Fall in the Mountains of North Georgia (Where to See the Best Fall Colors)

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The infamous heat of summer in the Deep South has finally started to wane, thankfully replaced by the cool, crisp air of autumn.

This is that magical time of year when more and more people are increasingly inclined to explore the great outdoors of the Georgia mountains.

Fall in the mountains of North Georgia gradually brings an explosion of vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues.

So it’s an especially gorgeous time for hiking, camping, backpacking, and fishing, or even just taking a road trip through Georgia’s Blue Ridge region.

Whether you’re looking for dramatic mountain views or an immersive hike through the fantastic foliage, here’s our list of the best places in the North Georgia mountains to see fall colors…

Fall Colors in North Georgia Mountains Guide

  1. Brasstown Bald
  2. Rabun Bald
  3. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
  4. Vogel State Park
  5. Tallulah Gorge Waterfalls
  6. Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls
  7. Red Top Mountain State Park
  8. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
  9. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge
  10. Yonah Mountain
  11. Black Rock Mountain State Park
  12. Anna Ruby Falls
  13. Fort Mountain State Park
  14. Slaughter Mountain
  15. Unicoi State Park
View from Brasstown Bald Mountain
View from atop Brasstown Bald, via Canva

1. Brasstown Bald

Reaching an elevation of 4,784 feet (making it the tallest mountain in the state), it’s no surprise that Brasstown Bald leads off our list of the best places to see fall colors in Georgia.

Towering over the nearly 867,000-acre Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, the summit rewards you with striking 360-degree views spanning four states (Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina) on a clear day.

After a mildly grueling .55-mile hike up the mountain (or a quick trip on the shuttle bus for $2), you definitely won’t be disappointed.

The crisp autumn air and expansive views are nothing short of breathtaking, with those distinctive rolling hills the Blue Ridge mountains are famous for.

Brasstown Bald is also among the first locations where the leaves change in Georgia, so you can see glimpses of North Georgia’s fall colors earlier in the year.

READ MORE: The 15 Best North Georgia Mountains for Hiking

“View from Rabun Bald” by Martin Bravenboer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

2. Rabun Bald

Soaring above the Appalachian range in northeast Georgia, Rabun Bald is one of the most spectacular mountains in North Georgia from which to see the changing fall foliage.

Reaching an elevation of 4,695 feet, it’s the second tallest mountain in Georgia, offering rewarding hiking experiences at any time of the year.

But the summit views are absolutely stunning around the changing of the seasons.

You not only get to see the Georgia autumn leaves, but also the rolling hills and warm colors of North Carolina’s wilderness.

Hiking to the summit along the Bartram Trail is 3 miles round trip, and it’s known for being quite intense. But once you make it to those enchanting scenic views, it will all be worth it!

READ MORE: Top 10 NC State Parks in the North Carolina Mountains

“Sope Creek” by www78 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

3. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area stretches along a series of 15 different sites between Atlanta and Lake Sidney Lanier on the Chattahoochee River.

Perfect for exploring as the fall colors in Georgia begin to show, these scenic areas offer an array of fun activities.

Nature lovers will enjoy everything from bird and wildlife watching to canoeing/kayaking, tubing, fishing, hiking, and more.

Whether you want to walk alongside the river under the huge pine trees at Island Ford, explore the ruins and streams at Sope Creek, or hike along the fitness trail at Cochran Shoals, exploring the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is a great autumn activity in North Georgia!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Day Trips From Atlanta for Nature Lovers

Lake Trahylta in Vogel State Park, North Georgia
Blairsville’s Vogel State Park, photo by Rachael Seeley

4. Vogel State Park

To experience all that Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains in fall has to offer, a trip to Vogel State Park in Blairsville is absolutely a must.

With several adventurous hiking trails winding throughout the landscape, you’ll be encompassed in the beauty of the Blue Ridge foliage.

But perhaps the best way to see the stunning North Georgia fall colors in the park is hiking around the Vogel State Park lake, Lake Trahlyta.

The reflection of the warm autumn colors on the water are truly something spectacular, and make for some postcard-worthy photos (see above).

For an easy hike where you can take in the gorgeous views, the 1.1-mile Trahlyta Lake Trail follows along the shoreline and eventually leads you to the cascades of Trahlyta Falls as well.

READ MORE: Vogel State Park: Camping, Hiking & History in North Georgia

Tallulah Gorge State Park, North Georgia Mountains
Tallulah Gorge State Park, North Georgia Mountains via GAStateparks.org

5. Tallulah Gorge Waterfalls

With its dynamic landscapes (including the 2-mile long, nearly 1,000-foot deep Tallulah Gorge), Tallulah Gorge State Park is truly a one-of-a-kind place to experience autumn in Georgia.

