Hiking through the fall colors in Georgia is one of my favorite things to do! We often get questions about when and where to go, so we’ve compiled our answers for you here. Leaf peepers will love these hikes, parks and activities made for fall!
WHEN TO SEE FALL COLORS IN GEORGIA
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, peak color for Georgia in 2022 is October 19 – November 4 – yes, the same exact date range as 2021. Remember that the leaves will always peak faster in the North Georgia Mountains than in the city.
WHERE TO SEE FALL COLORS IN GEORGIA
Brasstown Bald is the highest peak in Georgia, with great views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Additionally, from the observation deck above the visitor center, you can see parts of four states: Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Keep in mind that the colors peak at Brasstown Bald well before other parts of North Georgia due to its extraordinary height. At 4,784 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in Georgia, and it basically has its own micro-climate — similar to Massachusetts.
There are four great hikes here, three of which are fairly lengthy and make great day hikes:
- Brasstown Bald Trail is the most popular, a steep 1.4-mile trail from the parking lot to the Bald.
- Jacks Knob Trail is a difficult 8.3 mile RT climb to the Appalachian Trail.
- Arkaquah Trail is another challenging and steep climb. The 12 mile RT trail takes you to Track Rock Gap.
- Wagon Train Trail is not as difficult a climb as the other longer treks mentioned here. The 13-mile hike will take you to Young Harris College and back.
WITHIN A GEORGIA STATE PARK
RED TOP MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
Named for the soil’s rich red color caused by high iron-ore content, Red Top Mountain was once an important mining area. Today, this state park offers lovely hikes for a leaf watch that aren’t as far from home as many North Georgia Parks.
Bring your bike for a 4-mile ride along the lake on the Iron Hill Bike Trail; the colors look amazing reflected in the water. My favorite trail is Homestead Trail, which is a 5.5-mile balloon that takes you along many homesteads that existed prior to the park, as well as along the edges of the lake.
BLACK ROCK MOUNTAIN STATE PARK
At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is often cooler than other Georgia parks. It’s the park with the highest elevation, and will likely change colors sooner than others, with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You’ll find 11 miles of trails here for exploring. If you can, I recommend hiking the 7.2-mile moderate James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. You’ll climb to the top of Lookoff Mountain (not Lookout!) with views of the leaves in the Wolffork Valley.
The park’s most popular trail is Tennessee Rock Trail, at 2.2 miles into the densest part of the forest here. You’ll climb to Black Rock Mountain’s summit. On a clear day you can see for over 80 miles into North and South Carolina.
VOGEL STATE PARK
Vogel State Park is one of Georgia’s most beloved state parks, and one visit there will show you why. Vogel – Georgia’s second oldest state park – is located in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest near Blairsville.
Vogel is a park located close to many of our state’s most beautiful waterfalls and hikes, which makes this is a place that cannot be missed. The drive to Vogel State Park is through Neels Gap, with stunning leaf color, and near Brasstown Bald.
Our favorite hiking trail here is the Bear Hair Gap Trail. It’s a moderate to strenuous 4-mile balloon that takes you along the lower section of Blood Mountain.
CLOUDLAND CANYON STATE PARK
Cloudland Canyon, once known as Sittons Gulch, is one of the prettiest of Georgia’s state parks, and a beautiful Georgia canyon. It’s located in the state’s Northwest corner about half an hour from Chattanooga, TN in Rising Fawn.
Expect Cloudland (and the next two parks…Tallulah and Amicalola) to be exceptionally busy during the fall. If you can make the visit during the week then you have a better chance of enjoying the leaves and Mother Nature with fewer people.
TALLULAH GORGE STATE PARK
Tallulah Gorge is one of the most amazing canyons in the eastern United States. It’s two miles long, and almost 1,000 feet deep!
One of the things I love most about this place, is that if you don’t feel like hiking all the way down to the bridge or the gorge floor, the views from the more easily-accessible overlooks still offer abundant leaf peeping opportunities.
AMICALOLA FALLS STATE PARK
Ask me the “must-see” attraction in my neck of the woods, and I’ll tell you it’s Amicalola Falls, showcasing the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River with grand trees following the cliff down the falls.
In addition to camping and rooms at the Amicalola Lodge, there is another unique lodging option called the Len Foote Hike Inn. The only way to reach the inn is on foot.
It’s five miles of great hiking to Len Foote Inn, which is fairly rustic, but stunningly beautiful. Read about our trip (with LOTS of pictures) here. Also, the first bit of the trail (1 mile??) is both a trail for the Hike Inn, and the Appalachian connector approach trail that leads to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. Kinda cool.
ON THE BLUE RIDGE SCENIC RAILWAY
Southern Living ranked the fall foliage trip on Blue Ridge Scenic Railway as one of the top five attractions for experiencing Georgia fall color. We have to agree. The oranges, reds and yellows dance in the background as you take the 26-mile trip along the beautiful Toccoa River and through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
I recommend the open-air car for the best views – just be sure to bring a jacket for the wind.
The Fall Foliage rides are available all of October and into the first week of November, generally. I’ll be honest, this is the most expensive excursion they offer – but it is genuinely worth every single penny.
WHERE TO STAY FOR THE BEST LEAF PEEPING
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR FALL LEAF PEEPING ADVENTURES
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- FALL IN ATLANTA: 43+ Freaking Fabulous Ways To Cozy Up To Fall In & Around Atlanta
- FALL FESTIVALS: 2021: The 55+ Best Fall Festivals In Georgia That You’ll Love
- HIKE INN: “Hike Inn” To This Epic Fall Destination Perfect For Outdoor Families
- FALL IN THE N GA MTNS: 6 Incredible Ways To Enjoy Fall In The Georgia Mountains
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