ATLANTA — As the hours of daylight shrink and we get further into fall, an array of fall colors will be unmasked on deciduous trees across North Georgia.
Bright sunny days and crisp, cool overnights can create the most spectacular of fall foliage arrays each fall.
Across north Georgia, we had a wet summer, keeping trees healthy heading into fall foliage season. Although the peak is expected to be vibrant in many areas, parts of northeast Georgia has more significantly lacked in rainfall, stressing a few varieties of trees.
As of October 26th, the Georgia Forestry Commission reports that many in north Georgia are seeing vibrant colors in the trees. A lack of heavy rainfall and strong wind has led to an early peak and depending on the severity of storms and wind to end October will allow us to know how long we will be able to see the vibrant colors.
Here's what they report for each section of north Georgia:
Northwest Georgia (Ridge and Valley / Cumberland Plateau):
Vividness of colors will be decided by whether or not we have high amounts of rain and wind to end October and begin November. The less we have of storms, the better leaf retention we have on the trees. The lack of severe storms has also lead to an early peak.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date is about 85% above 2000 feet and 70% below 2000 feet. The peak of this transition for this region is expected to begin the first week of November.
There is still plenty of beautiful color in north Georgia, but due to recent strong winds and hard freezes this past week, most higher elevations are being listed as past peak.
Lower elevations still offer the opportunity to view beautiful colors and scenery.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date is about 100% above
3000 feet and 80% below 3000 feet.
Oaks will be the show in northeast Georgia. The dry weather did stress the sweetgum, sycamore, blackgum, and yellow poplar, which has led to premature leaf cast for some individual trees. The cold weather this week really helped to accelerate the color change!
The most vivid peak expected in northeast Georgia this fall will be near roadways and river corridors, where oak varieties dominate. These are starting to change, but should peak around the last week of October.
Estimated percentage of color change from green to date is about 75% above 3000 feet and 55% below 3000 feet.
Best Scenic Routes to see Fall Colors This Weekend
Northwest Georgia - Take Highway 52 from Chatsworth to Ellijay. Then head west on Highway 76 back to Highway 411. This route takes you past Fort Mountain State Park.
North Central Georgia - Head to Hogpen Gap Overlook in Union County via the Russell Scenic Highway. You'll see spectacular mountain views, including of Georgia's highest peak, Brasstown Bald.
Northeast Georgia - Since most of the best colors are closer to the roadside, any major roads leading from the Piedmont up into the Mountains of northeast Georgia are good at this time. They recommend Highways 17, 23, 76, and 441.
Why The Leaves Change Colors
In the fall time, the sun is positioned further south in the sky and the hours of daylight decrease along with falling temperatures. This causes the leaves to stop producing chlorophyll, which creates the vivid green colors in leaves with photosynthesis. As the amount of chlorophyll decreases, the underlying pigments of the leaves are unmasked. This creates the new orange, yellow, and crimson colors we signify with fall time.
Match the leaf color with the tree:
Try this hands-on learning lesson with your young kids! Go in the backyard or to a nearby park and collect a few various leaves. Compare the colors of the leaves to this list and help them narrow down what type of tree it may have come from!
- Oaks - Red, Brown, Russet
- Hickories - Golden Bronze
- Aspen & Yellow Poplar - Golden Yellow
- Sourwood And Black Tupelo - Crimson
- Maples - Scarlet, Orange-Red, Glowing Yellow
- Elms - Brown