Fall is one of the best times to visit Georgia due to crisp temperatures and the gorgeous changing of the leaves throughout the state. If you’re looking to make the most of this season, keep reading for the 15 most beautiful places to experience fall in Georgia. Discover the most popular state parks to see fall foliage, like Amicalola Falls, Fort Mountain, and Cloudland Canyon. Additionally, we’ll also cover hidden gems in Georgia for peak fall color, like Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground.
Note that peak fall foliage in Georgia normally occurs towards the end of October or early November. However, if you’d like to keep track of the leaves changing in the state, you’ll want to check out Leaf Watch. Georgia State Parks updates this website each year with photos, tips, and predictions for the Georgia fall leaves schedule.
1. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge
Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge, located in the North Georgia mountains, is home to the tallest waterfall in the state. It’s also a popular state park for leaf peeping in the fall due to its proximity to Atlanta (less than a two-hour drive) and various hiking trails. For example, many visitors choose to hike the East Ridge Trail, which leads you to the top of the falls and then back down. For a more strenuous hike, don’t miss the Approach Trail from Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain, where the Appalachian Trail officially begins.
One of this park’s hidden gems is the Hike Inn Trail, which takes you to Georgia’s only backcountry inn: The Len Foote Hike Inn. Remember that reservations are required to hike this particular trail. Plus, you’ll need to check-in at the Visitors Center before beginning your trek. Amicalola Falls charges a $5 Georgia State Park Pass; however, you can save money by purchasing a $50 Annual Park Pass at the Lodge or Visitor’s Center if you plan to visit often.
2. Tallulah Gorge State Park
Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls has several rim trails that you can hike, featuring different outlooks and waterfalls. Therefore, this Georgia State Park is one of the best places for leaf-peeping and spotting beautiful fall colors. During the fall, the most gorgeous spot at this park is the suspension bridge, which sways 80 feet over the water below. From here, you’ll have a spectacular view of the Tallulah River and upper Hurricane Falls.
Some of the most popular trails at Tallulah Gorge include the North and South Rim Trails, Hurricane Falls Loop Trail, Shortline Trail, and the Gorge Floor Trail. It’s important to remember that you need a permit to hike down to the Gorge Floor. These permits are limited to 100 per day and can be obtained at the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center on the day of your visit.
3. Black Rock Mountain State Park
Black Rock Mountain State Park in Rabun County sits along the Eastern Continental Divide at 3,640 feet (1,110 m). Moreover, it includes four other peaks over 3,000 feet tall (910 m), making it Georgia’s highest state park. Therefore, this park is an ideal spot to see the fall leaves change. Make sure to stop at the Summit Visitor Center and the roadside overlooks to take photos of the awesome views of the Blue Ridge Mountains! As far as hiking trails, the top three at Black Rock Mountain are the Tennessee Rock Trail, the James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail, and the Black Rock Lake Trail.
4. Cloudland Canyon State Park
Cloudland Canyon State Park sits on the western edge of Lookout Mountain in Rising Fawn, GA. This park features unique and rugged geology, including a deep gorge created by Sitton Gulch Creek and two waterfalls. If you’re looking for an easy hike with impressive fall foliage, check out Overlook Trail. You can find some of the best views of Cloudland Canyon at the Main Overlook! For other more strenuous trails, don’t miss the West Rim Loop Trail, the Waterfalls Trail, and Sitton’s Gulch Trail.
5. Fort Mountain State Park
You can find Fort Mountain State Park in North Georgia, nestled between Chatsworth and Ellijay. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders all enjoy visiting the 25+ miles of trails within the park no matter the time of year. However, fall in Georgia is a particularly beautiful season to visit Fort Mountain, when you can take in the stunning foliage from the park’s various overlooks. We recommend the Stone Wall, Stone Tower, and West Overlook Trails Loop, an easy 1.5-mile hiking trail, for epic views of the changing leaves. You can read more about Fort Mountain State Park’s trails here.
6. Blue Ridge, Georgia
Blue Ridge is located at the center of everything the North Georgia mountains have to offer. You’ll be close to some of the state’s top hiking trails, waterfalls, fishing areas, and more! Overall, the two most popular activities in Blue Ridge in the fall are visiting Mercier Orchards and taking a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
At Mercier Orchards, you can pick apples, picnic, purchase some fresh-baked pastries, and even visit the winery. On the other hand, the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a train journey through the North Georgia countryside, offering views of some of the most stunning fall colors in the state. If you’d like to plan your trip during peak fall foliage, we recommend purchasing Blue Ridge Scenic Railway tickets well in advance!
7. Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia, reaching 4,784 feet above sea level. Therefore, you can imagine why this mountain is so popular during the fall–its summit offers unparalleled 360-degree views of the Chattahoochee National Forest! If you happen to visit on an especially clear day, you can actually see four different states from this vantage point: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina).
