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Scenic Fall Drives II
Backroads
About North Georgia

Fall color in the mountains of north GeorgiaLeaf change brings thousands of people into the north Georgia mountains every year. In response to a number of inquiries, we have come up with our tips on observing the beauty of this yearly show of color and our favorite places to witness this splendid time of the year.

The optimum time to see the leaf change in the north Georgia mountains is normally the last full week in October. If you are going into the higher elevations, subtract a week. Closer to Atlanta? Try the first week in November. Since leaf change can vary it is best to check locally in the area you wish to visit prior to leaving. At the end of this article are a few phone numbers to call that can help you better plan the days to visit.

Don't try to see the leaf change by going well below the speed limit on a heavily-traveled road such as US Highway 76 or US Highway 129. This is as dangerous as speeding. Take a few minutes to study our five great autumn drives and pick one. Then drive to the start and follow these routes. Be sure to obey all speed limits where posted. You will have a lot more fun and be a lot less hazardous.

Gas up the car and clean your windows before the trip (Do we really need to tell you that?). These are remote locations and you may not find a gas station for miles.


Drive 1-Chattahoochee River Road

This drive, just over 14 miles long, takes you from south of Unicoi Gap back into the Mark Trail Wilderness and ends north of Helen, Georgia, where it feeds into Alt. 75. The road is unpaved for the first 11 miles and rarely permits speeds over 10 miles per hour, so this is one great way to see the fall color. And you end up at the alpine village of Helen, Georgia just in time for Oktoberfest. Take GA. 75 north from Helen. 2.75 miles past Andrews Campground (on the right), the Chattahoochee River Road comes off to the left. The color on this route tends to start a few days earlier than the rest of north Georgia. Area hiking trails include Andrews Cove Trail and Horse Trough Falls Trail. There is a campground at Horsetrough Falls and primitive camping is allowed along the road.

Tallulah River Road

Tate City Mall, Tate City, GAThis wide, 14.5 mile in and out route takes you from Persimmon Valley Road north to Tate City and the North Carolina border. Along the way are hiking trails, the Tate City Mall and some incredible beauty. When you return to Persimmon Valley Road, turn left and wander down to Patterson Gap. This road crosses the mountains and ends on U. S. 441 just north of the Dillard House. Take U. S. Highway 76 west from Clayton (Rabun County) for 8 miles to Persimmon Road. Turn right and travel four miles to Tallulah Road (F.S. 70) on left. Hiking trails include Denton Branch Trail and Coleman River Trail. There are two developed campgrounds run by the U.S. Forest Service along this route.


Cohutta Loop

This road varies from a narrow, one-lane road on the east side near the Tennessee-Georgia border to a wide, well-banked and graded gravel road to the west and south of the mountain range. This "half-loop" encircles the southern end of the Cohutta Mountains, which many mistakenly believe to be part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Technically, they are the southern end of the Smoky Mountains. This 16-mile trail is easily broken into sections and there are many hiking paths available. Lake Conesauga offers camping, hiking and fishing (no motor boats) in the remote forest. For complete details on directions please see the Cohutta Loop page. Trails available on this hike include Grassy Mountain Loop Trail and Songbird Trail (both near Lake Conesauga,

Pocket Road - Everett Springs Road - Floyd Springs Road.

North Georgia goldDon't let the name changes fool you. This is essentially a single road that runs from Villanow to U.S. 27 north of Rome, Georgia. This road was so remote that when General James Birdseye McPherson led the Army of the Tennessee through the area it was not on his maps. This drive (about 15 miles) takes you through the Armuchee District of the Chattahoochee National Forest. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the original campground at The Pocket as its home (Camp 3435, F-16, listed as LaFayette, Georgia) while it worked on replanting the mountains stripped bare by the lumber companies. At Lake Marvin the main road becomes Everett Springs Road and the Pocket Road descends from Horn Mountain. This winding, steep road is not recommended unless the driver pays attention to the road and not the leaf change. Continue south on Everett Springs to Floyd Springs Road. Floyd Springs Road crosses State Road 156, State Road 140, and the old Summerville Pike, where it becomes Depot Street for the final block before U. S. 27. Take I-75 to exit 320 (GA 136/LaFayette, Resaca, old exit #129). Go west on 136 to Pocket Road (19 miles). Turn left on Pocket Road. At the end of the drive turn left on U. S. Highway 27 (Martha Berry Highway) and drive south a few minutes to Oak Hill. To return to I-75, turn left at GA 140. This returns you to I-75 at exit 308 (old exit #128). Along the route are a number of good hiking trails including Keown Falls, Johns Mountain Trail, and The Pocket. Along GA 136 is the Pin-hoti Trail, which is a multi-use trail.

Forest Service Road 42

This gravel road runs from east of the tiny community of Roy through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest to the tiny community of Suches. In between are some great hikes including the begining (or end, depending on your viewpoint) of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and the Benton MacKaye Trail, and a day hike to the start of the AT at Springer Mountain. There are a number of organized camping shelters along the AT and primitive camping is permitted. As for picnics there are places to eat, but not much in the way of tables. We normally drive this route from west to east. To get there from Atlanta, take I-75 to exit 268, then 575 north to Ellijay (this becomes the Appalachian Development Highway, Route 515 at Tate). At State Road 52 turn right and go about 7 miles. Turn right on Roy Road and follow this 9.5 mile to a stop sign. Turn right. 2.1 miles on this road is the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. Turn right onto Forest Service Road 42. 13 miles later this road ends in downtown Suches. To return to civilization turn right and go 6 miles to Stonepile Gap. At the Gap go straight. This is Highway 19 and will return you to Georgia 400.

We hope you enjoy the show!


Roads of North Georgia
Highways and byways of North Georgia, both present-day and historic

Article Links
Andrews Cove Trail
Appalachian Trail in Georgia
Army of the Tennessee
Benton MacKaye Trail
Blue Ridge Mountains
Civilian Conservation Corps
Cohutta Loop
Coleman River Trail
Denton Branch Trail
Grassy Mountain Loop Trail
Helen, Georgia
Horse Trough Falls Trail
James Birdseye McPherson
Johns Mountain Trail
Keown Falls
Martha Berry
Oktoberfest
Songbird Trail
Springer Mountain
The Pocket

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