Peak week has come and gone but there is still color hanging on and even new color emerging.

Elevations above about 2300 feet have seen much of the canopy drop their leaves.  However, above these elevations the oaks are just now beginning to shine with shades of rusty reds and deep burgundies dotting the upper mountain slopes with others showing some golden yellows.

Elevations below 2300 feet are still seeing trees holding leaves with the yellows, golds, and bronze shades dominating the forest canopies and understory.

This week the majority of overstory yellow poplar have bared their branches but there are still hangers on to provide support of the golden hues along with hickory, birch, and this week the American beech has kicked it up a notch with yellow greens, bright yellows and buckskin tones.  Maples are also heavy on the yellows right now but with many tinging to orange adding to the overall golden/bronze theme.

This does not mean that reds are not present with other maples still showing reds,

as well as occasional sourwood, sumac and as mentioned, the late changing oaks.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 80-100% overall with elevations above about 2300 feet seeing much of the canopy dropping.

We are past peak but there is still some good color to see.  Many leaves are currently falling but there should still be some good color to experience on what appears to be shaping up as a beautiful weekend in north Georgia.

The consecutive days of rain likely helped bring down a few more leaves but did not significantly impact this week.

Most any drive through north Georgia should provide some good viewing of late season color understanding that the highest elevations are well past peak and rapidly dropping what canopy is left.

Many of the drives we discussed earlier this season still hold opportunity including the “gap” drives to include US 76 between Clayton and Hiawassee over Jacks Creek Gap, GA 17/75 between Helen and Hiawassee over Unicoi Gap, US 129 between Cleveland and Blairsville over Neel Gap, GA 60 between Dahlonega and Blue Ridge over Woody Gap, and the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy over Hog Pen Gap.

Additionally GA 53 between Dawsonville and Jasper, GA 52 between Ellijay and Chatsworth, US 441 to Tallulah Gorge, GA 197 driving north from Clarkesville and GA 356 past Unicoi State Park.


Northwest Georgia

Rain and wind from recent storms have accelerated color change and leaf fall. Peak passed over the weekend, with color change from green now more than 65%. Red oak, white oak, and chestnut oak are showing small amounts of yellow and brown before dropping their leaves. Deep red colors previously shown by sourwood, maple, and sassafrass have shifted to yellow and orange, while attached leaves are becoming sparse. Yellow poplar, sycamore, sweetgum, and hickory are changing from deep yellows to light browns. Areas in the higher elevations have already peaked and are dropping leaves rapidly, with lower areas close behind.

Scenic drive:

Take Hwy 136 from I-75. Turn left on Hwy 157 on top of Mookout mountain. Turn left on Daughtery Gap Rd to come out in front of Mountain Cove Farms. Turn right on Hog Jawl Rd. Turn right on Hwy 193 and follow back into Lafayette.  Turn right on South Main Street. Turn left on Hwy 27 Bypass and follow to the next intersection to get back on Hwy 136.

Northeast/Central GA Specific (Blue Ridge Mtns):

This past week saw the arrival of the peak leaf season in northeast Georgia with color developing throughout the region. However, peak this year is looking a little different from some years with a majority of the color being more muted but there’s still a lot to see, including terrific examples of neon reds and fluorescent yellow golds.

This week the birch trees continue to put on a show with their yellows becoming more golden; yellow poplar continues to contribute, but most of these are rapidly losing their leaves. Hickories have picked up the pace with most showing shades of yellow and gold, and the maples continue to exhibit reds, yellows and oranges, though some of the early turners have lost much of their canopy. American beech, redbud and chestnut oak are the newcomers this week for yellow and bronze.

The red spectrum continues to be represented by sourwoods, maples, blackgums, sumacs and dogwoods. The newcomers of the week in the red spectrum are the red oaks that weren’t impacted by the earlier heat stress, with many northern red and scarlett oak showing deep reds.

And, there are still plenty of trees that have not started to turn, so we should continue to see some new color development over the next few weeks.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 40% to 80%+ overall…

Highest elevations at 90%+ with locations above 3500’ elevation past peak.

Scenic Drive:

Most drives through north Georgia will provide opportunities for good color. Traveling up US 441 through Habersham County into Rabun County to Tallulah Gorge and then points north would provide some good potential. Continue north into Rabun County and head west on US 76 or up to the Black Rock Mountain area. For lesser traveled routes in the area, try the Persimmon Road/Germany Road area, and for the real adventurers, possibly the Tallulah River Road off of Persimmon Road (but travel slowly as this unpaved US Forest Service road is very narrow.)

