Cooler weather and changing leaf colors mark the beginning of fall. We welcome it with open arms because we are tired of this Georgia heat. There will be numerous amounts of people coming to the mountains for “leaf peeping” and hiking. We hope everyone will stop on by the store for a visit!
Why do leaves change?
In the spring and summer, plants are able to gather more sunlight for photosynthesis, which is the food making process. The chlorophyll in the leaves gives them their green color during this time. The other colors are present as well but the green takes over. In the fall, the days become shorter and it becomes cooler. This slows down and eventually stops the food making process. The chlorophyll breaks down and reveals the other colors such as yellow, red, and orange. There are many different kinds of trees and each one may show some colors more prominently than others. That is what makes the Appalachians so beautiful in the fall because the mountain range is very old and has many different types of trees and plants growing here.
“Leaf Peeping” and fall tourism
Many mountain towns rely on fall tourists to keep their businesses alive. Fall festivals occur every weekend in small North Georgia towns. They bring people together and have fun activities, music, and gifts for sale. The weather is perfect and of course, the leaves are changing. Jay Markwalter, the tourism director for the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce says, “Fall is our peak season, not only for colorful foliage, but for an influx of visitors. Visitors center numbers double, while retail merchants, accommodations and restaurants report that business triples in October.” Towns are catering to these “leaf peepers” with special deals, and even weekly updates on the changing leaf colors.
There are other activities associated with the fall season such as apple or pumpkin picking. These types of businesses are sometimes only open in the fall because this is when their produce is in season and no one wants to pick out a pumpkin in the middle of the summer. Driving has become a popular activity because you can see the changing leaves right from your window. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great example. It has stunning views throughout the Southern Appalachians and there are several towns along the way. Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains is another good road with great views. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, there are endless hiking trails throughout these regions.
Want to know more?
If the science of changing leaves interests you, or you would like to know more about identifying trees, we have this book, “Fall Color and Woodland Harvests” which has great pictures of trees in the fall and helps you identify them. If you’re looking for some good hiking, driving, or other activities this fall, check out http://www.georgiastateparks.org/leafwatch. There is a wealth of information for locals and tourists to come check out Georgia this fall. If you are looking for more to do in the Southeast, http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=286 has several other links to popular areas in the Southern Appalachian Mountains such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, North Carolina. Stop by Mountain Crossings and the staff will be more than happy to help you with your questions!