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.