Autumn ambiance: 10 places to enjoy fall leaves in North Georgia

Early November color at Fort Mountain State Park’s lake in Murray County. Courtesy of Charles Seabrook.

Early November color at Fort Mountain State Park’s lake in Murray County. Courtesy of Charles Seabrook.

All it takes is one glance at the picturesque shades of red, yellow and orange leaves to tell its fall in Georgia. And most people will want more than just a glance.

Luckily, there are hundreds of spots across the state to watch leaves change color. Many of the best places to enjoy fall foliage are in metro Atlanta and North Georgia — even beyond.

Whether it’s a hike, a scenic drive or an adventure near the treetops, here are 10 great places to go sightseeing for natural fall colors.

Agnes Scott College

For those who want to enjoy fall leaves without trekking through a forest, Agnes Scott College in Decatur has you covered. The private women’s liberal arts college features an arboretum, essentially a tree tour. The heart of campus, nicknamed “the quad,” also has plenty of trees, whose fall colors complement the nearby study halls.

Blood Mountain

Boasting the tallest peak along the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, this mountain with an intimidating name offers some of the state’s most popular hiking trails. During autumn, Blood Mountain features thick foliage, which turns as red and bold as the mountain’s namesake.

On top of Blood Mountain in North Georgia on Oct. 20, 2007.

Credit: Laura Alderman

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Credit: Laura Alderman

The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway

You don’t have to get out of your car to enjoy some fall ambiance. The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway is a 23-mile stretch of road that begins near Helen and cuts through the Chattahoochee National Forest. Landscape views are bountiful.

Fall leaf color, from last year, along the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway (Ga. 348), which begins just outside Helen in White County. PHOTO CREDIT: Charles Seabrook

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F.D. Roosevelt State Park

Most people flock to the North Georgia mountains for spectacular scenery, but this state park southwest of Atlanta shouldn’t be ignored. Located on land previously owned by the 32nd president of the United States, F.D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain consists of lush forests that pop with color during the fall.

Hiking and backpacking at FDR Park

Credit: Photos courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

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Credit: Photos courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Fort Mountain State Park

While closer to Chattanooga than Atlanta, Fort Mountain State Park is easily worth the drive. Oak and pine trees cover much of the 3,712 acres of land within the park, and the different shades of fall colors are breathtaking. The park also features more than 25 miles of trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Fort Mountain State Park offers expansive views of Georgia's Appalachian mountains.

Credit: Eric Champlin

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Credit: Eric Champlin

Gibbs Gardens

One of the largest residential estate gardens in the country, Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground touts hundreds of plant and tree varieties, many of which turn spectacular shades. The property also features several ponds, bridge crossings and waterfalls, which only add to the beauty.

One of the nation's largest residential gardens, Gibbs Gardens, is in small-town Ball Ground.

Credit: Contributed by Gibbs Gardens

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Credit: Contributed by Gibbs Gardens

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

This national park within Cobb County is most well-known as the site of a Civil War battle, but its landscape no longer looks like a war-torn battlefield. Instead, colorful trees span thousands of acres, offering some of the best views of the season within metro Atlanta.

Now parking fees will need to be paid again at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. (Courtesy of National Park Service)

Credit: National Park Service

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Credit: National Park Service

Piedmont Park

If you’d rather not go outside the Perimeter for your fall views, one of Atlanta’s largest parks offers plenty. Located in Midtown, Piedmont Park will quickly transform into vivid shades of orange and red during the fall. The park also boasts a few ginkgo trees, which turn bright yellow during late October.

This is a gingko tree in Piedmont Park.

Credit: Piedmont Park Conservatory

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Credit: Piedmont Park Conservatory

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Located just west of Atlanta in Lithia Springs, Sweetwater Creek State Park features nine miles of hiking trails and a relaxing creek that leads to a small lake. Trees of all colors surround the flowing water, providing many of the best autumn views in the metro area.

Fall colors at Sweetwater Creek State Park, October 2007.

Credit: Lynn Mohamad

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Credit: Lynn Mohamad

Treetop Quest

With locations in Dunwoody and Buford, Treetop Quest offers a more action-packed way to enjoy nature. The adventure park includes several obstacle courses that are suspended within the trees, providing an up-close look at the changing leaves. If you want to experience a blur of fall color, the park has zip-lines too.

Whether you're going with friends or taking the kids, the Atlanta area has outdoor adventures you'll want to add to your calendar.

Credit: Courtesy of TreeTop Quest

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Credit: Courtesy of TreeTop Quest

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