WNC / Northeast Georgia Fall Leave Colors

Your guide to find the best in fall leaf color, avoiding  traffic, find festivals and family fun!
We have festivals posted for Western North Carolina and Northeast Georgia!

Be sure to scroll down to see several area web cams and follow the color changes to plan your trip!

Why do leaves change colors?

Why Do Autumn Leaves Change Color? 

You may learn something here! Scientific American editor Mark Fischetti explains how the leaves of deciduous trees perform their annual chameleon act, changing from various shades of green to hues of bronze, orange and brilliant red.

2023 Fall Colors Reports

Nov 4, 2023 - Final Report
I just retraced my steps from Northeast Georgia (NoEGa) to Sapphire Valley Resort and back yesterday. My route took me to elevations as low as 850’ to as high as 4000’.

The leaves are best between 1500’ and 2500’, although all elevations are now beyond peak.

The colors in most NoEGa areas suffered from dry weather in the early fall and thus are very muted. The areas of The High South in WNC were much bolder above 2500’ in the last 10 days or so of October. Some of these areas in WNC get more rain that the Pacific Northwest! 

There are some areas in NoEGa of maples that provided good yellow and reds and work the drive around the hills to experience them.

I hope these reports provided some value-added information to assist you in planning your leaf excursion to The High South. We will be updating our Winter Family Fun Guide soon!
See [Peak Colors by Elevation

Fall Leaf Color Guide

Oct 28, 2023
We were able to check out fall colors from our Chestatee facility at 1200' up to our base in Sapphire Valley at 3200'. The colors have definitely peaked at 3000' and above and a sea of colors is moving down the mountains!

There are still wonderful pockets of color above 3000' like the maples shown here.  Ornamental maples are just stunning. A deep red/purple color. 

With a change in weather coming in a few days bringing wind, rain and much colder temperatures, the autumn leaf colors season may come to a quick end for some areas.  Stay tuned! 
This image: Beautiful maples frame the corner of Sapphire Valley Resorts' pickleball courts. This image was taken Oct 27, 2023.

Sapphire Valley Resort Fall Images

Oct 19, 2023
Colors around 3200’ – 4000’ are peaking now and should look good over the next several days and this weekend. This includes the Highlands – Cashiers NC corridor. Leaves are past peak at the higher elevations. With cooler temperatures and less daylight peak colors will move down to the 2000’. The weekend of Oct 27-28 could be the best time to check out colors in this area.

It does appear the drier weather we had a few weeks ago has slightly muted the overall color depth. The colors are still very nice,

There are some species already showing good color at much lower elevations.  The image here is from an elevation of 1400’ and is a beautiful beech tree in a sea of green.

See [Peak Colors by Elevation

1400' fall leaf colors

The region owes its extended autumnal glory to the diverse range of elevations it encompasses. The mesmerizing cascade of Fall colors commences at the highest peaks in early October, painting the landscape with an array of fiery hues. As the days progress, the stunning spectacle gradually descends to lower elevations, creating an awe-inspiring journey of changing colors that extends well into early November. With such a prolonged and captivating show, it's no wonder that tens of thousands of people are drawn to experience the magic of Fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains each year.

Tips to enjoy Fall Leave Colors:

Tips to enjoy Fall Leave Colors:

1. Travel during the week if you can
2. Pack water, snacks and patience
3. Book a vacation rental NOW
[Find a vacation rentals here]
4. Call ahead for dining reservations or info
[Top Restaurants around The High South]
5. If this a day trip only, have a full tank of gas before you head up!

