California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Eastern Sierra Fall Festivals and Events

     Posted on September 1, 2015 by John Poimiroo

Here are some of the festivals and events that coincide with trips to see fall color.  Boy, they sure love their barbecue in Mono County!

Links to these events are found at monocounty.org.

Ambush_at the LakeSeptember

All Days – Ambush at the Lake Fishing Derby, Convict Lake

4 – 7 – Founder’s Day, Bridgeport  (celebrating Bridgeport’s history, high plains culture with ranch roping, team branding, live theater, courthouse tours, music, quilt displays and more)

4 – 6 – Mammoth Rock N Rye (30 distilleries, 14 breweries, 8 bands in Mammoth Village)

5 – Fishin’ Mission Foundation (BBQ & Concert – benefits local students)

5 – Horseshoe Tournament & BBQ – Silver Lake Resort, June Lake

5 – June Lake Loop Big Trout Tournament

5 – Free Fishing Day (throughout Mono County – licenses required, but no fees on county waters)

5 – Tom’s Place Classic Car Show & BBQ

11 – 13 – Graniteman Challenge (Graniteman swim, Mammoth Gran Fondo and Tioga Pass Run – compete in one or all three to be named a Graniteman)

19 – 20 – Hiking the Valley, Walker/Coleville (join locals on hikes of the best trails in northern Mono County)

19 – 20 – Birding the Valley, Walker/Coleville (join an expert for two days of guided field trips on the West Walker, Sonora Pass and Antelope Valley areas)

25 – 27 – Inspired by Nature: A Writer’s Retreat, June Lake

October

All Days – Ambush at the Lake Fishing Derby, Convict Lake

3 – Deer Hunter BBQ – Walker/Coleville (Join locals to help the local chamber and get their tips on local hunting and a taste of their secret recipe BBQ)

10 – June Lake Autumn Beer Festival – Gull Lake (12+ award-winning craft brewers, food, games, live music, surrounded by fall color)

17 – Duck’s Unlimited Dinner – Bridgeport

30 – Morrison Bonus Derby Weekend – Convict Lake

November

1 – Morrison Bonus Derby Weekend – Convict Lake

1 – 15 – Ambush at the Lake Fishing Derby, Convict Lake

15 – Last Day of Regular Fishing Season – Mono County

16 – Year-round Fishing Season Begins – at designated locations on the West Walker, East Walker, Upper Owens Rivers and Hot Creek. Catch and release regulations may apply.

 

 

Last Leaves of Autumn

     Posted on August 31, 2015 by John Poimiroo

Sugaring Season, Beth Orton

Sugaring Season, Beth Orton

Beth Orton sings Last Leaves of Autumn in her album, Sugaring Season. It is about love renewed like the cycle of autumn, winter, spring and summer.

Such a lovely thought deserves retelling.  Here’s what she wrote and sings:

Oh the leaves how they shimmer
Trees lift their skirts and they quiver
Gently they lay down
To the dirt and dust and ground

They lose their innocence to find it all over
Ain’t nothing missing, they’re just high on a feeling
All they need is believing, no reason will do

I’m hanging on like the last leaves of autumn
But I’m coming through like the first shoots of spring
I’m standing outside of space of time
And I’m healing
Believing

I’m ready for a first time feeling
Something I can believe in
I’m ready for a first time feeling
Awaken sleeping season

If ever that morning came again I’d take it
If ever that morning came again I’d be there
I have tried to live each day as a last
I have found life is long and I’ve gone and got a past
And it’s best to stand in the shelter of my love

I’m hanging on like the last leaves of autumn
But one ray of sun and I bleed into one
I would light up the sky in one burning mist of flame
If I could light up the sky in one blinding mist of flame…

I’m ready for a first time feeling
Something I could believe in
I’m ready for a first time feeling
Awaken sleeping season

Name That Tree

     Posted on August 30, 2015 by John Poimiroo

Indicator #1 (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #1 (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Fall Color Creds to the first person who can name these trees, seen at Big Bear and Lake Gregory.  

Indicator #2, Big Bear  (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #2, Big Bear (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #2, Big Bear (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #2, Big Bear (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #2, Big Bear (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #2, Big Bear (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #3, Lake Gregory (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #3, Lake Gregory (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #3, Lake Gregory (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

Indicator #3, Lake Gregory (8/29/15) Alena Nicholas

The photos were taken by Alena Nicholas this weekend.  Alena describes these as ‘indicator’ trees used to mark when autumn has arrived in these San Bernardino Mountain locations.

0 – 10% – Big Bear and Lake Gregory – indicator trees are showing yellow, red and orange.

 

Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide and Map

     Posted on August 28, 2015 by John Poimiroo

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Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide

Eastern Sierra destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have collaborated to produce a comprehensive guide to fall color along US 395, a route that has been named by USA Weekend as “one of the USA’s five best road trips.”

