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The 2014 leaf peeping season is in full swing in the northeast and north central sections of the state. Georgia Forestry Commission foresters estimate the percentage of color change from green to date at lower elevations is 60-80%; higher elevations 80-100%, with highest elevations past peak. Colors are holding onto more earthy reds and yellows this year, but the effects are still worth the effort to get out and enjoy the next two weeks. The hickories have kicked in this week with golds and yellows. The maples have hit full stride and are in varying states of red, yellow and orange. The oaks have yet to fully join the show, but this is normal and just means they should be available to provide some excitement in the “second wave” over the next couple of weeks.

Weekend weather forecasts call for low temps in the low 30’s, and the 10 day forecast shows the “normal” October/November weather with high temps in the 60’s and low temps in the 30’s and 40’s and few chances of rain. As such, the progression of color change should be rapidly moving to 100% over the next week in the region.

For a scenic drive this weekend in northeast GA, travel up GA 365/US 441 to the Tallulah Falls/Clayton area. Continue up US 441 to Dillard or turn west on US 76 and head back over towards Hiawassee. Off of US 76 west of Clayton is the Upper Tallulah River area that is always a nice drive (note: this is a US Forest Service gravel/dirt road). GA 197 turns south off of US 76 for an optional return along Lake Burton and back to Clarkesville.

In northwest Georgia, maple, birch, sweetgum, hickory, dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, and sumac trees are all changing colors. The approaching 10-14 days will be optimal for viewing fall foliage. Poplar, birch, and hickory leaves are changing to yellow. Maple and sourwood leaves are red. Dogwood leaves vary from red to purple and sweetgum leaves are turning purple. Oaks are still green but beginning to change. Total color change from green is estimated now at 65%.

The next two weeks will be the peak time to view fall foliage in northwest Georgia. The first frost may happen in the upcoming weekend; if so color change and leaf fall will rapidly follow.

There are several places to see leaf color right now in NW GA:

1. Highway 52- Murray County/ Gilmer County
2. Hwy 136 from Gordon Co, through Murray Co. and into Pickens Co
3. Dade County (Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain)

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#GAfallcolor – Fall foliage color change has progressed at a rapid rate in north central Georgia and the northeast Georgia mountains this week. The hickories and beech trees are adding a new dimension to the yellow spectrum. Maples and sassafrass are transitioning through the red, yellow and orange ranges. Sweetgums are also adding to both the yellow and red/purple shades, and the sourwoods and dogwoods are still blazing bright red.

In northwest Georgia, things are also picking up speed but at a little slower rate than north central and northeast Georgia. The sourwood, dogwood, and sumacs continue to show reds, with hickories starting to join the fun; their golden yellow peak is still a week or so away. The yellow poplars are still holding some golden leaves, though they were impacted by rains and wind last week.

Georgia Forestry Commission foresters estimate 20-25% color change from green at lower elevations. Higher elevations are between 50-80%, with the highest elevations now just past peak. Expect October 25-31 to be the height of the season in northeast Georgia, with northwest sectors lagging behind by about a week.

For a scenic drive this weekend in the northeast, travel from Dahlonega up GA 60 to Suches, and then either continue on GA 60 to Blue Ridge or turn right onto GA 180 at Suches and travel back down to US 129. From there, head north to Blairsville or back south towards Cleveland over Neels Gap.

In northwest Georgia, from LaFayette travel GA 136 up towards Lookout Mountain and Cloudland Canyon State Park. Or, from Chatsworth, travel GA 52 over to Ellijay past Fort Mountain State Park.

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Mother Nature can be sneaky! Just a week ago we were being teased with patches of fall foliage, and then a few days ago, as Emeril Lagasse would say, “Bam!” The forests began exploding with color.

Georgia Forestry Commission foresters are reporting lower elevation color changes in north Georgia at 20-25 percent. Higher elevations are at 35-40 percent and above. Winds from the storm earlier this week put some of the early turning leaves on the ground, but there’s still plenty to see.

In northeast and north-central Georgia, the sourwoods have really come out, with brilliant reds offset by the their white seed pods. Maples are beginning changes through their color spectrum, running from red to yellow to orange. Sassafras is also showing this same range of colors. The yellow poplars and birch continue to produce yellows, and the hickories are also beginning to display golden yellow hues.

The northwest Georgia region is also picking up more color. Sourwood, dogwood, and sumacs are all starting to show their reds. Yellow poplars have been displaying their golden hues with hickories beginning to get in on the action.

