Georgia State Parks “Leaf Watch” Tracks Fall Color

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Georgia State Parks “Leaf Watch” Website Tracks Best Fall Color

Travel Tips for Leaf Peepers

Every October, Georgia’s mountains turn to a vibrant blanket of red and gold as the leaves begin to change. To help “leaf peepers” find the best spots for fall color, Georgia’s State Parks will offer an online Leaf Watch travel planner in October and November, found at

Leaf Watch is filled with top trails and overlooks, mountain cabins and campsites, fall events and hiking tips.  Shutterbugs are encouraged to share their favorite shots on the Georgia State Parks Facebook page and Instagram, tagging #GaLeafWatch and #GaStateParks. Rangers will post updates on how fall color is progressing in their parks.

Some of Georgia’s top state parks for leaf watching include those in the mountains, such as Amicalola Falls, Black Rock Mountain, Cloudland Canyon, Fort Mountain, Smithgall Woods, Tallulah Gorge, Unicoi and Vogel. While F.D. Roosevelt is south of Atlanta, its higher elevation means autumn colors are often vibrant. For late-season getaways, visitors may want to explore parks further south, such as George L. Smith. The southern Georgia parks can offer pretty color after the last mountain leaves have fallen.

Georgia State Parks offer a variety of accommodations where leaf peepers can stay in the heart of autumn scenery. Guests can choose from cabins, campsites and yurts – a “glamping” option that is like a combination tent-cabin.  Accommodations may be reserved 13 months in advance, and many fill up on October weekends. Guests are encouraged to make plans as early as possible or visit during weekdays.  Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-864-7275 or at

Park rangers have planned numerous events throughout October, including guided hikes and paddles, fall festivals, and Halloween hayrides and campground trick-or-treating. A list of events can be found at


Ten Top Georgia State Parks for Fall Color

Amicalola Falls State Park – Dawsonville

Just an hour north of Atlanta you’ll find the Southeast’s tallest cascading waterfall.  A short, flat path leads to a boardwalk offering the most spectacular views.  There’s also an easy-to-reach overlook at the top.  For a tougher challenge, start from the bottom of the falls and hike up the steep staircase.

Black Rock Mountain State Park – Clayton

At an altitude of 3,640 feet, Black Rock Mountain is Georgia’s highest state park.  (Brasstown Bald is the state’s highest peak.) Roadside overlooks and the summit Visitor Center offer sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The 2.2-mile Tennessee Rock Trail is a good choice for a short, moderate hike.  For an all-day challenge, take the 7.2-mile James E. Edmonds Backcountry Trail.

Cloudland Canyon State Park – Near Chattanooga

One of Georgia’s most beautiful parks offers easy-to-reach rim overlooks and challenging trails.  A favorite hike takes you down a long, steep staircase to the bottom of the canyon, where you’ll find two waterfalls.  (Remember, you have to hike back up, but it’s worth it.)  The 5-mile West Rim Loop is moderately difficult and offers great views of the canyon.

F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain

Many people are surprised to find hardwood forests and rolling mountains south of Atlanta.  The 6.7-mile Wolf Den Loop is a favorite section of the longer Pine Mountain Trail.  For a touch of history, drive to Dowdell’s Knob to see a life-size bronze sculpture of President F.D. Roosevelt and views of the forested valley.  Ga. Hwy. 190 is a pretty driving route.

Fort Mountain State Park – Chatsworth

This park is best known for a mysterious rock wall along the mountain top, plus a variety of trails. For the easiest walk, take the 1.2-mile loop around the park’s green lake.  For a challenging, all-day hike, choose the 8-mile Gahuti Trail.  Mountain bikers have more than 14 miles to explore.  Hwy. 52 has beautiful mountain scenery and overlooks worth stopping to see.

Moccasin Creek State Park – Lake Burton

Georgia’s smallest state park sits on the shore of a gorgeous deep-green lake.  Guests can choose from the 2-mile Hemlock Falls Trail or 1-mile Non-Game Trail with a wildlife observation tower.  Hwy. 197 is a particularly pretty road, passing Mark of the Potter and other popular attractions.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen

Protecting more than 6,000 acres around Dukes Creek, this is the perfect spot for fly fishing while enjoying fall color.  Day visitors can picnic near the creek, and overnight guests can hike a private trail to Dukes Creek Falls.  A 1.6-mile loop climbs to Laurel Ridge and provides a view of Mt. Yonah once most leaves are off the trees.  Smithgall Woods has some of the park system’s most sought-after cabins and is near wineries and Helen’s Oktoberfest.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Near Clayton

Tallulah is one of the most spectacular canyons in the Southeast, and you can choose from easy or difficult trails.  Hike along the rim to several overlooks with waterfall views, or get a permit from the park office to trek all the way to the bottom.  During November, you can watch expert kayakers as they enjoy the bi-annual “whitewater releases.”  Be sure to see the park’s film because it includes heart-racing footage of kayakers and news clips from Karl Wallenda’s famous tightrope walk across the gorge.

Unicoi State Park – Helen

New ziplines take you high above the forest canopy for a unique view of leaves. If you’re up for a steep hike, take the 4.8-mile Smith Creek Trail up to Anna Ruby Falls. Unicoi offers a lodge and restaurant.

Vogel State Park – Blairsville

The 4-mile Bear Hair Gap Trail makes a nice day trip for experienced hikers, offering great mountain color and a birds-eye view of the park’s lake.  For an easier walk, follow the Lake Loop to a small waterfall.  The twisting roads around Vogel, particularly Wolf Pen Gap Road, offer some of north Georgia’s prettiest fall scenery.