California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Guide & Map lists major annual events, significant fall color plants, and directs color spotters to 21 locations along US 395 from Big Pine to Topaz where spectacular fall color can be viewed.

The publication can be obtained at Mono County and Inyo County websites and visitor centers or CLICK HERE

Eastern Sierra Shows Early Color

     Posted on August 26, 2015 by John Poimiroo

Smoke from the Rough Fire makes it difficult to see aspen that are turning yellow at Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

Smoke from the Rough Fire obscured the view of aspen turning yellow on the far side of Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

A quick trip to the Eastern Sierra, on Monday and Tuesday (US 50 to CA-89 to US 395), allowed time to speak with locals and visit prime fall color areas, a few of which are showing early color.

Quaking Aspen, Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

Quaking Aspen, Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

Jared Smith at Parcher’s Resort near South Lake up the South Fork of Bishop Creek (Inyo County) points to a hillside of struggling, stunted aspen between Table Mountain Campground and Willow Campground that have lit up in mixed yellow and lime.  He’s been closely observing seasonal change at Bishop Creek for a decade and says this is one of the earliest appearances he’s seen.

Aspen growing along the banks of the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek that flows out of Lake Sabrina are also starting to show yellow.  Though, most of the aspen in Bishop Creek Canyon are deeply green and healthy, indicating that fall color will appear about the same time of year, as usual.  The healthiest of the groves are near Four Jeffrey, where very tall and lush aspen grow and in Aspendell whose verdant stands are doing well.

Jared attributes the health of Bishop Creek’s aspen to late spring and early summer rains that irrigated them.  In past years, we’ve noted that fall color in healthy forests tends to last longer… that is, unless storms strip the leaves.

Tim Fesko of Meadowcliff Resort along the Walker River at the northern end of Mono County (US 395) says early summer rains extended the wildflower blooms.  He drove up to Lobdell Lake atop Mt. Patterson two weeks ago and found it populated with more wildflowers than he can ever recall seeing so late in summer.

Fireweed and Willows at South Lake (8/25/15) John Poimiroo

Fireweed and Willows at South Lake (8/25/15) John Poimiroo

Willows, North Lake Road, N. Fork Bishop Creek 98/24/15) John Poimiroo

Willows, North Lake Road, N. Fork Bishop Creek 98/24/15) John Poimiroo

One of the pleasures of early fall color viewing is to find wildflowers blooming just as fall color is beginning to show.  This is evident at South Lake where hot pink fireweed is pushing up through fully peaked yellow-orange willows at 9,200′.

At Lake Sabrina, a hillside of full peak willows runs like an orange ribbon climbing through the aspen near the end of the dam, and at North Lake, willows flank North Lake Road with a cordon of rustling yellow-orange leaves.

Just below the South Fork hillside of early turning aspen that Jared mentioned, bright yellow rabbitbrush line South Fork Road between Four Jeffrey and Mountain Glen.

Rubber rabbitbrush, June Lake (8/25/15) John Poimiroo

Rubber Rabbitbrush, June Lake (8/25/15) John Poimiroo

More cadmium yellow rabbitbrush paint the edges of US 395 north of Mammoth Lakes and at Oh! Ridge viewpoint above June Lake.  

Time didn’t permit a side trip to visit Mammoth Lakes this trip, but – wow – the view of Mammoth Mountain, the Minarets and Sierra is impressive on the drive north toward Mammoth from Bishop. This must be the most spectacular horizon at a mountain resort in North America!

Lundy Canyon (8/22/15) Alicia Vennos

Orange Willows and Green Aspen, Lundy Canyon (8/22/15) Alicia Vennos

Mono County color spotter Alicia Vennos was hiking this past weekend and found the aspen in Lundy Canyon to be dark green (with one exception beside the trail), but that willows at higher elevations, as seen in Bishop Creek Canyon, have turned bright yellow-orange.  

Juniper Berries (8/22/15) Alicia Vennos

Juniper Berries (8/22/15) Alicia Vennos

She noted that Juniper bushes appear to be blue from a distance, due to the many Juniper berries carried on their branches.

This scouting trip confirmed that the signs are mostly positive that this autumn’s show should be colorful and long-lasting (conditions permitting).  The only areas of concern were groves of quaking aspen near the Sorensen’s Resort in the Hope Valley (CA-88 – Carson Pass) and atop Monitor Pass (CA-89) that have been afflicted with a fungus that damages the leaves with brown spots.  

John Brissenden at Sorensen’s says some aspen near the resort have lost half their leaves due to the disease. 

Fortunately for Sorensen’s and the many color spotters who appreciate visiting the Hope Valley (count me among them), the valley is populated with thousands of aspen, most of which are deeply green and healthy.  The healthiest of them are seen along the West Fork of the Carson River, east of Sorensen’s and seen from Hwy 88 in the Hope Valley up to the east side of Carson Pass.

0 – 10% – Bishop – Fremont Cottonwood that populate Bishop are deep green and healthy.