Leaf watching opportunities will be widespread in the coming days. Over the next three weeks one can expect to find good color at most elevations throughout north Georgia. Remember that the higher elevations will “peak” sooner, and color will be found longer/later at the lower elevations. October 25 -31 likely will be the height of the season in northeast Georgia, with a week’s lag in northwest Georgia. But don’t discount this weekend or the first week or so in November!

To see some good color this weekend, take GA 17/75 north out of Helen to GA75-ALT and onto the Richard Russell Scenic Highway (GA348). Travel north over Hog Pen Gap back down to GA180. Turn right and travel to Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s highest elevation) or turn left and travel to US129. Left on US129 takes you over Neels Gap and to Cleveland. Right on US129 takes you to Blairsville.

Out of Jasper take GA 5 north to GA136 near Talking Rock. Travel west towards Carters Lake and then GA 411 north to Chatsworth. Or – take GA 2/52 west out of Ellijay and travel towards Fort Mountain State Park and Chatsworth.

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The calendar says “fall,” but the season’s colorful foliage hasn’t kicked into full gear just yet!

Georgia Forestry Commission foresters estimate north Georgia color change still at less than five percent.

At lower elevations, the traditional early birds are indicating a bit of transition, including dogwoods, sourwoods, poplar and the occasional sweetgum. At elevations above 3,000 feet, some individual trees are popping through, such as the sourwood, sumac and maples showing some deep, muted red. The poplar and birch are adding to the mix with some pretty yellow hues.

While we are not yet to the point at which color is the expectation, or where one area is more likely than others to provide splashes of color, there are some surprises to be found across north Georgia.

Check out these photos for some examples of what is currently waiting to be discovered. #GAfallcolor

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The 24th Georgia Urban Forest Council Annual Conference and Awards Program is October 22 and 23 at the Classic Center’s Foundry Building, 130 Foundry Street, in Athens.

The conference will provide a general overview of how this storm affected communities; how to be better prepared through making storm mitigation plans; performing tree assessments before the storm happens; working with staging areas for debris and wood utilization; communicating with the media; understanding declared vs. undeclared events; working with FEMA, GEMA, and strike teams; making scenario assessments; and learning more about damage and recovery of iced trees.

Join us for excellent general session talks, concurrent sessions, tours, and our annual urban forestry awards luncheon.

Registration:
$135 for members (includes a $10 donation to Georgia ReLeaf)
$160 for non-members (includes discounted GUFC membership and a $10 donation to Georgia ReLeaf)

Scholarships for tree board registration are still available.

Kids and Trees
As cooler temperatures move into Georgia, residents are digging out their gardening gloves and getting ready for the fall season.

December through February is the best time to plant trees in Georgia and now is the best time to order low-cost seedlings from the GFC.

A lot of people are unaware that we grow and stock a wide variety of hardwood and pine seedlings. Our selection includes lots of trees that are perfect for home landscapes, and if neighbors or a homeowner association gets together to place an order, the savings can be even more significant.

Some of the ornamental selections offered by the GFC are river birch, dogwood, cedar, several types of oak, maple, crepe and wax myrtles and fruit trees. As few as ten seedlings of the same species may be ordered at a time and deliveries begin the first week of December. In addition to these smaller homeowner packages, the GFC offers 3rd generation pines for large scale reforestation projects spanning thousands of acres.

It’s really easy to go to our website and find everything you need. There’s a complete list of species and prices, along with ordering information, planting directions and much more.

To see the seedling selection and their descriptions, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission website at GaTrees.org/Reforestation. Georgia residents may also contact the local office of the GFC to order seedlings and get questions answered.

Sourwood - One of the first to show color in the fall.

Sourwood – One of the first to show color in the fall.

Recent cool mornings mean good things are on the way for Georgia’s fall foliage season!

Georgia Forestry Commission foresters say dropping temperatures, shorter days and a 10-day forecast that suggests more sun than clouds and rain can be expected to kick the annual color show into gear.

In both northwest and northeast Georgia, foresters are seeing some evidence of fall color on our highest ridges and summits (above 3500 feet elevation.) Maples, sumac and sourwood are beginning to tinge deep red. Yellow poplars are beginning to show their trademark yellows. However, north Georgia canopies are still green for the most part, with color change estimated at just five percent.

Significant color is still a couple of weeks away.

The Georgia Forestry Commission will provide weekly updates on where the colors are peaking and suggest some viewing areas for enjoying the season.

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