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Archive for the ‘Fall Leaf Color Updates’ Category

Fall of 2016 has been one for the record books. We’ve had record high temperatures…and we’re in the middle of a deepening drought, which has impacted this fall’s foliage season, and brought about a very serious wildfire concern.

Peak color has come and gone for most areas, but you’ll still see some nice, earthy colors. Oaks are producing a range of color from golden yellows and bronzes to some burgundies. A few maples have held out until now and are turning shades of red, and there’s still some green left in the canopy, which could present some color over the next week or so.

Leaf  fall is well underway and will continue for another couple of weeks. That opens up some pretty roadside vistas to see more rock structures and silhouettes of the trees. The leaves make a pretty carpet of yellows, reds and shades of brown, but that’s not necessarily a welcome sight to the wildland firefighters. Those leaves are fresh, cured and aerated forest fuel capable of rapidly spreading a wildfire. They also represent a problem in areas that have already experienced a wildfire over the last month as many of these fire sites are still “holding heat” in the form of stump holes and larger logs, and this fresh leaf fall can allow the area to “reburn.”

Whatever your outdoor plans are this weekend the Georgia Forestry Commission is asking everyone to be extremely careful with any outdoor fire use and to be aware that mechanical equipment, cutting torches, grinders, grading equipment and anything capable of producing a spark or heat is a risk to start a wildfire.

Burn restrictions and bans have been issued in a number of counties and national forests or other public lands across north Georgia, so please seek out more information if you intend to have a campfire, cook over charcoal or other outdoor fire use. If you do see or know about a wildfire call 911 immediately and as these fires can spread quickly do not try to put them out yourself but get to a safe place.

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Things really exploded across north Georgia this past weekend! Most of north Georgia is near, at, or just past peak, so this weekend should be an excellent time to tour north Georgia. Reds and yellows are still prominent, but the yellow golds of the hickories and the bronzing of the beeches and some of our oaks are creating many “golden” opportunities for color. Most species are fully engaged now with the exception of some oaks which will begin to show changes between now and Thanksgiving. The drought continues to make its presence known with increasing pockets of brown. With leaf fall now underway, these obvious signs will soon be lost.

We mentioned the drought again…. Wildfire occurrence in Georgia continues to escalate significantly and the forest fuels are reaching extremely low moisture levels, making control and mop up increasingly difficult. The Georgia Forestry Commission is asking the public to be extremely careful with any outdoor fire use and to be aware that mechanical equipment, cutting torches, grinders, grading equipment and anything capable of producing a spark or heat is a risk to start a wildfire. If you do see or know about a wildfire, call 911 immediately. These fires can spread quickly, so don’t try to put them out yourself but get to a safe place.

Northeast Georgia:

Leaf fall is fully underway and the higher elevations that were first to show color are the first to drop leaves. Expect to see many “leaf showers” thinning canopies as you travel the upper elevations. Good color can be found across the region, and as you move up and down in elevation you will have a chance to see the full spectrum of leaf color. Watch for the bright yellow golds of the hickories… especially in the early morning and late afternoon light.

Northwest Georgia:

The drought continues to hold northwest Georgia just a little tighter, and evidence of drought stress is increasing in many of the remaining canopies. However, the ever resilient forests continue to provide opportunities to appreciate the magic of fall. As in northeast Georgia, there is a bronzing effect going on with many of the oaks and beech trees. With some drought damage mixed in creating earthy brown patchworks, the still present bright reds, yellows and oranges provide some pretty contrast.

Peak is ongoing currently, and color should be around for the next 7-10 days. Winds forecast for Friday behind a cold from could bring down the rest of the canopy!

Virtually any drive through north Georgia will provide opportunity for color.

In northeast Georgia take a trip from Toccoa up GA 17 alt, then Old US 441 north to Clayton and on up to Dillard.

A little further west, head out of Cleveland on US 129 and then take a left on GA 9/US 19 at Turner’s Corner and travel back GA 60 and then left to Dahlonega.

Farther west, take GA 53 west out of Dawsonville, go right on GA 183, and then look for GA 136 west on your left and head over to Talking Rock and GA 515.

In northwest Georgia head west on GA 136 from Resaca and travel through Villanow and on to LaFayette.

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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.

Northeast Georgia:

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.

Northwest Georgia:

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.

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This week the color change rate has really picked up! While overall, canopies are still holding a lot of green in many places, roadside color and the understory trees are getting into the season. Peak is still a week to week and a half away, but with a nice weekend forecast, you can’t go wrong heading to north GA.

Northeast Georgia:

Color can be found at virtually every elevation this week though you will still see a lot of green in places.  The uppermost elevations (3500 feet and above) are at peak or past. The yellows are dominating the canopies right now, but the roadsides provide plenty of the reds and burgundies.

  • Species providing the red and burgundy hues this week continue to be the sourwoods, dogwoods, sumac, and black gum.
  • Birches, cherries, redbuds some maples and the yellow poplar are showing yellows and golds
  • Hickories have now joined the festivities with vibrant golds and yellows
  • The black walnut has also jumped in with lemony yellows.
  • Sweet gums continue to provide both yellows and purple reds
  • and the dependable maples continue to show yellows, reds, and oranges, and with many still in the initial stages of change they should continue to provide color for several weeks.
  • The sassafras has also joined in this week with yellows, reds, and orange.

