hardwood regeneration forest floor ga hwy 197 rabun-county
Mother Nature hit the “Pause” button! Across the region, the development of new color or the loss of old has been put on hold. In many places the color that was there has gotten brighter, but patches of drought-stressed and damaged tress have spread.
With the exception of the higher elevations, the canopies are holding onto a lot of green, and it appears we’re about a week behind “normal” peak color time.
Wildfires in north Georgia have escalated significantly.
“Forest fuels” are at record low fuel moistures.
Please avoid outdoor fire use if possible right now, and if you do have a camp or cooking fire, have a water hose and shovel handy.
Also be careful with tools, charcoal grills and any other sources of sparks, flames or heat.
And if you do see a wildfire, call 911 immediately, as these fires can spread quickly.
Don’t try to put them out yourself but get to a safe place.
The best color is at 2500 to 3000 feet. The yellows continue to dominate the canopies right now, but the reds and burgundies are bursting on the roadsides and in the understory.
Species providing the red and burgundy hues this week continue to be the sourwoods, dogwoods, sumac, and black gum. The yellows and golds are being provided by birches, cherries, redbuds, some maples and yellow poplar. The hickories have picked up some speed with color ranging from neon yellow/gold to more bronzed yellows and golds. The sweet gums continue to provide both yellows and purple-reds, and the dependable maples continue to show yellows, reds, and oranges. Many are still in the initial stages of change and should continue to provide color for several weeks. Sassafras has also continued this week with yellows, reds, and orange.
Leaf change continues across northwest GA at most elevations, with upper elevations
(2000 feet) continuing to have the most consistent color. As in northeast GA you’ll find roadside color in sourwoods and dogwoods, but the dominant colors in the canopies now are shades of yellow.
Drought stress is readily visible in many areas, especially with some of the oaks which may miss out on the color change. However, roadsides and understories do hold color. It appears in northeast Georgia that the color has been put on hold below 2000 feet, so there’s hope that in the next weeks we’ll continue to see color development in northwest Georgia.
The species continuing in the reds are the dogwoods, sourwoods, black gums, and sumacs with the yellow poplars, red buds, and black cherries showing yellows, and the sweet gums providing both yellow and purplish reds. The hickories are beginning to display the golden yellows they are known for.
Percentage of color change from green to date:
NE GA, highest elevations, 90+%
Lower elevations across north GA, less than 20% to 60%, depending on elevation, aspect and plant communities.
Peak occurs this weekend into the first week in November, with good roadside color and up to a 60% canopy change.
Continuing drought conditions are having an impact. Color continues to develop but has slowed below 2000 feet.
For a scenic drive:
Any of the past routes we’ve recommended are still pretty…especially the higher routes:
…Richard Russell Scenic Highway, GA 180 from Vogel State Part up past Lake Winfield Scott to Suches,
or… US 76 from Clayton to Hiawassee.
To the west, from Ellijay on GA 52 towards Fort Mountain State Park is still a good choice.