Whether you’re exploring 20 miles of hiking trails or catching jaw-dropping views from the 80-foot-high suspension bridge above the gorge, there simply isn’t a bad view to be found here.

But where Georgia’s fall colors really shine best is around the beautiful Tallulah Falls, an incredible set of six cascading waterfalls surrounded by colorful oak and maple trees.

The Hurricane Falls Trail and Sliding Rock Trail are popular hikes to explore the area, visiting both the thundering Hurricane Falls and picturesque Bridal Veil Falls.

If you want a bird’s eye view of the falls from the canyon’s rim, try the North & South Rim Trails!

READ MORE: The 10 Best North Georgia State Parks

Cloudland Canyon State Park - North Georgia
Cloudland Canyon Scenic Overlook

6. Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls 

Of all the waterfalls in Georgia, Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls are some of the most beautiful and beloved. Especially if you’re looking to spot some truly vibrant fall colors!

Located in Northwest Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park, the two falls can be seen from the popular 2.1-mile Cloudland Canyon Waterfalls Trail.

Starting at the East Rim parking area, you will be guided along the canyon walls to visit Cherokee Falls. Then you’ll continue on to a wooden viewing platform, where you can stare in awe at Hemlock Falls as it drops over 90 feet to the canyon floor.

With the vibrant backdrop of the changing mountain leaves, visiting these waterfalls is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Autumn season.

READ MORE: The Top 15 North Georgia Waterfalls (& How to Get to Them)

Sunset on Lake Allatoona near Red Top Mountain State Park
Sunset on Lake Allatoona near Red Top, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Red Top Mountain State Park

Located less than an hour drive from downtown Atlanta, Red Top Mountain State Park is an awesome place in North Georgia to visit in the fall months.

Naturally boasting warm red hues that come from the soil’s high iron-ore content, this park in Cartersville is truly a sight in autumn. You’ll see southern red oaks, beeches, and red maples scattered across the park.

The park also offers direct access to Lake Allatoona, where you can relax by the shoreline and enjoy the reflection of the colorful North Georgia mountain foliage on the water.

To explore deeper into the forest, there are also more than 15 miles of hiking trails and well as 4 miles of biking trails to be explored.

READ MORE: Visiting the Expedition: Bigfoot Museum in Cherry Log, GA

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway in Blue Ridge GA
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

For a truly spectacular way to experience the Blue Ridge Mountains in fall, take a ride through the Appalachian foothills of North Georgia on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.

An unforgettable experience at any time of year, this train becomes truly magical with the seasonal Fall Foliage rides that run from the end of September through the beginning of November.

As you depart from the historic depot in downtown Blue Ridge, GA, the train winds along the charming Toccoa River.

As you make your way to the twin towns of McCaysville, GA and Copperhill, TN, you’ll watch the red, orange, and yellow hues of the stunning landscapes passing by outside of your window.

Tickets can be purchased in advance on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway’s website. But be quick, as tickets for the Fall Foliage rides tend to sell out fast!

READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Blue Ridge, GA

“Amicalola Falls” by gentleolas is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

9. Amicalola Falls State Park & Lodge

Located just eight miles from the southern end of the Appalachian Trail, Amicalola Falls State Park is a premier location to experience the beauty of the fall colors in north Georgia.

Ten different hiking trails wind throughout the park, including the Amicalola Falls Loop Trail, which takes you on a series of stairs along the park’s main attraction of the park.

At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest waterfall in Georgia, spilling down seven cascades.

The area offers a stunning display of natural beauty, especially when the backdrop is the brilliant shades of autumn.

This is a popular park for overnight trips, with plenty of cabins and campsites to stay in as well as the Amicalola Lodge, which offers a variety of accommodations.

READ MORE: Wood Haven Retreat, the Perfect Blue Ridge Cabin Rental

10. Yonah Mountain

Situated between the charming towns of Cleveland and Helen, GA, Yonah is one of the most beautiful north GA mountains.

Its dazzling summit views are made all the more special when the colors of fall emerge.

The hike to the summit is 2.2 miles from the base of the mountain, taking you through the mixed  forest of hardwoods and mountain laurel.

As you peer out across the horizon, you’ll see the mountains of North Georgia covered in a blanket of vibrant red, orange, yellow, and brown hues that are nothing short of spectacular.

