California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Archive for October, 2009

Eastern Sierra — It was fun while it lasted.

Fri ,30/10/2009
Lake Sabrina (9/16/09)

Lake Sabrina (9/22/09)

Leslie Dawson, Alicia Vennos and Greg Newbry confirm that the high winds that lashed the Eastern Sierra this past week stripped most of the color from the aspen, though cottonwoods which had not yet turned are lime-green to golden and will last for a week or two more.  The aspen in Lower Rock Creek and the lower Lee Vining Canyon were spared from the strongest winds and still have yellow to orange color.  While there are occasional pockets of color in the Eastern Sierra, it is mostly past peak and this will be the last report for the Eastern Sierra.

This was one of the finest years to see fall color in the Eastern Sierra, with breathtaking displays of yellow, orange and red aspen showing in early September high up Bishop Creek (seen at left) and finishing at Halloween with pockets of aspen in sheltered canyons and cottonwoods still glowing.

75-100% – Bishop, Lower Rock Creek Canyon, Lower Lee Vining Canyon and the Antelope Valley. Still good color among the aspen in protected canyons and cottonwoods near Bishop and the Antelope Valley.

Past Peak – Everything Else. It was fun while it lasted.

Now, don’t be confused… we’re only talking about the Eastern Sierra (Mono and Inyo Counties).  Lots of color is still to be enjoyed in the Western (Yosemite Valley) and Northern Sierra (Plumas County).

Redwood Highway… Yellow in the Redwoods

Fri ,30/10/2009

Elk Meadow Cabins, Redwood Nat'l and State Parks

Elk Meadow Cabins, Redwood Nat'l and State Parks

30-50% — The Redwood Highway. Drive the Redwood Highway north of Willits to Scotia, and you’ll be treated to spots of color along the way.  Although the locations listed below are in south to north order, it’s a bit more colorful to drive north to south, as the sunlight will illuminate leaves, intensifying their color.  Here’s a suggested route that provides the most intense color:  begin in Redding and overnight there (with a visit to Sundial Bridge), then travel west on CA-299 to Arcata and up to Redwood National and State Parks.  Overnight at Elk Meadow Cabins north of Orick (with a visit to see the Roosevelt Elk and Fern Canyon), then travel south on the Redwood Highway (U.S. 101).

50-75% — Willits to Laytonville. The drive from Willits north to Laytonville is forested with orange and yellow oaks on both sides of the road, with occasional touches of lime green, mixed with firs and pines, making for a beautiful show.

50-75% — Rattlesnake Summit (1,795’). A number of alder and bigleaf maple on both sides of U.S. 101 provide a colorful show of yellow and gold past Rattlesnake Summit.

30-50% — Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area 101 (500’). Beside the Eel River, between Elfin Glen and Confusion Hill there are lots of yellow bigleaf maple in the redwood forests.

30-50% — Richardson Grove State Park. Bright yellow bigleaf maple decorate the redwood forests from Richardson Grove State Park north through The Avenue of the Giants to Scotia.  This past week’s winds did not affect those in the forest.

Roosevelt Elk Rut

Roosevelt Elk Rut

75-100% — Redwood National and State Parks. The redwood forests north of Orick along US 101 are occasionally speckled with orange-yellow bigleaf maple and alders.  Fall color is best inside the national and state parks where the combination of warm colors of the autumn leaves and kelly-green moss provide the most dramatic contrast.  Another colorful aspect of fall in California is the elk rut at Redwood National and State Parks.  These elk bulls were seen battling by outdoor photographer, Rick E. Martin at the Elk Meadow Cabins near Orick.  CLICK HERE to view a video of impressive elk rut photos taken by Rick.

Photo Credit: © 2009, Rick E. Martin

Pear Orchards Now Golden in Big Valley

Fri ,30/10/2009

50-75% — Cobb Mountain (2,800’). Along Diamond Dust Trail and Salmina Road off CA-175,  maples and dogwoods are aglow against a backdrop of forest green pines and oaks.

75-100% — Kelseyville. Strong gusty winds in the lower elevations near the Big Valley area have helped the pear trees stand out more, as the walnuts are now past peak and lost many leaves. Pear orchards are showing golden in this area that was once known as the “Pear Capital of the World.” Bring along a basket for a stop at any of several roadside stands selling Lake County Mountain Pears in the Big Valley area. Vineyards in the Red Hills AVA nearby are deepening to russet, vermillion, and mahogany.

Walnut Orchards Starting to Show Near Dixon

Fri ,30/10/2009

0-15% — Central Valley. The walnut orchards are beginning to show orange-yellow along Interstate 80 near Dixon.

Deans Valley Dogwood and Oaks Fired Up

Thu ,29/10/2009
Oak Leaves - Deans Valley (10/29/09)

Oak Leaves - Silver Lake (10/29/09)

Richard McCutcheon of Quincy says the nearby Deans Valley and Silver Lake are on fire with red dogwood and oaks and yellow aspen.

