Lots of options to enjoy the fall foliage in North Georgia
Last weekend was such a great weekend. First of all, the weather was so nice – early fall weather, which unfortunately could be an anomaly. A heavy heat wave has often been linked to the past Septembers. Maybe we’ll have a break this year.
In two weeks, it will be October, the most emotional month of the year. April, with its floral splendor, is a favorite month, but the fourth month of the year brings a flood of pollen which is my nemesis. I can’t enjoy dogwoods and azaleas without pain and suffering, even though last year I got by with a pill that seemed to make a difference.
Even when the pollen doesn’t compromise or complicate my life, April is subordinate to October when it comes to preferred months. Fall color is something we look forward to with the greatest anticipation. You can find splendid foliage in the west. You can find it in New England, which generally ranks among the best in America, but you can also find it in North Georgia: Blairsville, Hiawassee, Brasstown Bald, and in many cases your own backyard. Or, your neighbor’s.
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With the heavy rains we have had this year, I wondered what the prospects are for an inviting leaf color that could come in late October when the fall color usually peaks in Georgia. I contacted Walter Reeves, Georgia’s gardener, for an expert opinion. He said it better than a landscaping teacher: “Hot days and clear, cool nights and dry weather are best. The warm, sunny days of early fall maintain photosynthesis and produce enough chlorophyll in the leaves to start. When the nights turn cool, chlorophyll breaks down revealing red, orange and yellow colors. This means that the rain showers we had this summer should be gone. We have about six weeks left before our peak color usually appears.
Of course, I hope to get the best results. Regardless (which is now considered an acceptable word), there are options for you to renew, such as fly fishing for a rainbow over the Chattahoochee and visiting the various communities in North Georgia who are hosting a festival of some type on an annual basis. Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega, Apple Festival in Ellijay, Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville, Sorghum Festival in Blairsville, Georgia Mountain Festival in Hiawassee and Octoberfest in Helen.
Despite having been fortunate enough to visit the Rockies and New England in the fall – and it’s an unforgettable experience – North Georgia has a lot to enjoy and enjoy. Our Appalachians don’t have the majesty of the Rockies, and we don’t have the abundance of hardwoods you find in New England – but drive the Richard Russell Scenic Highway and you’ll find breathtaking color and beauty.
Hike the Yonah Mountain Trail, spend time at one of the many waterfalls such as the Minnehaha Falls Springboard in Tallulah Falls, Anna Ruby Falls in Helen, Toccoa Falls on Toccoa Falls College Campus and the highest Falls (729 feet): Amicalola Falls near Dawsonville and you’ll vow to come back when you start. (Amicacola in the Cherokee language means rushing waters, by the way.)
If you must experience Brasstown Bald sunrise you will have a rich experience that will stay in your mind as long as you breathe.
There are camping options for those who want to snuggle up with nature and enjoy a restful night under the stars. There are several state parks, including Cloudland Canyon and Vogel, and communities such as Suches.
Vineyards abound in the northern part of our state. An Italian friend, a graduate from Georgia, works in the wine industry in Cortona, Italy, which has close ties to UGA. It gives high marks to the wines of Georgia. My favorite is Tiger Mountain Vineyards in Tiger.
With Georgia enjoying a strong start to football, one can combine a dedication to the Dawgs and the best of fall in North Georgia, doubling your fun.
Soon there will be a need for firewood. Come on, October. I am ready for you.