Also nice is GA 52 west out of Ellijay toward Fort Mountain, taking in the Cohutta Overlook along the way.









Northwest GeorgiaColor change has accelerated within the last week. Red oak, white oak, and chestnut oak are finally starting to show light shades of yellow and burnt orange before turning brown and dropping leaves. Sourwood and red maple continue to show the deepest reds while black gum and sassafrass are close behind with tints of reddish orange. Some areas in higher elevations may reach their peak in the coming week, while others still lag behind.

A scenic NW GA route…Take Hwy 136 from I-75. Turn left on Hwy 157 on top of Lookout Mountain. Turn left on Daughtery Gap Rd to come out in front of Mountain Cove Farms. Turn right on Hog Jowl Rd. Turn right on Hwy 193 and follow back into Lafayette, then right on South Main Street. Turn left on Hwy 27 Bypass and follow to the next intersection to get back on Hwy 136.

Northeast Georgia We seem to be about a week behind but things are really starting to pick up now with cooler nights and sunny days.

The color yellow is the star this week with birch trees, yellow poplar showing nice golden bronze; maples contributing yellow/organge/reds. And adding even more yellow to our understories are muscadines and even the dreaded poison ivy! The red spectrum continues to be represented by the sourwoods, maples, blackgums, sumacs and dogwoods with a few of the oaks starting to show some color this week.

 Color change from green to date: 20% to 50%+ overall… Highest elevations at 70%+ in change from green, but color yet to fully develop even there.

This weekend looks like it will represent the front end of our “peak” season. This fall’s wacky weather has made predicting peak a little more challenging this year, so things could possibly lag another week to a true peak or it may begin to accelerate once things get rolling, so stay tuned!

As changes have developed a little slower this year, our best color continues to be found on some of the higher elevation drives so the Richard Russell Scenic Highway and GA 180 from Vogel State Park to the Lake Winfield Scott and Suches areas remain a good option.

However, most any drive in the northeast Georgia mountains will provide color opportunities. For a lower elevation drive, try GA 356 east from Unicoi State Park to GA 197 and turn north. Travel GA 197 up around Lake Burton, or turn right onto Seed Lake Road.

October 25, 2018

More color is starting to pop up across the region but we’re still waiting on the big show!

Northwest Georgia – As temperatures fall, color change is progressing slowly. Maple and sourwood are displaying the deepest reds, while black gum is showing dark shades of pink. Light shades of yellow and brown can be seen on chestnut and sawtooth oaks before their leaves drop, and red and white oak are going straight to brown. Yellow poplar, sycamore, and hickory area steadily showing deeper shades of yellow, while sassafrass is displaying shades of orange and red.

Percentage of color change in NW – less than 20%

Northeast Georgia – Color continues to develop across the northeast but green still rules. The higher elevations are leading the change from green, but currently these developing colors are more earthy than neon.  Colors are continuing to develop in some of the river corridors and roadsides.  The yellow poplar is living up to its name but we’re seeing a thinning of their canopies, with leaves continuing to drop. The birches, cherries, hickories and sassafrass are rounding out the yellows…while maples, sourwoods, dogwoods, black gum and sumacs are increasingly providing reds across the region.

Color change NE from green to date: 15% to 30%+…

Highest elevations at 50%+ change from green, but color yet to fully develop even there.

Peak: While things appear to be just a little behind, still looking to the last week of October into the first week/weekend of November to kick off our peak leaf viewing period.

Scenic drives:

This week the area showing the most consistent color in the region continues to be our higher elevation drives, including GA 60 from Dahlonega to Suches to Lake Winfield Scott and Vogel State Park. Also the Richard Russell Scenic Hwy running from GA 180 in Union County to GA 75 Alt in White County. And don’t forget Georgia’s highest drive up to Brasstown Bald on GA 180 Spur.

However, keeping in mind we are not at full color, color can be found throughout the north GA region.


Here’s our latest newsletter! Please email Susan Granbery, sgranbery@gfc.state.ga.us if you would like to be added to our Constant Contact database.

Scroll down this page for our fall leaf color updates.

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Here Comes Some Color


OCTOBER 18, 2018

Northwest Georgia

Leaf change continues to lag in the northwest, with little significant change from last week. Yellow poplar, sycamore, and hickory are beginning to turn yellow. Red maple and sourwood are showing light colors of pink and red. Red oak, white oak, and chestnut oak are continuing to turn brown and shed leaves without any vivid color changes. Dogwoods are still turning dull/ burnt red in color, and quite a few other species are dropping leaves without much color change.