Fall Colors Guide

Western North Carolina Leaf Color Information

Video by Explore Asheville Conventions and Visitors Bureau

2023 Western North Carolina
Fall Leaf Color Map and Events

Fall Color Map for North Carolina
 created by The Biology Department at  Appalachian State University is a great resource to plan your trip. Please visit their web site  for the full image and to learn more about this map!
Go to: [https://biology.appstate.edu/fall-colors/fall-color-map-north-carolina]

wnc fall leave colors

2023 Western North Carolina Fall Leaf Color Events

  1. Sapphire Valley Arts and Crafts Festival - Sept 30 - Oct 1 2023
    Open 10AM - 4PM Saturday and Sunday [More About Sapphire Valley]
  2. Dillsboro ColorFest and Downtown Harvest  Saturday, Oct 7,2023   10 am - 4 pm
    This unique historic town welcomes over 40 local demonstrating artists who will line Front Street with colorful art and demonstrate their work. Meet and talk with local artists, all the while surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the mountains.
    Main Street in Dillsboro, NC. [About Dillsboro]
  3. Cashiers Leaf Festival - October 6 - 8, 2022
    The Cashiers NC Leaf Festival 2022 !  10AM - 5PM each day [More Info]
  4. Goblins In the Green - Cashiers  Saturday, October 28, 2022 5:30PM
     A frightfully fun family-friendly Halloween event! Enjoy delicious culinary delights from the food truck, plus lots of fun and games, and tricks and treats! Be sure to dress up in your most creative costume. Prizes will be awarded for the best boy, girl, and human/canine duo.  Location: The Village Green Commons  [More Info]
  5. Shadow of the Bear - October 15 - November 5, 2022
    A High South area fall (and winter) treat is the annual ‘shadow of the bear’! This phenomenon takes place near Whiteside Mountain where the autumn light creates a shadow shaped like a bear. Times: at sunset each day [More Info]
  6. Weekly concerts along with area famers markets continue until the end of October. 
    View the [Area Events Calendar] for more info!

2023 Western North Carolina Fall Leaf Color
Road Conditions (Georgia conditions below!)

Road Conditions
The North Carolina Department of Transportation maintains a great map of North Carolina showing construction zones, road closures due to weather as well as traffic congestion.
[NCDOT Traffic Map
Northeast Georgia Map below!

wnc fall color leave guide

2023 Fall Leaf Colors
by Elevation

Above 4000' - October 15-22

Towns at this elevation: Sugar Mountain, Beech Mountain, Grandfather Mountain and some areas around Highlands in North Carolina and the peak of Brasstown Bald in North Georgia

3000-4000' - October 22-29

Towns at this elevation: Sapphire Valley, Highlands, The Highlands Outpost, and Cashiers in North Carolina. Sky Valley in Northeast Georgia

2000-3000' - October 29 - November 5

Towns at this elevation: Waynesville, Dillsboro North Carolina, Several Northeast Georgia towns are very close to 2000' including Blue Ridge, Hiawassee, Blairsville and Tallulah Falls.

Below 2000' - November 5 - mid-November

Towns at this elevation: While many species of tree will change before November, the bulk of color below 2000' will occur throughout the month. Bryson City, NC sits at 1752' with higher peaks all around. Dahlonega Georgia sits at 1450' while Helen Ga sits at 1444'

These are estimates! Like trying to pick the bottom or top of a stock market move, the best approach is to allow several days to travel around and enjoy the colors at various elevations - try not to time it to just one day!

