Looking for the perfect place to see the beauty of nature as autumn brings stunning color to trees and foliage? The state of Georgia — particularly its northern reaches, where the Appalachian Blue Ridge Mountains stretch for miles — is where you need to be. In a word, Georgia’s fall foliage is spectacular!
Read on for a look at some of the top viewing spots for experiencing the explosion of color that is Georgia fall foliage.
Top Fall Foliage Viewing Spots: Northeast Georgia
1. Brasstown Bald
What better place to experience the full sweep of Georgia fall foliage than the highest point in the state? At 4,784 feet, Brasstown Bald near Blairsville offers breathtaking views that stretch from Georgia into North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Balds are an interesting feature of the Appalachian Mountains. They are mountaintops covered with thick low-growing vegetation rather than trees. That means you’ll have an unimpeded view of fall tree colors from Brasstown Bald.
Plus, on a clear day, you might experience a fall vista spreading more than 70 miles to Atlanta, the state’s vibrant capital city.
Even though you’ll be perched atop the state’s highest point, you’ll be far from isolated at Brasstown Bald. There are picnic areas, a general store with local products, three trailheads, a natural science and history museum, and a 360-degree observation deck to enjoy.
You can get an up-close look at Georgia fall foliage by walking the paved 0.6-mile trail from the parking lot to the observation deck. It’s a steep trail, though, so there is also a shuttle bus service from the parking lot to the top of Brasstown Bald.
2. Black Rock Mountain State Park
Located just north of Clayton and west of Mountain City, Black Rock Mountain State Park is an excellent place to see Georgia fall foliage. The park includes nearly a dozen miles of trails, offering both up-close views and wide vistas of autumnal glory.
One of those trails will take you to the top of Lookoff Mountain, where the view stretches across the Wolffork Valley. Another trail will take you into the most densely vegetated part of the park for an intimate look at Georgia fall foliage.
Covering more than 1,700 acres with a 17-acre lake, Black Rock Mountain State Park has cottages and campsites if you want more than a day trip.
3. Tallulah Gorge State Park
Another state recreational area offering fantastic views of Georgia fall foliage is Tallulah Gorge State Park north of Toccoa. The gorge that is the centerpiece of the park was carved out by the Tallulah River.
The 1,000-foot-deep gorge stretches for nearly two miles. A limited number of permits are available each day to hike to the bottom of the gorge, but they’re generally gone by early morning. If you do get a permit, part of the hike is a walk across a suspension bridge 80 feet above the river.
If you don’t get a gorge permit, don’t worry. There are plenty of trails around the gorge rim featuring spectacular overlooks.
4. City of Helen
Any fall trip to the mountains of northeast Georgia to view their beautiful fall colors should include a stop in the city of Helen. Created to provide visitors with the experience of visiting an Alpine village, the downtown area features Bavarian-style architecture and restaurants serving German cuisine.
October brings Helen’s version of Oktoberfest, the annual festival centered in Munich, Germany, that features lots of beer and food.
If your leaf-peeping involves driving the roads crisscrossing the northeast Georgia mountains, Helen is a perfect place to stop for a different kind of sightseeing.
Top Fall Foliage Viewing Spots: North Central Georgia
5. Piedmont Park
It might seem counterintuitive, but the bustling city of Atlanta, the capital of the state, offers a great opportunity to experience Georgia fall foliage. The city’s Piedmont Park comes alive with color as leaves change into their autumn hues.
There are a number of don’t-miss fall leaf-watching sites at Piedmont Park. When you visit, make sure to see the gingko trees along 14th Street in their explosion of brilliant yellow autumn coloring.
The Park Drive bridge is a great place to see the park’s bald cypress and other colorful trees along Lake Clara Meer. Your visit to Piedmont Park should also include a look at the oaks along 10th Street and the diverse trees around the Mayor’s Grove Playground.