When you’ve soaked up as much of the views as you want, the hike retraces its steps back down the mountain for a total distnce of 4.4 miles.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes for NC Day Trips

Blue RIdge Mountains seen from overlook in Black Rock Mountain State Park
Black Rock Mountain State Park, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

11. Black Rock Mountain State Park

Reaching altitudes of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain State Park is Georgia’s highest state park.

Looming large above the tiny town of Clayton, GA, this massive mountain allows for some truly incredible views of the Blue Ridge region in fall.

Located on the Eastern Continental Divide, the state park offers a variety of hiking trails ranging from easy (Black Rock Lake) to strenuous (Ada-Hi Falls).

But for those really outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains’ fall colors, you’re going to want to take the Tennessee Rock Trail.

This 2.2-mile trail guides you through some of the park’s highest forests, giving you spectacular views that span almost 80 miles across Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Curtis Creek and York Creek, the twin falls of Anna Ruby Falls, GA
Anna Ruby Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

12. Anna Ruby Falls

Formed at the junction of Curtis Creek and York Creek, Anna Ruby Falls is a rare pair of gorgeous side-by-side waterfalls located near Helen, Georgia.

The main hike to the falls begins at the Visitors Center (you can also take the Smith Creek Trail from Unicoi State Park) and leads you to two wooden viewing platforms.

The warm fall colors surround you as you take in the sight of water cascading down into Smith Creek, from which it eventually flows into the Chattahoochee River.

At just under a mile, this round-trip hike is perfect if you’re looking for an easy way to experience the beautiful North Georgia fall colors, with the added perk of the stunning falls!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Western North Carolina Waterfalls For Hiking

“Fort Mountain State Park” by rctfan2 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

13. Fort Mountain State Park

One of the best state parks in North Georgia, Fort Mountain makes for an especially great visit when the fall colors begin to peak.

Before you even reach the park, you’ll see the beautiful changing colors of the mountain foliage as you take a scenic drive on Highway 52, entering the Cohutta Wilderness.

Once you’re in the park, there’s no shortage of beautiful scenery to be found. There are hardwood forests, streams, and historic buildings (such as the stone fire tower, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

With 25+ miles of hiking trails and 27 miles for mountain biking, this park is perfect for either a relaxing day trip to enjoy the changing colors of fall or an adventurous exploration of nature.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks in NC & VA

Slaughter Mountain Viewed from Lake Winfield Scott is licensed by CC0 1.0

14. Slaughter Mountain

Located in Union County within the Chattahoochee National Forest, Slaughter Mountain is another great place to see the colors of fall in the North Georgia mountains.

With some of the state’s best hiking, experienced trekkers will not be disappointed by the wide variety of trails that explore different areas of the mountain.

To reach the jaw-dropping summit views, start by taking the Byron Reese Trail uphill along the Appalachian Trail to Blood Mountain.

The trail guides you through rocky forest and connects with the Duncan Ridge Trail. There, the forest opens to reveal gorgeous views of the colorful fall foliage covering the mountain landscape.

There and back, the hike is 7.5 miles. But with the stellar views at the summit, it’s well worth it!

READ MORE: A Beginner’s Guide to Pisgah National Forest, NC

“Unicoi State Park” by mckeaton is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

15. Unicoi State Park

Located close to charming Georgia mountain towns such as Helen, Hiawassee, and Dahlonega, Unicoi State Park is a truly wonderful place to experience autumn in Georgia.

The park encompasses 1029 acres filled with a variety of hiking trails for exploring different areas of Unicoi (Including the lake loop and the Smith Creek trail to Anna Ruby Falls).

Hiking offers excellent adventures into the forest and changing mountain foliage. But for great photos of the mesmerizing colorful views, be sure to stop at Unicoi Lake.

Acting as the centerpiece of the park, the lake is truly breathtaking in fall, when the jaw-dropping backdrop of the colorful mountains and trees are reflected in the water.

The beach area by the lake is great for fishing, relaxing, and just soaking in the views. Boat and standup paddleboard rentals are available as well. –by Christina Maggitas; lead photo of Brasstown Bald by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Growing up in rural south Georgia, Christina Maggitas developed a love for nature at a young age and spent the majority of her formative years outdoors. Since first visiting the Great Smokey Mountains with her family as a child, she has always admired the beauty of the Blue Ridge region and spends as much time as she can hiking north Georgia. She has a passion for writing and storytelling with the hopes of inspiring others to enjoy the great outdoors. Currently, Christina is a senior at Kennesaw State University where she is studying Journalism and Emerging Media.