Northeast Georgia Fall Leaf Color Information

2023 Northeast Georgia Fall Leaf Color Events

  1. Grape Stomp Festival (Blairsville, September 3)
    Join us for a day full of fun and laughter as we celebrate our annual Grape Stomp Fest! We will have live music all day, local vendors, a kids tent, and our Lucy-look-a-like contest. Paradise Hills Winery Resort & Spa
  2. Oktoberfest (Helen, September 7 – October 29)
    More about Helen GA [[Go Here]
  3. Chattahoochee Mountain Fair (Clarkesville, September 8-16)
    The Chattahoochee Mountain Fair has been a tradition in Northeast Georgia since 1975. Spend a special week back in the good old days of home made treats, hand made crafts, a farm animal petting zoo and carnival rides galore! [More Info]
  4. Blue Ridge Blues & Barbeque Festival (Blue Ridge, September 14-16)
    Always a fantastic event. Downtown Blue Ridge sets the stage as a fantastic back drop and venue location for a perfect early fall event. The leaves start to change with cooler days and crisp evenings that invite outdoor activities! The sounds of Blues music and the sweet smell of BBQ from local and regional cookers will fill the air as families and groups of friends enjoy this unique setting and event.[More Info]
  5. American Made Music Fest (Hiawassee GA, September 14-16)
    Dailey & Vincent's American Made Music Fest, presented by Springer Mountain Farms, is a 3-day festival bringing together the very best in American music - Country, Bluegrass and Gospel music! [More Info]
  6. Foxfire Mountaineer Festival (Clayton, October 7)
    We are thrilled to announce the return of the annual Foxfire Mountaineer Festival! Join us for a day of arts, crafts, music, and more, all in celebration of our Appalachian culture! [More infoThe Festival will be held at the Rabun County Civic Center on Saturday, October 1st from 10 am until 5 pm. Tickets are $8, kids 5 & under are free! With a festival wristband, you’ll also receive 30% off admission to the Foxfire Museum at 98 Foxfire Lane, Mountain City, Georgia.      
  7. Georgia Mountain Fall Festival (Hiawassee, October 6-14)
    Look forward to the 2022 Fall Festival October 7th - 15th from 10am-7pm. With its mild temperatures and beautiful scenery there is no better place to be than the North Georgia Mountains in the fall! Each October, the 9-day event features Arts & Craft vendors, educational demonstrations, and exciting music performances! New for 2022 enjoy carnival rides from Midway Rides Unlimited! Enjoy over a dozen rides including a carosel, ferris wheel, bumper cars & more! Rides for the adults & the kiddos! Plus fair food, games, and more! [More Info]
  8. Fall Arts in The Park (Blue Ridge, October 14-16)
    Join us for the 12th Annual Fall Arts in the Park festival held in the beautiful Downtown City Park of Blue Ridge, Georgia. You and your family can shop from over 150 juried fine arts and fine crafts exhibitors, enjoy tasty food, engage in artist demos and enjoy our free children’s activity booth. Leashed pets are welcomed. Festival is held rain or shine. Weekend Admission: adults $5; children under 12 free. All proceeds benefit the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association, a 501c3 non-profit community arts association.  [Learn More]
  9. Blairsville Sorghum Festival (Blairsville, October 7-8, 14-15)
    We are back and looking forward to the 53rd Annual Blairsville Sorghum Festival and some great sorghum syrup! This year’s festival will be hosted by the Blairsville Sorghum Syrup Makers and Enotah CASA, Inc again. We are looking forward to keeping traditions alive and creating a memorable experience for all patrons of the festival.  [More Info]
  10. Gold Rush Days (Dahlonega, October 21-22)
    Gold Rush Days are always held the third full weekend in October. It is a time for thousands to come and see fall colors peaking and celebrate Dahlonega’s 1828 discovery of gold. Over 200 art and craft exhibitors and food vendors gather around the Public Square and Historic District in support of this annual event. It is estimated that a crowd of over 200,000 visits over the weekend to join in the fun and excitement! [More Info]
  11. Mountain Moonshine Festival and Car Show (Dawsonville, October 27-29)
    Admission: Free Admission~Parking Fee 
    THE 55TH ANNUAL MOUNTAIN MOONSHINE FESTIVAL IS A GO! [More Info] Festival will take place at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and Dawsonville City Hall's Main Street Park.
  12. Appalachian Brew, Stew, & Que Festival (Hiawassee, October 21)
    The Appalachian Brew, Stew, & Que Festival brings you great craft breweries from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina & Alabama. There will also be delicious food from area restaurants, regional arts & crafts, and lots of Appalachian & Americana music! [More Info]

Road Conditions
The Georgia Department of Transportation maintains a great map of North Georgia with a trip planner and shows construction zones, road closures due to weather as well as traffic congestion.
[GADOT Traffic Map

wnc fall color leave guide

Area Web Cams
View the Autumn Color Changes with these area web cams!

Brasstown Bald Web Cam
Elevation: 4784'
The highest point in Georgia!!!

This camera is looking north from Brasstown Bald over the Brasstown Wilderness area toward Hiawassee Georgia and just beyond into North Carolina 

Be sure to hover your mouse over the camera feed for the full screen option in the lower right!