Night Museum National Prisoner of War Museum – (Andersonville, Ga)

Night Museum National Prisoner of War Museum – (Andersonville, Ga)

When: Saturday, January 25, 2015

Time: 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. ET

Location:  Andersonville National Historic Site
496 Cemetery Road
Andersonville, GA 31711

Experience the National Prisoner of War Museum and the historic prison site after dark in our new Night Museum Program.

From 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., the National Prisoner of War Museum will be open for a rare night-time opportunity to view the museum exhibits and experience the prison site. The main entrance gate will re-open at 5:45 p.m. and the museum will open at 6:00 p.m.

At the National Prisoner of War Museum, the exhibits, museum and bookstore will be open. At 7:00 p.m. a special program will occur in the museum theater. From the courtyard at the rear of the museum, the path to the prison site will be illuminated by candle lanterns, allowing access to the reconstructed northeast corner of the prison site. Among the replica shelters will be living history volunteers, portraying the often-overlooked winter period of the prison in 1864-65.

During this night-time event the prison site tour road and the Andersonville National Cemetery will be closed.

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President Carter Teaches Sunday School

President Carter Teaches Sunday School

President Jimmy Carter Teaches Sunday School

President Jimmy Carter has been teaching Sunday School since his teenage years. He continues in that calling today at Maranatha Baptist Church. Everyone is invited to join us for President Carter’s class, but there are a few things you will want to be aware of before coming. Please read through these frequently asked questions, and if you still have questions or concerns, feel free to email us at: [email protected].

When: Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Time: Sunday School Class Time: 10:00 a.m. ET

Worship service is at 11:00 A.M

Location: Maranatha Baptist Church

148 Ga. Hwy. 45 N.

Plains, Georgia 31780

Photo: Frank Kavanaugh


What time does President Carter’s Sunday School class begin?

President Carter’s Sunday School class (along with children’s classes) begins at 10:00 A.M. EDT. The church building opens at 8:30 with an orientation time beginning at 9:00. You will want to arrive before 9:00 to ensure seating and to hear all instructions presented during the orientation hour.

Where does the Sunday School class meet?

The class meets in the Maranatha Baptist Church sanctuary, which seats approximately 300 people.

When does the worship service begin?

The worship service begins at 11:00 A.M

Is there a provision for taking care of young children?

Yes. We have classes for all ages.

If the sanctuary reaches its maximum capacity before I arrive, can I still experience President Carter’s teaching?

Yes – but you may need to sit in our Fellowship Hall which serves as an overflow space for the class. A 36-inch television set gives the group a good view of President Carter as he teaches. He will stop by the Fellowship Hall first and personally greet the overflow crowd before going on to the sanctuary. Though we rarely need to utilize this space for Sunday School, there are occasions where the crowd is simply too large to fit in the sanctuary.

Can I make a reservation for me and my family?

No. We are unable to take reservations.

Will I be able to take a picture of the Carters?

Yes. There will be a short time at the beginning of the lesson to take pictures of President Carter while he greets the congregation.

Additionally, President and Mrs. Carter, depending on their schedule, remain long enough after worship for each visitor or group to have a photo taken with them. We have persons who will gladly offer to take a picture with your camera. Both still cameras and video recorders are permitted.

Can I leave the church after Sunday School and come back later for pictures?

You are welcome to leave after Sunday School, but you cannot come back for pictures with President and Mrs. Carter. Pictures are only available to those who remain through Sunday School and worship.

Can I get an autograph?

No. The Carters have stated that they do not give autographs at the church.

Is there a dress code?

There is no dress code at Maranatha – you are welcome to wear whatever feels most comfortable. A majority of guests will be dressed somewhere between “business casual” and “Sunday best,” but several folks will also be wearing blue jeans and a casual top. Either is perfectly acceptable to us.

What about security?

The U. S. Secret Service provides constant security for President and Mrs. Carter. All persons entering the church building are subject to search. You may bring in your camera and purse, but leave any scissors, pocketknives, or other metal objects in your car.

I have additional questions – how may I contact you?

Please feel free to E-Mail your questions to: [email protected]
This email account is monitored Monday-Thursday.

What are the physical address and the mailing address of the church?

Physical address: 

148 Georgia 45 North
Plains, Ga. 31780

Geology Day at Providence Canyon State Park

Geology Day at Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon is one of the great geographic wonders of the eastern United States.

Join Interpretive Ranger Trena Evans for a closeup view of this most unusual park.

Pre-registration is required.

Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

$5 admission

$5 parking

For more information and to register call 229-838-4706

Providence Canyon State Outdoor Recreation Area – Lumpkin, GA

Christmas in Plains Train Ride (Cordele, GA)

Christmas in Plains Train Ride

When: Saturday, November 29, 2014

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Make Reservation  (52 Coach seats, 3 Wheelchair spaces)
All Premium seats are reserved.
All Hawkins seats are reserved.

Get your tickets today so you can enjoy a relaxing evening on SAM Shortline as we travel to Plains in time for all the lights in Plains to glow brightly.  President and Rosalyn Carter will throw the switch to light up the town.  There will be a Christmas parade and music to put you in the spirit of Christmas.  Special plans are in store as we have word that SANTA will be joining us on our excursion.   Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.

4:15 pm    Depart Ga. Veterans State Park
No stop in Americus
5:45 pm    Arrive Plains
6:00  Lighting of town
6:10  Christmas parade and music
7:30 pm    Depart Plains
9:00 pm    Arrive Ga. Veterans State Park

Regular excursion ticket prices apply.

Beer and wine will be available for purchase while on board (Americus & Hawkins car passengers only).
Coach cars are alcohol-free.

Event Phone: 229-276-0755

Georgia Veterans State Park – SAM Shortline Platform
2459 U.S. Highway 280 W
Cordele, GA United States 31015
(MapQuest) (Google Maps)