We promise that the trek to the summit is 100% worth the trip. Just make sure you wear solid hiking shoes or boots with good traction. Moreover, we also advise checking the weather to ensure you travel to Brasstown Bald on a clear day. This way, you can see the view without the fog obstructing it!
8. Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park is the second oldest state park in Georgia, situated at the base of Blood Mountain in the Chattahoochee National Forest. You’ll notice beautiful fall scenery even before you make it to the park entrance, along windy roads like Wolf Pen Gap Road. Once you’ve entered Vogel, you can spot fall foliage surrounding Lake Trahlyta and even see a waterfall on the easy Lake Loop Trail. If you’re up for a challenge, hike the Bear Hair Gap Trail, which loops around the lower ridges of Blood Mountain. For an even longer hike, try the Coosa Backcountry Trail, which covers almost 13 miles.
9. Helen, Georgia
Helen is undoubtedly one of the best places to experience autumn in Georgia. Although this mountain town is located along the Chattahoochee River, it’ll make you feel like you’ve been transported to Germany! In fact, you can even find pop-up celebrations for Oktoberfest in Helen during the fall (Thursdays-Sundays Sept. 11-Nov. 7, 2021).
While in Helen, some of the best places to spot fall foliage are on hiking trails in the area. For example, don’t miss Raven Cliff Falls Trail, Anna Ruby Falls, and Dukes Creek Trail. There are also two state parks in Helen where the colors of the season are incredible: Smithgall Woods State Park and Unicoi State Park & Lodge.
10. Yonah Mountain
Yonah Mountain is situated in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest near both Helen and Cleveland, Georgia. If you’re in the mood for a hike with a stunning view of the North Georgia mountains, you’ll love the 4.2-mile Mount Yonah Trail. This hiking trail is definitely challenging, thanks to the steep climb and drop-offs. Remember to be cautious and to keep a safe distance from the edge. Although the trek is difficult, the view from the summit makes it worth its while! Plus, you can always reward yourself after the hike with a wine tasting at the nearby Yonah Mountain Vineyards.
11. Gibbs Gardens
One of the best hidden gems for fall foliage in Georgia is Gibbs Gardens, located in Ball Ground. Jim Gibbs, the estate owner, spent almost 32 years working on preparing the gardens before opening them to the public. Nowadays, the manor house and gardens cover over 300 acres! Therefore, Gibbs Gardens ranks as one of the largest residential estate gardens in the United States.
When planning to visit to see the fall colors, make sure to check the Gibbs Gardens “Bloom Update.” One of the highlights during this season has to be the Japanese Maples Colorfest, which runs from mid-October through mid-November. Ready to plan your trip? You can purchase tickets to visit Gibbs Gardens here.
12. Red Top Mountain State Park
Originally an important mining area, this park is named after the reddish color of the soil on the mountain, indicating high iron ore content. During the fall months in Georgia, Red Top Mountain State Park is one of the most visited parks in the state, thanks to its short distance from Atlanta. Plus, there are over 15 miles of hiking trails here, where you can see gorgeous fall foliage throughout the forest and surrounding Lake Allatoona. For instance, Iron Hill Trail is an easy 3.4-mile loop that’s perfect for the whole family!
13. Piedmont Park
One of the best places to experience fall in Atlanta is Piedmont Park, located between the Virginia Highland and Midtown neighborhoods. This 187-acre park features bike trails, walking paths, playgrounds, dog parks, and more! During the fall, we suggest packing a picnic and scoping out a spot on Oak Hill. Afterward, take a stroll down Park Drive Bridge and head towards Lake Clara Meer. Remember to bring your camera to snap some photos of the stunning fall colors in Piedmont Park!
14. Sweetwater Creek State Park
Another of the top Atlanta fall activities is to go hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park. This 2,549-acre park sits a short 15 miles from downtown Atlanta, making it an easy day trip. The Red Trail is the most popular hiking option, leading you along the creek’s white-water rapids and past the ruins of a Civil War-era mill. If you’d prefer a longer hike, take the Yellow or White Trail. No matter which you choose, you’ll see amazing fall foliage surrounding the creek!
15. F.D. Roosevelt State Park
F.D. Roosevelt State Park sits 80 miles southwest of Atlanta and covers an entire 9,049 acres, making it Georgia’s largest state park. Additionally, it has over 40 miles of hiking trails, including the Pine Mountain Trail, Dowdell’s Knob Trail, and Mountain Creek Trail. The most beautiful section of the park to visit in the fall is the Wolfden Loop, which takes you past a rocky wolf den and beautiful waterfalls and creeks. Please remember to wear shoes with solid traction as this trail can get muddy, and some areas may be slippery.
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