Staff Photo: Jason Braverman The leaves are seen changing color from atop Stone Mountain as the city of Atlanta skyline is pictured in the distance.
Staff Photo: John Bohn Heidi Kasiske, of Duluth, walks her dog, Colebear, a Samoyed, along a path at Sims Lake park in Suwanee Wednesday afternoon.
SUWANEE -- Marty and Ruth Skinner of Gwinnett County love to watch the leaves change.
It's a favorite pastime for the family, who spent a recent weekday morning walking the Suwanee Creek Greenway. Ruth Skinner said it seemed like the colors were "much more vibrant than usual."
As the temperatures change and the autumn chill takes hold, the golden glow of hickories, fiery red dogwoods and auburn maple leaves enliven the spirits of people all over the county.
People like the Skinners said it's one of the brightest displays they've seen in several years.
A local weather expert chimed in on some of the possible reasons.
Jon Richards, who runs www.lawrencevilleweather.com, said the drought-like conditions of early summer this year combined with a slightly cooler than usual October "contribute to good-looking fall colors."
According to Kim Hatcher with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, it's peak season for leaf watching.
"Everybody thinks that the time leaves change most is during October, but it's really at peak right now," she said. "Right now, it's a nice, colorful mix."
According to Georgia DNR's website, the changing color is a "food-making process that takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color."
Taking a break from cycling on the greenway, Paul Loj of Gwinnett County said the leaves looked particularly colorful on the path.
"It's a beautiful ride this time of year," Loj said. "And on a weekday you almost have the trail to yourself."
The Skinners agreed.
"We just enjoy a nice stroll through the woods during fall," said Ruth Skinner. "It doesn't get much more beautiful than that."
For more information on leaf color, visit www.gastateparks.org/leafwatch.