Camera courtesy and please visit:

Bryson City, NC
Downtown Bryson City
Elevation: 1752′

Bryson City, NC is a great small town located on the Tuckaseegee River and bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Camera courtesy and please visit: 
Content/Camera: ExploreBrysonCity.com/ResortCams.com

Highlands, NC
Elevation: 4117"

Highlands, NC is one the highest towns in terms of elevation in this part of Western North Carolina.  
Camera courtesy: The Town of Highlands
Visit: https://highlandsnc.org/

Whiteside Mountain
viewed from
Big Bear Pen Mountain
Elevation: 4930"

This is a great view of Whiteside Mountain. Easy access to a great hike with big views is available just off Highway 64 between Highlands and Cashiers, NC.
Hiking Info: [Hiking Whiteside Mountain]

Camera courtesy: The Town of Highlands
Visit: https://highlandsnc.org/

More Web Cams:  We have several more webcams on this site - go here: [Area Web Cams

2023 Fall Leaf Color Reports

Oct 10, 2023
It looks like our peak colors will be delayed a few days. It’s hard to get a forecast down to less than a week but we try! The dry weather has complicated the forecast as some trees down to 1200’ elevation are changing early and others are still quite green.

In our opinion, this will be a prolonged leaf color season as the combination of dry weather and delayed colder weather. A longer season is just fine as we all love to have more time to enjoy nature’s canvas.  

This image from the Grandfather Mountain Black Rock Trail  area in North Carolina shows good color at an elevation of 4722'.

Grandfather Mountain Black Rock Trail

10/3/2023 Update:

Given the ongoing dry and warmer weather conditions prevalent in The High South region, some leaves may experience an earlier transformation. Dryness stands as one of the contributing factors inducing end-of-season stress, which in turn initiates the change in color. While our peak colors by elevation, as indicated below, remain as expected, it's worth noting that we may not witness the same vibrant reds and yellows as we did last year. Nevertheless, it's essential to remember that, regardless of the weather, the beauty of the colors always makes the trip worthwhile.

9/19/2023 Update:

Temps dipped into the mid-40s last night setting the stage for great red colors to start showing. It will take another week for colors to really start to show as leaves need more shade and longer nights to get the season really in high gear. The shadows are here with the sun lower in the sky and this Saturday is the Fall Equinox which means the length of day and night is equal. After this weekend, we will have less daylight.

Bottom Line: Our peak color dates by elevation are on target!

Scroll down for our projected 2023 Fall Leaf Color by Elevation

Quick 9/12/2023 Update:

With cooler days and notably cooler nights the promise timely autumn foliage is on track. Domestic / farm raised trees are already showing color changes. Recent rains should help us avoid any drought conditions.

Bottom Line: Autumn is the clock and on time!

Labor Day Autumn Foliage Report:

Even on Labor Day, we're already noticing early hints of autumn colors, especially among some maples and dogwoods. The current weather conditions are favorable for vibrant foliage, but the forecast predicts above-average temperatures for the next few weeks, accompanied by a potential increase in rainfall. This combination might result in a delay and slightly muted autumn colors. As we know, it's the cooler weather that truly enhances the depth of these colors.

Our projected timeframes for the peak foliage at different elevations in The High South region remain unchanged and on schedule.

Stay tuned for more updates as we transition into the fall season!

August 6, 2023: Now less than 8 weeks from the 2023 Fall Color season in The High South, what can we expect?

Every year, an abundance of nature enthusiasts flock to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Georgia, allured by the breathtaking Fall foliage and vibrant colors. Renowned for one of the most splendid and prolonged leaf seasons on the planet, the Blue Ridge Mountains put on a dazzling display for visitors.

2022 Fall Leaf Colors Reports

Final Update to the Final Update!!!! Oct 29, 2022

Great fall colors were hanging on for a few more days at 3200'. With rain moving in Oct 30, autumn colors will be done at and above this elevation.  Lower elevations will continue to have a range of colors for a few more days. 

