By Cory Sekine-Pettite
Some of us probably thought we’d never see cooler temperatures again, but as this issue of Cobb In Focus goes to print, we’re finally seeing cooler days and colder nights. This change in the weather means that our deciduous trees finally are getting the cue from Mother Nature that it’s time to start changing colors. If you’re curious about the science behind this phenomenon, Kennesaw State Assistant Professor of biology, Joel McNeal, explains that “chlorophyll, which reflects green light, breaks down in the leaves, allowing the carotenoid pigments — the yellows and oranges that were previously masked by the chlorophyll — to show through (wise-ly.com/2019/10/10/fall-colors).
As of mid-October, most of Georgia’s forests still are green, but perhaps by the time you read this, the wonderful colors of fall will have begun revealing themselves. Leaf peeping is one of my favorite outdoor activities during the autumn months. We are lucky in Georgia to have so many parks and protected forests from which we can witness this change of seasons. Often, I will combine a short leaf-peeping excursion in the North Georgia Mountains with a trip to Ellijay to pick some apples — another benefit of fall. If you would like to do the same, but want to make sure you’re actually going to see some colors, check with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR) before you leave home. The agency’s Leaf Watch website is updated daily with information on where to find the most colorful views.
Of course, if you would like to stay a little closer to home, but still see some beautiful trees, the Leaf Watch site clues in visitors to a few “Hidden Gems,” including Red Top Mountain State Park just across the Cobb line in Bartow County. As the GDNR says, the park offers more than 15 miles of trails, providing beautiful views of Lake Allatoona and the surrounding forest. The four-mile Iron Hill Trail is open to both hikers and bikers, and its wide path is fairly easy for smaller children. Be sure to check it out; you won’t be disappointed.