What destinations come to mind when you think of the fall season in the US? Lots of people name New England as their first choice. Well, we claim that Georgia is one of the most underrated fall colors destinations in the country! The Peach State is packed with state parks with plenty of deciduous trees and wide-open spaces to take in all those hues of reds, oranges, and yellows.
When is the best time to see autumn foliage in Georgia?
Once the calendar turns to October, park rangers face the fact that the most frequent question they will be asked is: “When will the leaves change?” They say, only Mother Nature knows, but peak fall color in Georgia is normally in late October or early November. The key for the vibrant autumn hues is warm, sunny days paired with cool, yet not freezing nights. Thanks to the varied elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lower Coastal Plain, you can experience a long fall foliage season in Georgia. The leaves begin to turn in the higher elevations in early October and then work their way through to the lower elevations by late October–early November. Some autumnal foliage can be seen in September and well late into November in certain parts of the state, but late October is your best bet. To capture the beauty of the season at its best, check the Leaf Watch fall color forecast by Georgia Department of Natural Resources before heading to a specific place.
Best places to see fall colors in Georgia
Georgia boasts lots of places to embrace the colors of the season. So get yourself into leaf peeper mode and pick your spots to view fall foliage. Cloudland Canyon State Park is a wonderful destination at any time of year, but vibrant colors make it particularly scenic in fall. Go on one of the excellent hiking routes or ride up and down mountain biking trails with some gorgeous fall foliage. For sweeping views of the canyon, hike the West Rim Loop, which is moderately difficult and is about 5 mi (8 km) round trip. For a glamping weekend amidst the fall foliage, you can stay overnight in one of the yurts in the state park. George L. Smith Park might seem an unexpected spot for fall foliage viewing, as mountains in North Georgia usually lure more leaf peepers than the southern regions of Georgia. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks cross the pond and weave in and out of cypress trees that expose yellow and orange leaves late into the season. The habitat offers other sightings like beaver lodges and wading birds such as blue herons and white ibis. The park is about three hours from Atlanta and over an hour from Savannah. During the 2020 season, paddlers are required to bring their own boats. Vogel State Park near Blairsville is another excellent fall foliage destination. Hikers and trail runners love this place. If you are into hiking, consider the Bear Hair Gap Trail, which is about a 4-mi (6.5-km) hike. The trail will take you through the mossy forest and massive rock outcroppings to the lofty views of the tranquil waters of Lake Trahlyta. Take a walk around the lake on the Trahlyta Lake Trail to catch stunning views of Blood Mountain and the iconic tumbling waterfall. Brasstown Bald in Towns County is the highest point in the state of Georgia. The peak offers stunning views of the colorful trees dotting the Blue Ridge Mountains. At the summit, you will find the visitor’s center and an observation deck with 360-degree views. Brasstown Bald is an excellent spot for watching sunrise and sunset. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway will take you on a four-hour railway tour from Blue Ridge to McCaysville. The route runs through some incredibly stunning landscapes along the Toccoa River. You can choose between an authentic indoor car, open car, or premier class. The ride is about two hours round trip with a two-hour layover in McCaysville, where you can walk to the border with Tennessee. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway fall foliage rides run from late September or early October through mid-November.