ATLANTA - Every October, Georgia s forests become a brilliant blanket of red, orange and gold, inspiring leaf peepers to pull out their cameras and lace up their hiking boots - or at least hop in the car. To help track the changing leaves and plan autumn getaways, Georgia s State Parks will launch Leaf Watch 2012 beginning Oct. 1 at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/LeafWatch.
Whether hiking, biking or simply driving country roads, travelers can check Leaf Watch 2012 for advice on where and when to find the best color in Georgia s state parks. They can read updates from park rangers, get safety tips for hiking, and browse event calendars. Last-minute availability for cabins, yurts, campsites and lodge rooms in the state parks will also be posted.
Typically, northern Georgia peaks in late October; however, color can be seen as early as September and as late as mid-November. Some parks in southern Georgia put on a pretty display during late autumn, particularly those with cypress trees and tea-colored swamps such as George L. Smith or Stephen Foster state parks.
Fall is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy Mother Nature s handiwork, said State Park Director Becky Kelley. We have short nature trails that are good for kids, and longer trails that are perfect for experienced hikers. We even have roadside overlooks that make it easy to enjoy the view during a road trip. With our wide range of accommodations, it s easy to plan a fall vacation to one of Georgia s State Parks.
State officials recently announced Georgia s top ten state parks for leaf watching, which included Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain,Moccasin Creek, James H. Sloppy Floyd, Smithgall Woods, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi andVogel. For quieter getaways, visitors may want to explore parks further south, which can offer vibrant color as well. Georgia s newest state park, Chattahoochee Bend, features thick hardwoods reflecting off the winding river. Beautiful maples and oaks can be found on the Pine Mountain Trail at F.D. Roosevelt State Park.
Georgia has nearly 50 state parks, providing affordable staycations to residents and a not-so-far-away mountain escapes for Floridians. Park rangers advise guests to make reservations as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for the most sought-after cabins to be reserved 13 months in advance, and many campgrounds fill up early on pretty weekends. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-864-7275 or by going online atwww.GeorgiaStateParks.org.
Of course, the fall colors are not limited to just state parks and the U.S. Forest Service annually joins in keeping leaf-lookers informed of the best places and weeks to catch the leaves when they are most colorful.