Best Places To See Autumn Leaves Near Atlanta

May 13, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

autumnleaves Best Places To See Autumn Leaves Near Atlanta

(credit: Thinkstock)

As fall progresses, the Atlanta metropolitan area is lush with forests that offer leaves rich in deep reds, golds, russets, purples and yellows. Atlanta residents and visitors have a number of choices to enjoy spectacular colors from mid to late October with minimal fuel or travel expense. One choice is a day drive throughout the north Fulton County area that will please any foliage-seeking fans and provide them ample opportunities to stretch their legs along paths that showcase nature’s display.

Getting There

Begin the foliage adventure in the morning by traveling to Fulton County, a trip that takes approximately 20 minutes from downtown Atlanta. Start out going north on GA-400 from I-285 and then take the 5B exit to Sandy Springs. Go west for 1.3 miles on Abernathy Road to Roswell Road. Turn right onto Roswell Road and go north 2.1 miles to the Big Trees Forest Preserve on the right. If traveling south on the I-400, take exit 5 and go right (west) onto Abernathy Road for 1.3 miles, then turn right again on Roswell Road. Travel north 2.1 miles and Big Trees Forest Preserve will be on your right. The forest is located right next to the North Fulton County Government Center Building.

What To See

Big Trees Forest Preserve
7645 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs, GA 30350
(770) 673-0111

The Big Trees Forest Preserve is a 30-acre tree, plant and wildlife sanctuary with recreational walks along 1.5 miles of trails. Explore its gentle hills, two creeks, dense canopies and white oak trees, aged 100 to 200 years old. Parking is free.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Charleston, SC

Roswell Historic Mill and Covered Bridge/Vickery Creek Trail
85 Mill St.
Roswell, GA 30075

The Roswell Historic Mill was rebuilt after the war and was then destroyed by fire once again. The existing structure at the entrance to the ruins of the original mill manufacturing facility was rebuilt to historic proportions shortly thereafter. Grab your camera and set off on foot from the restaurant parking lot down the steep hill on Mill Road approximately 0.1 miles to the mill and covered bridge. At the mill parking lot, enter through the arch to the viewing platform overlooking the creek foliage and the covered bridge. To the left, follow the upper creek trail for a few hundred yards and see the stunning waterfall as it tumbles into the creek. Hiking trails along both sides of the creek offer gorgeous foliage, viewing platforms and picture-perfect moments.

Roswell Historic Town Square
Roswell Visitors Bureau
617 Atlanta St.
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 640-3253

The Roswell Visitors Bureau sits next door to The Public House and is the information gateway to the Historic District of Roswell. Directly across Atlanta Street from the Visitors Bureau is Roswell’s original Town Square with its lush trees, Founders’ Fountain and gazebo. Directly to the left of the Town Square sits the beautiful estate of Barrington Hall, one of the city’s most famous historic residences, with foliage providing a canopy over the entire lawn and gravel entrance to the grand home. Use the crosswalk on GA-120 to climb the steps to the estate.

Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Pensacola, FL

Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC)
9135 Willeo Road
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 992-2055

Once you’ve explored the historic Roswell Mill, Town Square and Barrington Hall, more dense, lush foliage awaits you on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Exit the parking lot at either the restaurant or mill on Mill Street and go left on Atlanta Street. Travel back down the hill to the intersection at Azalea Steet, right before the bridge, and turn right. You’ll enjoy the winding verdant road that follows the riverbank for 1.9 miles to the traffic signal at Willeo Road. Turn left, drive 0.6 miles and then turn right again into the Nature Center. There are marked trails to enjoy exploration of the river’s ecosystem, and if you are ready for some power walking, the riverside paved path is bustling with exercisers.

Where To Grab A Bite

Gluten Free Cutie
45 Park Square Court
Roswell, GA 30075
(770) 518-7858

This cozy, bright bakery at the historic Roswell Town Square sits directly across the street from The Public House. It was started by a young couple who had a daughter diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. After conjuring up recipes night and day to meet her dietary needs, a bakery concept was born. The two young proprietors create and sell the best gluten-free goodies around. You’ll find the perfect snack with cupcakes, cake pops and fresh coffee after exploring nature at the mill.

Di Chapman has been writing professionally for trade journals, audiobooks and a global business clientele since her early 20s. A coauthor of four books and a regular contributor to numerous blogs, she currently lives in the historic district of Roswell, Georgia, in the greater Atlanta area. Her work can be found at