With average temps ranging from 55 to 75 degrees, Georgia’s fall weather is perfect for hiking, picnics and, most of all, scenic drives to take in the bright hues of fall foliage. The state comes alive with a stunning kaleidoscope of colors, from golden yellows to blazing reds. If you’re a leaf-peeping enthusiast or just someone looking for something new to discover this fall, you’re in for a treet! Here are the best places to take it all in and experience the red, yellow and orange palette that paints Georgia’s landscape in the fall.
All Aboard: Best Leaf-Viewing By Train
One of the most unique ways to enjoy Georgia’s fall foliage is by train. There are several options for your leaf-peeping adventure, so come aboard, grab your camera and get ready for a relaxing train ride to experience the beauty of fall in Georgia.
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway: One option for fall foliage viewing by train is the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Riders will embark on a 26-mile round-trip journey through the North Georgia mountains and can choose from a 2-hour Express Tour or a 4-hour Extended Tour. The 4-hour tour includes a 2-hour layover to get out and explore the small towns of McCaysville, GA and Cooperhill, TN, located on each state’s line. The trip departs and returns from the historic depot in Blue Ridge, Georgia, and riders can choose from a vintage, climate-controlled or open-air rail car. Tickets sell out fast, especially for fall rides, so be sure to book yours soon! Fall rides are between September 21st and November 6th; tickets can be purchased at brscenic.com.
Historic SAM Shortline Railroad: One of Georgia’s hidden gems, the SAM Shortline, takes you through quaint towns and lush countryside, where vintage locomotives and charming carriages ride through Southwest Georgia’s small towns. They have several themed excursions, including a Murder Mystery Dinner Train, a Wine and Cheese Train, a Halloween Express and more. You can choose from Coach, Deluxe, Premium or Chairman’s seating. The SAM Shortline isn’t just a ride; it’s a portal to the past, a symphony of sights and sounds that captures the essence of Southern heritage. Tickets can be purchased at samshortline.com.
Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad: Climb aboard a full-size locomotive from the 1940s at Stone Mountain Park. Enjoy a 5-mile excursion on the Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad around the mountain in open-air cars with a shorter trip that lasts about 25-30 minutes. It’s important to note that an annual or day parking permit is required for Park entry. You can enjoy the Scenic Railroad with an Attractions Ticket or Mountain Membership, so be prepared for a day of fun at Stone Mountain Park! Visit stonemountainpark.com for more information on tickets, the Scenic Railroad, Festivals and Events, Camping and Lodging, and more!
Walking Wonders: Best Leaf-Viewing By Foot
We’ve shared some of our favorites for fall foliage viewing by train, but there are several options to view the rich reds, vibrant oranges and golden yellows by foot. Check out these State Parks that offer stunning scenery with varying levels of difficulty. Grab your favorite tennis shoes and hiking partner (or paw-tner), and enjoy the views and hues.
Vogel State Park: For a bit of a longer hike, the popular 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail at Vogel State Park makes a great day trip for hikers of any experience level. Enjoy the fall foliage and mountain color with a lake view at one of Georgia’s oldest and most beloved state parks. Vogel State Park is particularly busy during the fall when the Blue Ridge Mountains transform with a kaleidoscope of colors, so be prepared for crowds. You can get in with just a $5 Daily Park Pass, and for more information, visit gastateparks.org/vogel.
Cloudland Canyon: Grab your camera, your coziest sweater and your sense of wonder because Cloudland Canyon is like stepping into a real-life painting in the fall. Wander along trails adorned with the rich hues of fall, where every step is a brushstroke of beauty. Cloudland Canyon has hikes for every experience level, from easy-to-reach rim overlooks to challenging hiking trails. There are several waterfalls and even “glamping” yurts if you’re looking to extend your stay. Cloudland Canyon is one of the state’s largest and most scenic parks and is a must-add to your fall foliage adventure. Like Vogel, there is a $5 Daily Park Pass, and for more information, you can visit gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon.
Black Rock Mountain State Park: Georgia’s highest state park, Black Rock Mountain, offers sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains that are even more stunning when autumn arrives. There are hike options from easy lake loops and overlooks to moderate hikes to the all-day, challenging 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail. Regardless of the trail you choose, with every twist and turn, a breathtaking palette of reds, oranges and golds surround you. For more information, visit gastateparks.org/BlackRockMountain.
Whether you decide to experience Georgia’s fall foliage by train or by foot, don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness the state adorned with the rich hues of fall. Leaf your worries behind and get ready to fall in love with Georgia.