While it’s sad to have to say goodbye to summer, with the changing of the season comes the changing colors of the leaves! There’s very little more pleasant than packing up a picnic on a cool fall day and heading out into the woods to see the colors of the changing leaves.
As this is being written, here in the southeast foliage season is just beginning, with minimal changes in the far northern parts of Georgia, western North Carolina, and east Tennessee. What do all these areas have in common? They’re at higher elevations. Two keys to seeing more leaves this time of year – the further north and the higher up you go, the more color change you’re going to see.
Peak fall foliage season in north Georgia begins about the 2nd week in November, but if you’re in a hurry, it’s nearly at its peak the first week. By mid-November, the foliage peak is in the Atlanta metro area, directly east and west, and the coastal Carolinas south of the Neuse River. If you’re a procrastinator, or you live south of the Atlanta metro, the 3rd week of November finds the foliage peak in the southern part of the state, south of Macon. If you decide to head that way for longer than a day trip, I’d also recommend a visit to the Americus area – it’s very rural, so you’ll see lots of foliage, but there are a number of quaint small towns in the area as well.
Once you get to the end of November, you’ll have to head to Florida or Mobile, Alabama to see any color, as most of the leaves will have fallen off the trees in Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas.
Now that you know when, here are a few great drives in the southeast for foliage viewing:
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee – the great diversity of trees and terrain in the Smokies make for a gorgeous fall palette. Want to see how it looks? Check out their web-cam.
- Mount Cheaha, Alabama – The Creek Indians didn’t name this mountain “high place” for nothing. At over 2,400 above sea level, it’s the highest point in Alabama. They’ve also got a foliage cam.
- Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, Georgia – drive your US Auto Sales car to the historic depot in downtown Blue Ridge and wind your way along the Toccoa River in a historic railcar. Make a reservation a few weeks in advance, as these trips are popular in fall.
- Brasstown Bald, Georgia – This is the state’s highest peak, nestled among some of the most beautiful mountains in the state. You can see quite a lot from the parking area, or take a short hike to the observation deck at the very top.
- Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina – wending its way through national parks and the beautiful arts community of Asheville, you will not be disappointed by time spend in the North Carolina mountains. If you want to go the distance, you can take it all the way to Charlottesville, Virginia, and the beginnings of Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah Valley.