We've Scouted 5 Northwest Georgia Autumn Hikes That Guarantee Amazing Foliage, Bright Colors and Unforgettable Pictures


We love hiking in all seasons. And whenever we hike, we have a camera or phone along, always taking lots of scenic photos of the landscape and surroundings. So now that fall is approaching, we're mapping out some nearby Northwest Georgia hikes where we know fall colors will be plentiful, and where we can compare the colors to other seasons in our photos.

Our top pick: Cloudland Canyon State Park, where a short walk from the parking lots delivers this canyon overview.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Here are five hiking spots where we know the landscape, terrain and trees likely will deliver both fun hiking experiences and some awesome shots of colorful foliage:

Cloudland Canyon State Park. Fall colors don't get easier or more plentiful than this. Just park at the canyon overlook lot, walk 100 yards and peer into a beautiful fall palette of green, yellow, orange and red on the opposite canyon wall. But wait, it gets even better if you take an easy walk along the overview trail for an ever-changing array of colorful foliage throughout the canyon along the one-mile round trip. But wait, there's more! For the determined and fit, take those infamous Georgia State Park steps down on the waterfalls trail and capture great memories and photos at Cherokee Falls, Hemlock Falls, and into Sitton's Gulch. Just remember as you walk along that you'll have to climb up those steps to return. The combination of the canyon overlooks and foliage-framed waterfalls makes this our top spot for fall photos, and explains why it ranks nationally as one of Georgia's best state parks.

The waterfall trail delivers stunning fall photo opportunities, with or without falls.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Red Top Mountain State Park. The Iron Hill trails twists and turns along the lakeshore, offering great lake views from secluded coves. Those still waters are great for reflection shots and some excellent panoramas, too. Where the trail ducks into the woods, we often capture unexpected ground level shots of colorful mushrooms and leaves matting the forest floor. We also enjoy the scenic mountainside and bridge views from near the beach and picnic shelter seven, located on a small peninsula. Or head up to the marina area to capture cross-lake shots of Pine Mountain and Vineyard Mountain, where the Allatoona Dam spans the 1,270 gap to create Lake Allatoona. You can't beat Red Top Mountain for shots from the lake, so bring a kayak or rent a boat for some unique perspectives. Also, check out our story on the best dam views nearby.

On a peninsula near the beach, you can capture colorful mountainsides framing the steel girder bridge.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Pine Log Creek. When you visit the small hidden quarry and see the trees reflecting from the surrounding mountainside, you'll understand our recommendation. We've visited here on multiple occasions, and rarely have seen other people at the quarry or along the way. We also enjoy stops along the creek for shots up and down the waterway, where we can get overhanging trees reflecting into the shallow water.

The still waters of the hidden quarry at Pine Log Creek reflect the colorful splendor of the hillsides.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

Amicalola Falls State Park. Just seeing the tallest falls in Georgia tumble more than 700 feet is worth the trip. Add the changing fall foliage, then consider the various vantage points, and it's easy to understand why this ranks so highly. Taking the West Trail to the mid-falls bridge overlook always guarantees great shots. But we always start at the base, where anglers often surround a small pond which is great for reflections. And we never miss a stop at the lodge, where a walk out on the rear balcony offers a stunning panoramic overview of the large valley. You also can get valley shots from the top of the falls, though the field of view is a bit more limited. We did a short video of the falls in all four seasons.

The 700-foot waterfall always guarantees great fall colors, but don't miss the valley views.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

East Palisades. The parking lot and trails can be crowded. But you can't beat the water-level elevations along the river for stunning fall shots. The water rushing through the large rocks offer excellent long-exposure opportunities. And we've never failed to see a few colorful mallard ducks.

In addition to beautiful river landscapes, we never fail to see colorful mallard ducks within easy photo range at Pallisades.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

And One More

Lula Falls Preserve. Yes, we promised five, but our Louisiana heritage requires us to provide some "lagniappe," a little extra. Scenes around the falls are the most frequently-captured here. But we enjoy walking the Middle Trail, Bluff Trail and High Adventure trails first for some great photos. The downside: Lula Falls has limited opening days, and a reservation is required. You can get all the details at our blog.

We can't wait to return in fall to recreate this shot with changing colors.Photo: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe

More from DeanLand

If you enjoyed this article, see others on similar topics by DeanLand. Simply use the "follow" button, located before and after this article on your phone, or on the left side menu on your computer. And see these recent posts by DeanLand on Newsbreak:

The View from Panoramic Pine Mountain

Georgia Hummingbird Migration Underway

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I'm a trained journalist, global traveler and retired business executive who worked for more than 20 years with some of the world's best and largest restaurant enterprises. I left the business world behind, living in Northwest Georgia and writing about avocations including outdoor excursions, family-friendly travel, road trips, exploration ideas for active seniors and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries, and I'm still counting up. I'm a traveler, hiker, cyclist, blogger, marketing consultant, community volunteer and local high school band nerd who previously has lived in Florida, Ohio, Indiana and Mississippi. I'm a South Louisiana-born French Cajun whose great-grandparents were sugar farmers, bar owners and reputed bootleggers. My upbringing in food-rich Louisiana and my restaurant industry career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. That also inspired the name of my blog, OurTravelCafe.com. There, I offer up a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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