A view from the dam at Unicoi Lake in White County on Nov. 8. (Jeff Samsel)
October has left us and with it the crowds of folks who visit from Atlanta and farther south to see red, orange and yellow mountains. Fortunately, autumn color doesn’t just go away because the calendar page turns. In truth, a good argument could be made that the first couple of weeks of November offer the prettiest color spectrum in North Georgia.
Even as November progresses and leaves continue falling, the mountains will take on a reddish, bronzy tone that provides a beautiful, distinctively fall look, and vistas will become more open. And with each weekend passed, you’ll find less company on trail and at overviews, even at very popular destinations like state parks and highly accessible waterfalls.
What all this means from a practical standpoint, quite simply, is that if you have flexibility in your weekend plans or, better yet, can scratch out a few weekday hours, you really should plan a little hike or at least a mountain drive to enjoy November’s color without October’s crowds.
Good day-plan options are pretty much countless in our area. Here are eight easy ones, all close to home and with good planning information that is readily available.
- Drive the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway
- Hike to Dukes Creek Falls (located off Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway)
- Hike the Hemlock Falls Trail along Moccasin Creek
- Visit Anna Ruby Falls
- Hike the North and South Rim trails or Hurricane Falls Loop at Tallulah Gorge State Park. (Will be more crowded than many places because of whitewater releases, but most people will crowd the lower overlooks.)
- Hike to Panther Creek Falls
- Drive along Wildcat Creek, stopping at pull-offs to enjoy the waterfalls
- Walk one of the trails or gated roads at the Lake Russell Recreation Area
Tallulah Gorge autumn whitewater releases will continue for the next two weekends. Lower gorge overviews in the state park will NOT be uncrowded, but if you don’t mind waiting your turn, watching tiny-looking boats navigate the gorge’s whitewater from way above is super cool. Beyond seeing the daredevil boaters, the entire gorge is extra spectacular with late-autumn foliage and heavy water flows.
For obvious safety reasons, hiking into the gorge is not permitted on release days. Remaining whitewater release dates are Nov. 10, 11, 17, 18