Georgia is known for its beautiful fall foliage, which is spectacular among the state’s beautiful mountains, lakes, valleys, and state parks. Some of the best leaf peeping in Georgia is found in the northern half of the state, especially along the Blue Ridge Mountains. But where should you go to see the glorious fall foliage in Georgia? Here are the six best spots for leaf peeping in the Peach State!

When is the Best Time to go Leaf Peeping in Georgia?

Many factors go into when the leaves change color, so it’s hard to say exactly when the best colors will peak each year. Fortunately, due to the landscape’s diverse elevations throughout the state, the fall colors last for a long time, with leaves across the state shifting from September all the way into late November.

Starting in September or early October, the leaves in the mountains of northern Georgia slowly begin to change color. The leaves in these higher elevations also peak much earlier than in lower areas and in cities. The changing colors continue moving to lower elevations in late October and early November.

However, late October is commonly best for prime leaf peeping in Georgia. You can also check Georgia’s Leaf Watch for current updates. So, grab your camera and get ready to enjoy some of the most stunning views nature has to offer in the six best spots for leaf peeping in Georgia!

1. Brasstown Bald

What could be a better spot for leaf peeping in Georgia than the highest point in the entire state? Brasstown Bald in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest is 4,784 feet above sea level and is so high up that it essentially has its own microclimate. Because of this, the leaves here reach their peak foliage much earlier than in other parts of northern Georgia. The leaves begin changing color in September here and often reach peak foliage in mid-October.

Brasstown Bald offers stupendous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as four different states! If you hike up to the observation deck above the visitor center, you can see not only Georgia, but also South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. There are many other hikes that offer glorious views of the fall foliage as well. The true challenge is to hike Arkaquah Trail all the way to the top of the peak. It’s a difficult hike but offers tremendously beautiful views along the way.

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However, you can also take a much simpler route via the 1.4-mile trail by the visitor center. Although the path is paved, it is quite steep and not well-suited for strollers or wheelchairs. To access this smaller trail, you’ll need to pay the $5 parking lot fee as well.

Brasstown Bald (mountain) with fall foliage
Due to its high elevation, the leaves at Brasstown Bald change earlier than in other parts of northern Georgia.

ChattOconeeNF, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License

2. Red Top Mountain State Park

Less than an hour from Atlanta, Red Top Mountain State Park is an excellent place for leaf peeping in northern Georgia. The best spots in the park to see fall leaves are the overlooks on the mountain roads. The leaves change color early at these high elevations, and the views are spectacular. So, the best time to go to Red Top Mountain State Park to see the leaves is in the early fall, usually around mid-October, when the leaves are changing color at these high elevations.

There are also several hiking trails that lead to great leaf-viewing spots. A great option is the overlook trail on Highway 20. This winding mountain road offers spectacular views of the fall foliage. And if you’re looking for a challenge, try hiking to the top of Pine Mountain. It’s definitely worth the effort when you see the amazing views from the summit.

The 5.5-mile Homestead Trail passes many historical homesteads that once existed in this area, with several fantastic views of Lake Allatoona. You can also bike along the lake using the four-mile Iron Hill Bike Trail. There are also several ponds and lakes that offer great fishing spots. And if you’re lucky, you may even see some deer or other wildlife while you’re there. Or if you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the autumn scenery, try one of the park’s many picnic areas.

Allatoona Lake in Fall
There are several hiking trails at Red Top Mountain State Park with great leaf-viewing spots.

davetoaster / Flickr

3. Black Rock Mountain State Park

Georgia’s Black Rock Mountain State Park has a higher elevation than many other areas in the state, which means the temperatures here are cooler and the leaves usually change color sooner. This is a great spot for leaf peeping in northeastern Georgia if you are wanting to head out to enjoy the beautiful colors earlier in the season.

There are several trails in the park to explore, like the James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail that goes to the top of Lookoff Mountain. The trail is 7.2 miles with beautiful views of the fall colors in Wolffork Valley. There are even a few small campsites here if you want to sleep among the lovely leaves.

For a shorter trail, you can try the Tennessee Rock Trail, which is only 2.2 miles. The trail climbs to the summit of Black Rock Mountain (approximately 3,640 feet), and traverses dense forests filled with stunning colors. If you happen to go there on a clear day, you can see for more than 80 miles into South and North Carolina.