75-100% — Plumas County (3,000’). There has been an explosion of color in the past week with yellow, orange, red and colors in between, like pinks and purples.  The bigleaf maple, cottonwood, aspen, oaks and even the dogwoods are glowing… a beautiful sight to behold.

Aspen - Deans Valley (10/29/09)

Aspen - Silver Lake (10/29/09)

75-100% — Deans Valley. Take the road to Meadow Valley from Quincy and head to the Deans Valley for a bit of rosy dogwood.

75-100% — Silver Lake. Aspen are glowing bright yellow-orange in the pines and the oaks are a beautiful mix of yellow, orange and auburn at Silver Lake, near Quincy.

Photo Credit: © 2009, Richard McCutcheon

Redding to Weaverville, Subtle Beauty

Thu ,29/10/2009
Weaverville (10/27/09)

Weaverville (10/27/09)

CA-299 between Redding and Fortuna is subtly washed with shades of orange and gold.

75-100% — Whiskeytown NRA to Weaverville (2,500’). There are some truly lovely areas of color on SR 299 between Whiskeytown National Recreation Area to Weaverville.  Orange oaks predominate.  Bigleaf maple add bright yellow.  An occasional poison oak flashes orange-red. For most of the year, California’s ridiculed digger pines are the gangly eyesores of the forest, but at this time of year, their green-grey needles contrast beautifully with the oranges and yellows of their deciduous neighbors and the forest’s deeper green conifers, making the diggers stand out beautifully.

75-100% — Trinity River Canyon. Morning fog provides Halloween drama as it mixes with the starkly empty branches of trees that have dropped their leaves along the banks of the Trinity River.  The foliage glows pink-orange in the morning making forest colors come alive.  Morning mist adds a soft greyness to the air, that is missed later in the day, as wisps of fog hang among the canyons.  Large, heart-shaped wild cucumber spot the forest floor with yellow, orange and auburn at 1,300’ along the river canyon.  Use a long lens to get shots from the highway side of the river.

15-30% — Junction City. A road canopied with tall trees winds through this country town past old wooden buildings.  The trees’ color still has a week or two before peak, as which time it will make a memorable photograph.

Past Peak — Hay Fork. Sorry, you had to be there.  A few flashes of yellow and red are all that remain.

75-100% — Mt Shasta (3,500’). Though the oaks are now showing gold and maples and dogwood flame red, get there quickly as they say the color turns quickly in the town of Mt Shasta.  Best viewing places are the Everett Memorial Highway and Old Stage Rd.

30-50-% –Willow Creek. A boulevard of sycamores that line CA-299 in Willow Creek are turning yellow with a tinge of orange.  To the west of Willow Creek, bigleaf maple are turning orange with tinges of lime green and yellow along the banks of the Trinity River in Six Rivers National Forest.

75-100% — Paradise Ridge (1,500’). Not many native trees provide seasonal change of color, though exotic liquidambar, dogwood and maples are at peak.

30-50% — Trinity County (2,188’). Native oaks and lotuses are just turning, though you’ll see bright yellow and red throughout the county.

75-100% to Past Peak — Lassen Volcanic National Park (5,600’). Lassen VNP is at peak to past peak, depending upon elevation.  The Devastated Area, Hat Creek and areas of aspen between 5,000 and 6500’ are where it’s best.

75-100% — Lassen County (4,255’). The color is at peak throughout Lassen County, which includes Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Look for bright yellow, orange and red, particularly in riparian areas.

10-15% — McArthur-Burney Falls State Park (3,000’). Mostly orange and yellow with a sprinking of red among the predominant evergreen forest.

0-15% — Shasta Lake Ranger District (900’). Colors are just beginning to change with yellow dominating.  Exotic liquidambar and chinese pistache at the USFS offices should turn orange and red in the next two weeks.

30-50% — Weaverville (2,000’). It’s still early for the large elms in historic Weaverville.  Give it a week or two and this distinctive gold rush era town will come alive with golden color.  Beyond Oregon Mountain there is little color until you return to the river canyon.

15-30% — Weaverville Ranger District (2,500’). Native oaks are changing in the forest with different shades of yellow, orange and brown, but not much red.

0-15% — Lower Trinity Ranger District (Willow Creek – 4,000’). The leaves are turning at 4,000’, visible from the lookout.  You$B!G(Jll see oranges from the oaks, bits of yellow from bigleaf maple and bright red from the poison oak.

75-100% — Fall River (3,000’). The oaks are ablaze with color, showing shades of orange, red and yellow, especially along roads.

50-75% — Surprise Field (5,000’). Over the past three weeks, this area has shown off and on, exhibiting colors ranging from light yellow to deep red, which can be seen just about anywhere in the area.  The Surprise Field area is expected to peak within a week to a week and a half.

75-100% — Eagle Lake BLM Field Office (5,000’). There is a beautiful array of orange, yellow and red just about anywhere you look, as the forests appear to have reached peak.  Aspen and bigleaf maple are at peak.