Quaking aspen, Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

Quaking Aspen, Lake Sabrina (8/24/15) John Poimiroo

10 – 50% – Lake Sabrina, Middle Fork Bishop Creek – On the lower end of this scale, color is beginning to paint slopes from 9,200′ up to 10,000′.  Aspen below the dam are speckled with gold.

10 – 50% – South Fork Bishop Creek – A hillside of aspen have turned yellow between Table Mountain and Willow campgrounds.  Most of the aspen are deep green and will turn on schedule from late Sept. to mid Oct.

0 – 10% – June Lake Loop – A few aspen are showing spots of color.

10 – 50% – Reverse Creek Campground, June Lake – Approx. 15% of the aspen in the campground have begun to turn.

0 – 10% – Walker River, Walker, Coleville – Fremont cottonwood look healthy and deeply green.

10 – 50% – Monitor Pass –  The aspen atop the pass are suffering, partly because this is a windswept area with poor nutrients and due to a fungus that has spotted leaves.  Several trees have lost leaves and appear to be struggling.

0 – 10% – Carson Pass – The aspen throughout most of the Hope Valley look healthy and full of green leaves, though a few stands near Sorensen’s Resort have lost half their leaves due to the same fungus afflicting those on Monitor Pass.  A new National Weather Service weather station in a meadow near Sorenson’s will provide detailed information on weather conditions there.

Early Signs of Color Change

     Posted on August 17, 2015 by John Poimiroo

Chinese Pistache (8/17/15) John Poimiroo

Chinese Pistache, El Dorado Hills (8/17/15) John Poimiroo

As is typical in August, certain specimens begin to exhibit color change, long before other trees of their species.  A previous post showed an example of a liquidamber in Los Angeles that by now, last and this summer, is already showing fall color. As seen in this photograph, some branches on exotic Chinese pistache found along El Dorado Hills Boulevard and in neighborhoods are now showing yellow leaves and rose-colored berries (they began exhibiting this color starting two weeks ago). These early signs are indicators of coming change, but not evidence of the early onset of autumn. They’re normal signs that appear annually.

0 – 10% – El Dorado Hills – Exotic Chinese pistache have begun coloring up, though peak color will not be seen until mid October.

LA Liquidambar Shines Again

     Posted on July 14, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (7/5/15) LA  Leaf Peeper

Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (7/5/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (8/12/14 - LA Leaf Peeper)

Liquidambar, South of West Hollywood in LA (8/12/14 – LA Leaf Peeper)

The liquidambar that LA Leaf Peeper saw turning color last August is coloring up again this July.  Here’s a comparison between the two shots.

Individual trees may begin to turn color earlier than others of their specie, though that does not necessarily mean autumn is appearing earlier.  This is common.  Autumn usually shows in fullness within a week or two of what it was in previous years.

Nevertheless, LA Leaf Peeper can again declare “she’s on first!”

0 – 10% – Los Angeles County – Early signs of color change can be seen in specific trees.

California’s Best Outdoor Medium

     Posted on June 24, 2015 by John Poimiroo
Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

CaliforniaFallColor.com was judged to be the Best Outdoor Medium in California for 2015 by the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC).

Journalist members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association judged the statewide competition for OWAC and credited CaliforniaFallColor for its comprehensive coverage of autumn across California, solid writing and reporting and the many spectacular images contributed by photographers from throughout the state.

Special thanks are expressed to our readers, sponsors and contributors who all share in this honor.

The Party’s Over

     Posted on December 17, 2014 by John Poimiroo
California Christmas Holly, Toyon (12/17/14) John Poimiroo

California Christmas Holly, Toyon (12/17/14) John Poimiroo

With successive storms having lashed the state over the past two weeks, California Holly (toyon) is now providing seasonal color across a mostly bare landscape.  This Sunday, Dec. 21, is the Winter Solstice and fall color has effectively disappeared throughout most of California.

A few bright spots exist in Southern California, though it’s mostly gone and not distinctive.  So, until next autumn, CaliforniaFallColor.com is declaring the party over.  See you next year.

California (Past Peak) – You Missed It!

LA County Arboretum Still Peaking

     Posted on December 11, 2014 by John Poimiroo
Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/9/14) Frank McDonough

Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/9/14) Frank McDonough

LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

Ginkgo, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

Liquidambar, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

Liquidambar, LA Co. Arboretum & Botanic Gardens (12/4/14) Frank McDonough

While stormy weather has washed away what little color remained in Northern California, until today the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botantic Garden was one of the last holdouts for fall color.

Frank McDonough reports that Ginkgo biloba and Liquidambar were still peaking at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, yesterday, though the spent leaves below a Ginkgo (seen above) illustrate how fragile the remaining color is.

Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Arcadia (Peak – 75 – 100%) – Ginkgo biloba and Liquidambar are providing most of the remaining color at the LA County Arboretum, but high winds lashing California are likely to strip what’s left. About 25% of trees there have not yet peaked. GO NOW!