Fall Leaf Guide

2022 Previous Updates

Oct 23 2022
Final Color Update

The autumn color leaf season is winding down! Elevations above 3000’ had one of the best seasons in years. Elevations below that were good, but not as brilliant as higher areas. The reason for both: temperatures! All elevations had dry weather with lots of sunshine. Everyday we did have less daylight which is the trigger for autumn colors, but the higher elevations had many nights in the low 30s, even in the upper 20’s which is the trigger for intense color!

Areas below 3000’ will have autumn colors changing for another week to 10 days but without that really cold weather the colors will be muted!

We hope you have enjoyed and/or found these reports useful – see you in the Autumn of 2023!

October 16 Update
Peak colors at elevations above 4500' have peaked are beginning to fade!

Strong and gusty winds may hit the area Monday and Tuesday as cold weather arrives. This could greatly impact the leaf season in areas where there is peak color. In other words, the wind could blow the leaves right off the trees!

Elevations from 3000' up to 4500' are peak now and for the next several days!
Due to dry weather in some areas we will see trees change a very different times.

Temps in the 30's down to 1200' will enhance the colors but they may change quickly.
Several species, particularly maples are looking good down to 1200'

We updated the peak colors by elevations timeframe below.

October 10, 2022 Update
Crisp, cool weather with plenty of sun has accelerated the leaf changes just over the past few days! Colors look great at higher elevations and this week should be peak up there. Many other species of trees at all levels have reacted to the cool, sunny weather! Be sure to check out the web cams below!

October 6, 2022 Update

It looks like the heavy cloud cover from Hurricane last week delayed the leaf color changes by about 7 - 10 days. This is mainly the case in far Northeast Georgia and Western North Carolina. With sunny, dry, and colder temperatures over the past week you begin to see the changes take place.
We updated the date ranges on our Leaf Color Change by Elevation below to accommodate this information.

Update for Oct 1, 2022

Above 4500’ the colors on some species look great while others need another week or week and a half to have the best color. Some maples are displaying brilliant yellows and reds.

We observed colors just below 4000’ were still very green which is a good thing. Green leaves are still strong and will be less impacted by the remnants of Hurricane Ian.

The High South team took a trip up through Blue Ridge Georgia this week then over to Blairsville, Dahlonega and back to Chestatee. These towns are all between 1200’ and 2000’. The change from a dark green to a pale green was noticeable.

We also hiked in a new Nature Park just outside Blue Ridge, Fightingtown Creek Nature Park, a great new hiking and mountain bike park [see our review] and got up to 2200’. Areas at this elevation are probably a month away from peak.

Keep in mind that species will react differently to the fall change in daylight and temperatures and as we have seen before, we could see a prolonged leaf season – which is all good!

Sept 8, 2022
 We are a bit surprised to see some species of trees already changing and in a few cases, fully displaying great fall colors at 3200' elevation. Most trees at higher elevations are beginning to loose that dark green color - showing various shades of yellow and red.
Please scroll down for our estimated peak color times based on elevation.

September 26, 2022, Fall Leaf Color Update

Seasonal dry and cooler weather will help intensify the colors of autumn! Temps have dropped to the upper 30's and lower 40's in areas above 3200'. This is good news.

It looks like we are on target, give or take a few days, to peak colors based on elevation as shown lower on this page.

The impact of Hurricane Ian will be determined later this week should it hold together and move up into the Appalachia area of The High South! 

Update for Sept 12, 2012:
With plenty of rain this past week or so, lack of moisture will not be a problem for the trees and color changes. At this point the deciding factor will be temperatures which are expected to be above normal and that will delay the change by up to a week. Time will tell – stay tuned!

September 19, 2022, Fall Leaf Color Update
Next Update: Sept 26, 2022
Dry weather this past week will influence fall color changes and speed. A very wet week was followed by a very dry one and with rising temperatures in lower areas. Temps in the higher elevations are in the 40’s at night and that has color changes above 4500’ are now very evident.
Our forecast for color changes by elevation show below is on target.
The official start of Autumn is September 22 when the length of day and night are the equal.

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MyCashiersNC.com - all about Cashiers, NC

All information believed accurate but not guaranteed. The High South Media Network covers news, events, vacation rentals and recreational opportunities all around the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.