Cooler temperatures and scattered bursts of autumn color have outdoor enthusiasts anticipating "leaf peeping" season across north Georgia. Again this year, the Georgia Forestry Commission is partnering with the state Department of Natural Resources to provide updates on leaf color changes and the best locations to enjoy them. Beginning October 1, the information can be found at www.gastateparks.org/LeafWatch andGaTrees.org.
"Now is the time to plug those addresses into your smart phone and computer favorites," said Ken Masten, Coosa District Manager for the Georgia Forestry Commission. "On October first, those links will be activated, and Georgians will have instant access to the week's best locations for vibrant fall color."
According to Masten, leaf color changes are triggered by cooler night temperatures and sunny days, which are beginning to occur. Masten said the long, hot, dry summer has already prompted some poplars to drop their leaves. However, normal changes are starting to occur, with sourwoods starting to exhibit some of their bright reds and burgundies; dogwoods showing yellows and reds; and red maples beginning to hint at their many shades of scarlet.
With more than two-thirds of the state now experiencing "severe to extreme drought," according to the state climatologist, Masten says the trees are likely experiencing some degree of stress. At this point, however, they are not showing any outward signs that might indicate a less than showy fall, Masten said.
Whatever the weather, autumn is the most popular time to visit the north Georgia mountains. On the Georgia Forestry Commission and Department of Natural Resources websites, visitors will find the latest information about that week's tree species' color changes, optimal vistas and suggested travel routes for enjoying fall color. In addition, the DNR site offers information and reservation links to state parks and camping facilities.
For more details on forestry in Georgia and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visitGaTrees.org.