“It’s a Georgia travel planner for people wanting to see the best fall color this year,” said Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites. “And it suggests top parks, top trails, overlooks. It highlights the different kinds of accommodations. It gives a list of fall events that people might want to go enjoy. There’s safe hiking tips and a number of other resources.
“It really started because for so many years people would call our offices, asking where to go for fall color and when would be the best time [or] peak,” she said, adding typically the peak time for leaf viewing is late October to early November. “I remember one year, we got a note from somebody from Florida who planned her whole vacation around what we had posted on Leaf Watch and had driven from Florida to Amicalola Falls.”
For Bartow residents, Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site and Red Top Mountain State Park are the closest venues to enjoy. This year Red Top was included on the Top 15 Georgia State Parks for Fall Color list, along with Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Don Carter, F.D. Roosevelt, Fort Mountain, Hard Labor Creek, James H. Sloppy Floyd, Moccasin Creek, Smithgall Woods, Sweetwater Creek, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi and Vogel.
In addition to Leaf Watch’s website, online users also will be able to access the Georgia Forestry Commission’s offerings by visiting www.gatrees.org.
“Basically what [a forester told me] is that as long as fall dries out a little bit — as long as we’re not getting quite as much rain in the fall — and we get some cool nights over the next couple of weeks, we can expect a pretty good showing this year for the fall leaf season,” said Wendy Burnett, director of public relations for the Georgia Forestry Commission. “... If not, then he said the leaves would probably turn pretty quickly and turn loose pretty quickly as well.
“We usually start our leaf watch, which you can follow along on our blog on the first week, sometimes the second week of October, and it will run through probably the first or second week of November,” she said, adding there is a link to the blog on the Georgia Forestry Commission’s website. “... Every week, we have a forester on the northwest part of the state and a forester on the northeast part of the state that will go out and scout for us and let us know which trees are starting to show and what viewers can look for. Then they also give some suggested driving routes based on their scouting. So it’s a very comprehensive look at the fall leaf season and where people can go to see that particular week’s best showing.”