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Georgia offers plenty of places to see fall colors

Curt Yeomans

Curt Yeomans

We’re in the midst of seeing Georgia change colors.

Not in the political red state versus blue state, mind you. It’s changing in the natural sense. As in tree leaves. The kind that start out all one color in the spring and summer but eventually turn the landscape into something akin to a giant crayon box.

You see, Georgia was a green state. However, it’s now becoming a red state, a yellow state, an orange state and a brown state. And unlike the political arena, these colors can all live together in zen and harmony.

Respect Mother Nature, the original zen master.

So, that time of year has come when the air gets colder, the naturally-induced tan lines fade and the foliage decides to show just why it has inspired so many painters across the centuries.

Georgia is seeing the arrival of the fall colors, a time when its natural beauty is at its colorful best and outdoors enthusiasts flock to the countryside to see what the state has to offer this year.

And that brings us to the point of this week’s column: Where to go to get the best show.

There probably isn’t going to be any argument that the prime showcase is in North Georgia. The mountains are the best place to see the fall colors on trees because the canvas stretches out as far as the eye can see.

The question is where should you go in North Georgia to see this change. Blue Ridge, Ellijay and Jasper get lots of attention because of the rolling, tree-covered mountain tops lining up across the horizon. It doesn’t hurt that there are lots of places designated on the side of roadways where visitors can pull off and snap pictures of the landscape.

The views are quite nice, but are they the only good places to see the landscape? No. They may actually be trumped by locations farther to the east in Georgia.

The truth is there are lots of places in the mountains to see fall in all of its technicolor glory.

The Georgia Department of Tourism has a good listing of places around the state to see the fall colors change, under the “Back to Nature” section at www.exploregeorgia.org. Let’s pull out two of them and see why Northeast Georgia gives everyone else a run for their money.

We can’t get into too much detail because of space, but in the age of the Internet, isn’t it better to Google images of the parks and see them for yourself anyway?

Both of them happen to feature waterfalls that are a photographer’s delight.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge is one such place. At 729 feet in height, it is known as the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River, but there is more to this natural attraction than falling H2O.

It’s near the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail, so you’re in luck if you’re looking for a mountain hiking and camping excursion.

It also has scenic vistas which let you see what I consider the four essential colors of a changing fall: Yellow, red, burnt orange and green.

The added bonus is it’s only about an hour and a half away, so it’s not a long haul from the Southern Crescent. The address is 280 Amicalola Falls State Park Road in Dawsonville. Its website is www.gastateparks.org/AmicalolaFalls.

But, speaking of waterfalls, one can’t talk about scenic places to see fall in Georgia without mentioning Tallulah Falls and the gorge in which it is located.

Georgia is at its natural best in those places that are away from city life and largely undisturbed by man. Tallulah Falls is an example of what you could call postcard-quality natural beauty. Think of the gorge as a southeastern Grand Canyon — with trees. It’s two miles long and about 1,000 feet deep, according to state tourism advertisements.

There are trails for mountain bikers, paved paths for people with strollers or regular bicycles and, of course, hiking trails for mountain hikers.

Tallulah Gorge State Park’s address is 338 Jane Hurt Yam Drive in Tallulah Falls and it’s a little farther away, with the drive taking about two hours each way. Its website is www.georgiastateparks.org/TallulahGorge.