Leaf Watch 2017

Leaf Watch 2017 Logo

 

It’s Fall, Y’all!

Every October, Georgia’s mountains turn to a vibrant blanket of red and gold as the leaves begin to change. We’ll help you find the best spots for a fantastic fall escape, including waterfalls, hiking trails, cabins and the perfect spot to toast s’mores. 

11-3-17 Update – This has been an unusual leaf-watching season. Warm temperatures have postponed vibrant color and high winds have blown many leaves down before turning. However, we’re finally seeing plenty of gorgeous trees now. This weekend through the next will likely be peak for most northern parks.

 


Cloudland Canyon Tallulah Gorge Sweetwater Creek


Top 10 Georgia State Parks for Fall ColorMap of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge — Dawsonville

Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall. A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views. There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top. For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.

Black Rock Mountain State Park — Clayton

At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park. (Brasstown Bald is the state’s highest peak.) Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike. For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail.

Cloudland Canyon State Park — Near Chattanooga

One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging trails. A favorite hike takes you down a staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls. (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.) The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park — Pine Mountain

Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta. The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail. For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a life-size bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and views of the forested valley. Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

Fort Mountain State Park — Chatsworth

This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s green lake. For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail. Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore. Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks worth stopping to see.

Moccasin Creek State Park — Lake Burton

Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake. Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower. Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.

Smithgall Woods State Park — Helen

Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls. A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees. Smithgall Woods has some of the park system’s most sought-after cabins and is near wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

Tallulah Gorge State Park — Near ClaytonTallulah Gorge

Tallulah Gorge is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails. Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom. During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.”

Unicoi State Park & Lodge — Helen

New ziplines take you high above the forest canopy for a unique view of leaves. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. Unicoi offers a lodge and restaurant.

Vogel State Park — Blairsville

The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering a birds-eye view of the park’s lake. For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall below the dam. The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.


"Hidden Gems" for Fall Color

George L. Smith State Park — Twin CityGeorge L. Smith

In late autumn, cypress trees turn deep orange and make a beautiful reflection off this park’s blackwater pond. Join Mill Pond Kayak for a guided paddle trip under Spanish moss and tupelo trees. Photographers will appreciate exploring a covered bridge built in 1880.

James H. Floyd State Park — Summerville

This quiet park in northwest Georgia has five miles of hiking trails, plus access to the 60-mile Pinhoti Trail. The moderately easy Marble Mine Trail follows an old road to a 35-foot waterfall adjacent to an old mine opening (now closed).

Victoria Bryant State Park — Royston

Located just minutes from I-85 in north Georgia, this little known gem has eight miles of hiking trails, a pretty stream and small fishing ponds. Tent campers will like the wooden platforms surrounded by hardwood forest. Golfers can tee off surrounded by fall color on the park’s 18-hole Highland Walk Golf Course.