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Georgia State Parks launch annual "leaf watch"
Leaf watch commences pic
For many people, the perfect autumn weekend includes cozy campfires and gooey s’mores surrounded by fiery-hued forests. To help leaf peepers plan their fall escapes, Georgia’s state parks have launched Leaf Watch 2017 to track fall color as it moves across the Peach State.

Found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/LeafWatch, the travel planner is filled with top trails and overlooks, mountain cabins and campsites, fall events and hiking safety tips. 

Shutterbugs are encouraged to share their favorite shots on the Georgia State Parks’ Facebook page and Instagram, tagging #GaLeafWatch and #GaStateParks. Rangers will also post updates on how fall color is progressing in their parks.

Typically, Georgia’s mountain parks peak in late October; however, color can be seen as early as September and throughout much of November. Some of the most popular parks for leaf watching include Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Tallulah Gorge and Vogel.

Since mountain parks are heavily visited on October weekends, travelers may want to explore lesser-known parks which can be vibrant as well. Hardwoods and mossy rock gardens can be found at F.D. Roosevelt State Park in near Columbus. Deep orange cypress needles reflect off a shimmering pond at George L. Smith State Park in southeast Georgia.

Georgia State Parks offer a variety of accommodations where leaf peepers can stay in the heart of autumn scenery.

Guests can choose from cabins, campsites and yurts – a “glamping” option that is like a combination tent-cabin.  Accommodations may be reserved 13 months in advance, and many fill up on October weekends. Guests are encouraged to make plans as early as possible or visit during weekdays.

Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-864-7275 or at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/reservations.


Park rangers have planned numerous events throughout autumn, including guided hikes and paddles, fall festivals, Halloween hayrides and campground trick-or-treating. A list of events can be found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.

The top ten Georgia State Parks for fall color includes Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonvill. Amicalola Falls is the southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall.

A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views.  There is also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top.  For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.

Others that made the list of the most popular places for leaf-peeping include Black Rock Mountain in Clayton, Cloudland Canyon State Park near Chattanooga, F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Moccasin Creek State Park in Lake Burton, Smithgall Woods State Park and Unicoi State Park in Helen, Tallulah Gorge State Park near Clayton and Vogel State Park in Blairsville.

 

Safe Hiking Tips

Rangers from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources offer these tips for safe hiking:

●     Avoid hiking alone.

●     Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.  Remember to let them know when you are back.

●     Stay on marked trails. As you hike, pay attention to trail blazes and landmarks. A double blaze indicates a change in trail direction or intersection, so be sure to follow the correct trail.

●     Never climb on waterfalls or wet rocks.

●     Always carry quality rain gear, and turn back in bad weather.

●     Dress in layers and avoid cotton.

●     All hikers should carry a whistle (especially children), which can be heard far away and takes less energy than yelling.

●     Carry plenty of drinking water and never assume stream water is safe to drink.

●     Don’t count on cell phones to work in the wilderness, but if they do, be able to give details about your location.

●     Don’t rely on a GPS to prevent you from getting lost. Batteries can die or the equipment can become damaged or lost.