Leaf looking - or leaf peeping, as some folks call it - is definitely right up there with visiting a pumpkin patch or having a cup of hot apple cider when it comes to a satisfying fall experience. While peak season is still a couple of weeks away, Kim Hatcher with Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites said it's never too early to enjoy the fall scenery in North Georgia.
Hatcher, the Public Affairs Coordinator for the parks, has spent years tracking fall color, and she said there's no hard science to predicting the peak leaf-watching season because you never know what Mother Nature is going to do.
"Typically, Georgia peaks in late October, even in to early November," Hatcher said. "What we really need is bright, sunny days and cool, crisp nights - but not freezing - and that's what will really make the colors snap!"
Hatcher said last week's rainy weather shouldn't be a big problem.
"Rain does typically make [the color] more muted, but I'm thinking if the rain stays gone...then it's really going to set us up for a beautiful, vibrant fall," Hatcher said. "I do remember last year we had a lot of rain, and right in mid-November, all of a sudden the color just snapped and it got beautiful. So, really you just never know how the weather may affect it."
Hatcher said the most popular state parks for leaf lookers are Vogel State Park in Union County, Unicoi State State Park in White County and Black Rock Mountain State Park in Rabun County. Those parks and others in the mountains tend to draw the biggest crowds, but she said there are a couple of parks that have beautiful fall scenery that visitors tend to forget.
"I would recommend either Don Carter State Park, which is on Lake Lanier [in Gainesville] or Victoria Bryant State Park, which is near Royston. Both of them are absolutely beautiful parks that get nice fall color," Hatcher said.
Hatcher said Georgia's state parks also offered plenty of fall activities over and above leaf looking, but participation is limited as the COVID pandemic continues.
"We are doing ranger programs but limiting the number of people so that people can have adequate space, so for guided hikes and Halloween-themed events, you would want to register in advance for the programs," Hatcher said. "We are encouraging people that if they can go during the week do that because the weekends are going to be very busy in the North Georgia mountains throughout October and November."
Hatcher also encourages park visitors to be part of Leaf Watch 2021 by tagging their own photos on Instagram so they can be included in the gallery on the Georgia State Parks website and Instagram account. Not only will that give visitors a chance to showcase their personal experiences, but also other people can see where the peak colors are across the state. Use the hashtags #GaLeaf Watch and #GaStateParks to participate.
To find out full details on Leaf Watch 2021, follow this link.