4. Amicalola Falls State Park

If you drive about an hour and a half north of Atlanta, you’ll find the majestic Amicalola Falls State Park and one of the tallest waterfalls in the Southeast. To get to the falls, take Highway 52 North from Dawsonville. The park entrance will be on your right about five miles after you leave town. There is a $5 parking fee per vehicle, and there are several hiking trails to choose from.

Amicalola Falls State Park contains 829 acres of unspoiled wildlife and wilderness in North Georgia. There are several trails to choose from, with both easy and more challenging hikes to get to the falls. Whichever path you choose, this 729-foot cascading waterfall is definitely worth the trek!

In addition to the spectacular views of the waterfall, the scenery is stunning in the fall. If you would like to stay for more than a day, there is a campground with water and electricity sites. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not get a thrilling view of the leaves as you soar through the park on a zipline? In addition, you can stay at the Len Foote Hike Inn, which offers some of the most spectacular views of fall foliage in the park. The only way to get to this unique inn, however, is by hiking there!

Cascading waterfall in Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia
Along with stunning fall scenery, Amicalola Falls State Park is home to this spectacular 729-foot cascading waterfall. Pavone

5. Tallulah Gorge State Park

Although it is impressive all year round, the Tallulah Gorge State Park in southeast Georgia is an even more stunning sight in the fall. For serious hikers who are looking for a longer hike, head over to the Interpretive Center first thing in the morning for a permit so you can hike down to the floor of the gorge. Although these permits are free, the park only gives out 100 each day, so be sure to get there first thing. Also be sure to wear the appropriate shoes, as you won’t be given a permit if you only come in Crocs or flip-flops, since the hike can be quite demanding.

There are several overlooks in the gorge, which is around 1,000 feet deep and two miles long! This area is ideal for hiking and experiencing the beautiful fall scenery. Thrill seekers can also enjoy the autumn colors while whitewater kayaking. You can get a unique and immersive view of fiery fall colors, the river, and a few waterfalls on the suspension bridge, 80 feet above the gorge. The bridge sits about 2.25 miles from the Interpretive Center, via the Hurricane Falls Trail (heads up, this trail has lots of steps).

Many of the trails in Tallulah Gorge are challenging, so be sure to come prepared and stay hydrated, especially if you plan to travel down to the gorge floor. You can’t take any animals with you if you go to the gorge floor, however, or on the suspension bridge, Hurricane Falls staircase, or the sliding rock trail. But you can walk with pets on leashes along the rim trails, which also have many excellent overlooks. The South Rim Trail in particular offers some truly extraordinary scenic overlooks, and it is only 2.25 miles long.

Scenic fall colors overlooking Tallulah Gorge
Gorgeous leaf foliage can be seen overlooking the Tallulah Gorge, which is around 1,000 feet deep and two miles long. Pavone

6. The Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

The 26-mile trip aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is one of the best ways to experience prime leaf peeping in Georgia. The trip starts in downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia, at the historic depot. The railway takes you through the Appalachian foothills, the picturesque countryside of northern Georgia, and along the Toccoa River, passing forests filled with vibrant red, yellow, and orange leaves. The first leg of the journey is about one hour.

Along the way, the railway passes through quaint Georgia towns and then stops for a two-hour layover at the twin cities of McCaysville, Georgia, and Copperhill, Tennessee. This is a great place to explore the specialty shops, grab some ice cream, and get a picture of you and your family standing in both Georgia and Tennessee at the same time! The return journey is another hour, so the trip in its entirety is four hours long. You can also book a ride on the railway’s Fall Foliage Express, which is only two hours long.

Railway rides are typically open in late September and go through the first week of November, and they can be a bit pricey. However, the experience is well worth it. You can choose between closed coach cars, which have padded seats and large windows, or open-air coach cars, which have outward-facing bench seats.

While the closed coach cars are climate-controlled and comfortable, many visitors prefer the open-air coach cars for an up-close and immersive leaf-peeping experience. Just be sure to bring a jacket since the wind can get a bit chilly in the fall. Seating is unassigned, so be sure to arrive early so that you can sit with your friends and family.

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway - Blue Ridge, Georgia
The 26-mile trip aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is one of the best ways to experience prime leaf peeping in Georgia.

Olin Gilbert / Flickr

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