Leaf Watching in Georgia's State Parks
November 20, 2023 –- We have enjoyed a beautiful leaf-watching season. Peak color arrived earlier than usual in the mountains and stretched out through mid-November across much of Georgia. Even now, a little color remains at lower elevations. Thank you to everyone who tagged #GaLeafWatch and #GaStateParks on Instagram. Your photos look great! It's not too early to plan now for Leaf Watch 2024 because cabins and campsites book quickly. Reserve your favorite spot now and we'll see you on the trails!
- Top 10 Parks for Fall Color
- See #GaStateParks or #GaLeafWatch on Instagram
- Cabins, Yurts & Campsites
- Programs & Event Calendar
- Fall Foliage Prediction Map
- Georgia Forestry Commission Updates
- Safe Hiking Tips
2023 Photo Gallery
Let's see your best fall-color photos taken during the 2023 season! Tag us on social media for the chance to have your images featured here. #GaLeafWatch #GaStateParks
Not on social media? Upload Your 2023 Photos throughout the leaf-watching season.
2022 Photo Gallery
Most Popular Georgia State Parks for Fall Color
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge - Dawsonville
Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall and a beautiful new visitor center. 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 and usually one of the first locations to show vibrant fall color. (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. Stay atop the mountain in cozy cabins or wooded campsites.
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. Yurt guests stay overnight right by a hiking trail.
F.D. Roosevelt State Park - Pine Mountain
Many people are surprised to find colorful 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 through the park. This park often peaks during early November.
Fort Mountain State Park - Chatsworth
This park is best known for its stone fire tower and 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 and is a great jumping-off point for exploring the area. 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 mountain attractions.
Smithgall Woods State Park - Helen
Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing or romantic cabin getaways. Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to spectacular 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 Clayton
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 take the staircase down (and up from) a suspension bridge. Camp inside the park or rent cabins at nearby Black Rock Mountain State Park.
Unicoi State Park & Lodge - Helen
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
Vogel is one of north Georgia's most popular parks. 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. A new visitor center is under construction, so parking may be very limited this season.
"Hidden Gems" for Fall Color
Red Top Mountain State Park – Acworth
With its Lake Allatoona location, Red Top Mountain is best known as a summer destination. However, more than 15 miles of trails wind through the park, providing beautiful autumn views of the forest. The 4-mile Iron Hill Trail is open to both hikers and bikers, and its wide path is fairly easy for smaller children. Yurts, cabins and campsites are available for rent.
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.
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.
Don Carter State Park - Gainesville
Georgia’s only state park on Lake Lanier offers more than 14 miles of forested trails, boat ramps, cabins and campsites. Equestrians will especially enjoy autumn views from horseback.
George L. Smith State Park - Twin City
In late autumn, cypress trees turn deep orange and make a beautiful reflection off this park’s blackwater pond. Rent a kayak to paddle under Spanish moss and tupelo trees. Photographers will appreciate exploring a covered bridge built in 1880.
Providence Canyon State Park - Lumpkin
Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” may be best known for its orange-hued soil, but its trees provide a colorful palette as well. In late fall, rent a cabin nearby at Florence Marina State Park, then hike the canyon for the best leaf watching.
Hard Labor Creek State Park - Rutledge
Just east of Atlanta, this 5,804-acre outdoor playground offers several miles of hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails. The 1-mile Brantley Nature Trail makes for an easy walk through mature hardwoods and pines.