6. Gibbs Gardens
In the rural setting of the city of Ball Ground north of Atlanta, Gibbs Gardens offers a uniquely beautiful look at Georgia fall foliage. Covering more than 300 acres, this classic estate garden was designed by property owner Joe Gibbs.
The property includes numerous ponds, bridge crossings, and waterfalls surrounding a residence that calls to mind an English manor. Centerpieces of the Georgia fall foliage display at Gibbs Gardens are the 5,000 Japanese maples, displaying a variety of autumn coloration.
The Japanese maples are enhanced by the trees filling the natural woodlands at the estate, providing a full immersion experience in Georgia fall foliage.
Top Fall Foliage Viewing Spots: Northwest Georgia
7. Cloudland Canyon State Park
Just like the rest of northern Georgia, the northwest part of the state boasts opportunities to see fall foliage in its full glory. One place to see stunning Georgia fall foliage in this part of the state is Cloudland Canyon State Park.
The dense woodland extending across the 3,500-acre park at the edge of Lookout Mountain is punctuated by many dramatic features. You’ll find deep canyons, along with caves, waterfalls, and lots of wildlife, to add to the bursting of fall color in the park.
For the day visitor, walks along the park’s three trails, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous, provide rewarding up-close looks at Georgia fall foliage. Those seeking a longer-term look at autumn’s hues can take advantage of cottages or tents, trailers, or RV campsites.
8. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
Starting in the small mountain town of Blue Ridge, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway offers four-hour 26-mile round-trip excursions. The trip includes a two-hour layover for exploring the small adjoining “sister towns” of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee.
From late September until early November, riders on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway’s four-hour trips can experience the fall woodlands along the Toccoa River. A two-hour option foregoes a layover in McCaysville/Copperhill.
If you’d like a full experience of Georgia in the fall, the railway train offers open-air cars as an option. As you look at the leaves, you’ll also experience cool autumn breezes.
9. Red Top Mountain State Park
As you’ve seen, the state parks across northern Georgia are prime spots for experiencing the beauty of Georgia fall foliage. Red Top Mountain State Park, nestled along the shores of Lake Allatoona, is no exception.
An added dimension of experiencing Georgia fall foliage at Red Top Mountain State Park is seeing the colorful leaves reflected in the lake’s waters. The effect is to add a painterly dimension to experiencing fall in Georgia’s beautiful rolling mountains.
If you’d like to have an extended fall stay at Red Top Mountain State Park, there are cottages and campsites available. It would be wise, however, to reserve a space in your preferred option as part of planning your leaf-viewing adventure.
10. Historic Banning Mills
So, how would you like to experience Georgia fall foliage from a unique vantage point? At Historic Banning Mills in Whitesburg, a short drive west of Atlanta, you can do just that. Offering a variety of zip line experiences, at Historic Banning Mills you can soar atop the colorful fall tree canopy.
If you’re a little leery of sliding down a zip line to get a new perspective on fall colors, don’t be. At Historic Banning Mills, you’ll get thorough instruction and close attention from staff to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
However, if you prefer a slower pace, Historic Banning Mills has a number of walking trails for enjoying Georgia fall foliage. You can follow water raceways that used to serve the mills, old town streets, or old Creek Indian paths.
Wrapping up Georgia Fall Foliage: Top Viewing Spots
With fall weather that doesn’t get unusually cold, northern Georgia is a great place to see foliage bursting into bright autumnal color. And now that you know some of the best places to view the splendor of Georgia fall foliage, all that’s left for you is to plan your trip.
- About the Author
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As a longtime homeowner, Jim Thompson has tried over the years, with varying degrees of success, to enhance his residential landscapes.
As a reporter and editor for newspapers in rural Georgia, Jim interacted frequently with agricultural experts from the University of Georgia Extension Service, learning about soils and other aspects of growing things for both commercial and residential purposes.
A graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in political science, Jim covered a variety of beats before retiring and embarking on writing for Minneopa Orchards.
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org