Northeast Georgia

The subtle changes we were seeing last week are becoming more pronounced and things are starting to look “fall-ish.” Colors are developing best in the upper elevations but we are also seeing changes in the river corridors and along roadsides throughout northeast Georgia. The yellow poplar is the dominant species showing changes, and many are well into full swing along creek bottoms and roadways. Birches, cherries, hickories are joining in with their own shades of yellow as well.

Maples also becoming more obvious, with reds emerging throughout the region. Other red hues are showing up in sourwood, dogwood and sumac. Black gum may be the star this week with their bright reds popping through the canopies. Red oaks are browning up and may not provide their normal colors this year because they’ve been stressed by the late season high temperatures.

Percentage of color change from green to date: 10% to 30%+.

Peak is still expected the last week of October into the first week/weekend of November.

Best leaf peeping this weekend will be between Dahlonega and Suches/Lake Winfield Scott. Take GA 60 north out of Dahlonega and travel to Suches, and then turn onto GA 180. (It’s a very curvy road so take it slow!) Other scenic drives include areas around Brasstown Bald and the Richard Russell Scenic Highway.


Daily Update Oct 17Current Situation: The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) is managing response and recovery efforts related to the clearing of debris from public roadways, public infrastructures, facilities and property to assist power companies with the restoration of electrical power to communities. The Incident Command Post is located in Tifton, Georgia. Kris Butler is the Incident Commander. 10 GFC chainsaw strike teams of 90 personnel are assigned. 20 personnel assigned to GFC dozers and 25 personnel are assigned to the GFC Incident Management Team. This will be the final update provided by the GFC IMT.

Partners and Cooperators: Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS), County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Directors, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC), Georgia Department of Agriculture (DOA), Georgia Search and Rescue (GSARS) and electrical power companies.

Planned Actions: Chainsaw strike teams are concentrating on clearing debris in Seminole County where the GFC IMT is working closely in cooperation with the local electrical power company to help clear the roads so power can be restored as quickly as possible.

  • Seminole County, Division A – 3 GFC chainsaw strike teams, 5 GDOT teams, 7 DNR teams working in 2 State Parks, and 6 DOC teams.
  • Early and Miller Counties, Division B – 3 GFC chainsaw strike teams, 2 GDOT teams, and 2 DNR teams.
  • Baker, Calhoun, Crisp, Colquitt, Dougherty, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Thomas and Worth Counties, Division C – 1 GFC chainsaw strike team, 1 GFC dozer strike team, 3 GDOT teams, and 5 DOC teams.
  • Decatur County, Division D – 2 GFC chainsaw strike teams, 1 GFC dozer strike team, 4 GDOT teams, and 8 DOC teams.

Crews will complete these assignments today and some will begin to demobilize this afternoon with a goal of having the entire IMT demobilized by Friday afternoon. Remaining debris clearance work will transition to the local district of the GDOT. The GDOT will manage debris clearing operations through the remainder of the declared state of emergency which runs through November 6, 2018.

Burn Permits: The GFC has resumed issuing permits in all counties for all types of burning EXCEPT Decatur, Seminole, Miller, Early, Mitchell and Baker Counties. For these 6 counties only hand piled natural vegetation (yard debris) permits/notification of intent to burn will be allowed at this time.

History: Hurricane Michael entered Georgia as a major hurricane on October 10th from the southwest near the Lake Seminole area where the Georgia, Florida and Alabama state lines converge. It continued as a hurricane with sustained winds above 74 mph into Thursday morning, October 11th, until reaching Bleckley and Twiggs Counties. Several tornadoes were reported in areas away from the hurricane’s main core path. A tremendous amount of downed trees and debris exists in areas where there is limited or restricted access by roads. Some local flooding has occurred and streams, creek and rivers have high and swift water. Several communities remain without power due to damaged poles, lines and substations damaged by high winds. Safety of personnel is of concern due to trees in tension that may snap or break, downed power lines, smoke from unauthorized debris burning, mold, insect bites and bee stings. A preliminary damage assessment shows approximately 3 million acres of timber damage with assessments continuing. A basic assessment of damaged community trees in public areas was conducted by GFC’s community foresters. The most significant damage was noted in and around the communities of Blakely, Colquitt, Donalsonville, Bainbridge, and Albany. A major disaster has been declared for Baker, Decatur, Dougherty, arly, Miller and Seminole Counties. Assistance is available for individuals in these counties, and in 31 counties for public assistance. More information is available at DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.