One of the most commonly asked questions at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce is “when is the best time to see the leaves?” The answer to that question is difficult. The most common response is “the third and fourth week in October” However, there is a very scientific reason that determines the amount of color we are privileged to see in the autumn season. Let’s take a closer look at this.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, “The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences.
A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. During these days, lots of sugars are produced in the leaf but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins going into the leaf prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions-lots of sugar and lots of light-spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint reds, purples, and crimson. Because carotenoids are always present in leaves, the yellow and gold colors remain fairly constant from year to year.
The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn colors. Like the weather, soil moisture varies greatly from year to year. The countless combinations of these two highly variable factors assure that no two autumns can be exactly alike. A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall will also lower the intensity of autumn colors. A warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights should produce the most brilliant autumn colors.”
We believe that the autumn of 2016 is going to be a brilliant one! Make your plans to come visit the North Georgia Mountains from the end of October through the beginning of November. Some of the best leaf peeping spots in Blairsville-Union County are:
- The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a nationally designated Scenic Byway that is 40.64 miles in length and makes a loop through the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest. http://www.exploregeorgia.org/listing/3955-russell-brasstown-scenic-byway-cnf
- Lake Winfield Scott offers a myriad of fall color along with a small beautiful lake. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/conf/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=10528&actid=29
- Brasstown Bald rises 4,784 feet above sea level and is Georgia’s tallest mountain. Visitors to this place on high find an observation deck which allows a spectacular 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, exhibits, a film, hiking trails, and gift shop. http://cfaia.org/brasstown-bald-recreation-area-visitor-centers-in-georgia/
- Vogel State Park One of Georgia’s oldest and most beloved state parks is particularly popular during the fall when the Blue Ridge Mountains transform into a rolling blanket of red, yellow and gold leaves. Hikers can choose from a variety of trails, including the popular 4-mile Bear Hair Gap loop, an easy lake loop that leads to Trahlyta Falls, and the challenging 13-mile Coosa Backcountry Trail. http://www.gastateparks.org/Vogel
- The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches over 2,146+ miles from Georgia to Maine. With over 74 miles of the southern route in North Georgia, the Appalachian Trail offers the ultimate in hiking opportunities. http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/explore-the-trail/explore-by-state/georgia
- The Southern Highroads Trail can be traveled in its entirety or in sections. This very scenic route travels through four national forests (Chattahoochee, Nantahala, Cherokee, and Sumter) and four states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia). http://www.southernhighroads.org/
To keep an eye on the leaf changing over the next few weeks, check out http://gastateparks.org/LeafWatch or https://smokymountains.com/fall-foliage-map/. Both of these websites, and many others, will keep you up-to-date on the expected peak of fall for the North Georgia Mountains.
For detailed local area information including maps, directions, dining, lodging, and upcoming event information please stop by The Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, call 706-745-5789, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.