Northwest Georgia:

Leaf change continues across northwest GA at most elevations with the upper elevations (2000 feet) showing the most consistent color. As in northeast GA you’ll find roadside color with the sourwoods and dogwoods but the dominant color in the canopies now is shades of yellow.

* 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’re known for.

Overall peak is still on schedule for the last weekend in October to the first week in November.

Elevations above 3500 feet are now at or just-past peak. Lower elevations are at 20-60% canopy change.

The continuing drought will have some impact but you can see excellent roadside color now throughout the region.

 Suggested scenic routes this weekend:

Travel GA 197 out of Clarkesville towards Lake Burton. At US 76 go either  west over Dicks Creek Gap to Hiawassee, or east to Clayton.

Take GA 52 out of Ellijay to the Fort Mountain State Park area.

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Cooler temperatures have boosted fall foliage quite a bit over the past week…

The drought continues to have some effects and we’re seeing early leaf turn and brown-up across the region, especially in the northwest.

Also, as these serious drought conditions persist, fires have broken out…and the Georgia Forestry Commission continues to remind you to be very careful whenever fire is used outdoors. Get a burn permit when burning leaves, brush or conducting acreage burns and go to the GFC website for all the information…GaTrees.org.

Northeast Georgia:

The highest elevations are best for color. At 3500 feet elevation and higher, we’re at or nearing peak. The highest ridges of the state include Brasstown Bald, which can be viewed at various observation points throughout the area on the Richard Russell Scenic Highway or on Brasstown Bald. Color change at these extreme elevations is between 75% and 90%. Below 3500 we are seeing individual trees and pockets of trees with color change running from less than 10% at the lowest elevations up to 50% at 2500 feet.  Remember that slope direction, latitude and species composition affect the timing so the estimates at elevation do vary.

You’ll see red and burgundy hues courtesy of sourwoods and dogwoods and also black gum, and sumac. Yellow poplar and birch are providing yellow and golds. Sweet gums are showing yellow and purple-reds and the maples are bringing in yellow, red and orange.

Northwest Georgia:

Leaf change across many areas of northwest Georgia including lower elevations is more widespread than what we are seeing in the northeast. However, the best bets in this area continue to be the upper elevations. Across the region many of the reds and yellows are leaning toward the earthy, muted tones but there are bright pockets to be found. Elevations nearing 2000 feet will likely find the best color this week but winding roads in the valleys will have treasures to be found. Percent color change in the area varies widely with estimates of 20% to 40%. We are still a couple of weeks away from peak in the northwest.

Dogwoods, sourwoods, black gums, and sumacs are showing some vibrant red, with yellow poplars, red buds, and black cherries showing yellows, while sweet gums are turning yellow and purplish-red.

Suggested scenic drives this weekend:

  • US 19/129 north out of Cleveland over Neels Gap to GA 180 on the left, just past Vogel State Park. Turn on GA 180 and travel up to Suches. Or, continue on US 19/129 to GA 180 on the right, and travel to GA 180 Spur to Brasstown Bald.
  • Out of Jasper take GA 5 north to GA 136 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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North Georgia is experiencing a significant drought and that will have an impact on this year’s fall leaf season. Driving through the mountains you’ll notice some patches of brown, but color is beginning to show.

Northeast Georgia:

Cooler nights over the last week have helped jump start the fall color change. Dogwoods and sourwoods are showing various shades of red and burgundy, and the maples are turning to reds, burgundies and varying shades of yellow. We are also seeing some change in the birches with scattered lemon yellows. Yellow poplar is also showing shades of yellow, though we’re seeing many of these trees beginning to drop leaves.

Fall color normally starts at the higher elevations and progresses to lower elevations as we move through the season, so your best opportunity to see some of this early change is to travel Georgia’s highest elevation roads. Check out the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway (GA 348) or the approach roads to Georgia’s highest point, Brasstown Bald (GA Highway 180 Spur).

Northwest Georgia:

The current drought has had a tighter grip on the northwest portion of the state, where we’re seeing some early leaf drop and some early change. Yellow poplars are starting to turn and drop leaves. Dogwoods and sourwoods are starting to show reds and burgundies.

The highest elevations of the region are the best places to catch a glimpse of the earliest changes in foliage, so the Cloudland Canyon and Lookout Mountain areas will be good bets for color.

Reminder! Because of the drought, fire danger is high! Be very careful if you’re having a campfire or cooking outdoors – and if  you do any outdoor  burning, be sure to get a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission.

 

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Opportunities for viewing colorful fall foliage are dwindling, but there are still a few spots of color around north Georgia. While there isn’t a “go to” area to recommend visiting, the yellow-gold of hickories and the deep red-browns of the red oaks are still out there and looking good.

It should be noted that with leaves coming down, many roadside vistas that are obscured during the growing season are now clear. That makes it easier to see creeks, waterfalls and rock outcroppings on the mountain slopes, and those are beautiful sights to enjoy!

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