30-50% — Oroville (1,000’). Just beginning to see color change in the Sierra foothills near Oroville.

0-15% — Red Bluff (300’). Still early.  Look to the river bank foliage along the Sacramento River for the best color and photographs.

Shasta Cascade Erupting With Color

Mon ,26/10/2009
Dunsmuir (stock photo)

Dunsmuir (stock photo)

Dunsmuir (stock photo)

Dunsmuir (stock photo)

The Shasta Cascade region of northeast California is erupting with color as reported by the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association.  Here’s the latest:

10-15% — McArthur-Burney Falls State Park (3,000′). Mostly orange and yellow with a sprinking of red among the predominant evergreen forest.

0-15% — Shasta Lake Ranger District (900′). Colors are just beginning to change with yellow dominating.  Exotic liquidambar and chinese pistache at the USFS offices should turn orange and red in the next two weeks.

15-30% — Weaverville Ranger District (2,500′). Native oaks are changing in the forest with different shades of yellow, orange and brown… not much red.

0-15% — Lower Trinity Ranger District (Willow Creek – 4,000′). The leaves are turning at 4,000′, visible from the lookout.  You’ll see oranges from the oaks, bits of yellow from bigleaf maple and bright red from the poison oak.

75-100% — Fall River (3,000′). The oaks are ablaze with color, showing shades of orange, red and yellow, especially along roads.

50-75% — Surprise Field (5,000′). Over the past three weeks, this area has shown off and on, exhibiting colors ranging from light yellow to deep red, which can be seen just about anywhere in the area.  The Surprise Field area is expected to peak within a week to a week and a half.

75-100% — Eagle Lake BLM Field Office (5,000′). There is a beautiful array of orange, yellow and red just about anywhere you look, as the forests appear to have reached peak.  Aspen and bigleaf maple are at peak.

75-100% — Plumas County (3,000′). There’s been an explosion of color in the past week with yellow, orange, red and colors in between, like pinks and purples.  The bigleaf maple, cottonwood, aspen, oaks and even the dogwoods are glowing… a beautiful sight to behold.

75-100% to Past Peak — Lassen Volcanic National Park (5,600′ – 10,500′). Lassen VNP is at peak to past peak, depending upon elevation.  The Devastated Area, Hat Creek and areas of aspen between 5,000 and 6500′ are where it’s best.

30-50% — Hay Fork (2,300′). Hay Fork has had a disappointing show this year, compared to the previous year.

75-100% — Mt. Shasta (3,500′). Now’s the time to head to Mt. Shasta.  The color is beautiful and won’t last much longer.

30-50% — Oroville (1,000′). Just beginning to see color change in the Sierra foothills near Oroville.

0-15% — Red Bluff (300′). Still early.  Look to the river bank foliage along the Sacramento River for the best color and photographs.

Wow!

Mon ,26/10/2009
Walker Canyon (10/25/09)

Walker Canyon (10/25/09)

Walker Canyon (10/25/09)

Walker Canyon (10/25/09)

“Wow!” is all Tim Fesko had to say to describe color in the Eastern Sierra which is at peak.  Tim reported that fall colors are to be seen “just about everywhere you look.”  He says, “Just a tad of lime green, the yellows and oranges are bountiful and striking!” Here’s how it looked this past weekend:

75-100% — Walker Canyon (5400′ – 6000′). Aspen, Cottonwoods and Willows are turning yellow and the oranges are really starting to pop!

50-75% — Antelope Valley (Walker, Coleville & Topaz, 5000′ – 5300′). Cottonwoods are turning from the lime green to yellows. Most are 50/50 with some completely yellow. Some oranges are starting.

75-100% — Monitor Pass (7000′ – 8300′). Monitor Pass, 8314 ft, is at peak.  In areas around the pass, partial to full yellows, some oranges!

Sonora Pass (10/25/09)

Sonora Pass (10/25/09)

75-100% — Sonora Pass (7000′ – 9200′). On the hillsides higher up, groves of yellow and oranges abound. About a third of trees have lost their leaves due to some colder nights and high winds last week. Colors are soon to be done up at these elevations.

Photo Credit: © 2009, Tim Fesko

Monitor Pass/Antelope Valley Near Peak

Fri ,23/10/2009
Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Monitor Pass (10/23/09)

Walker Canyon (10/23/09)

Walker Canyon (10/23/09)

EASTERN SIERRA

30-50% — Antelope Valley (Walker, Coleville & Topaz 5000′ – 5300′). Mark Fesko of the Meadowcliff Resort reports that the cottonwoods in the Antelope Valley are turning from the lime green to yellows. Some at completely yellow while others are half & half.

50-75% — Monitor Pass (7000′ – 8300′). Mark’s run up to Monitor Pass, reported partial to full yellow aspen leading up to the summit at 8314′ which is now 75-100% of peak.  This is a good weekend to travel over Monitor Pass to  the Antelope Valley.

50-75% — Walker Canyon (5400′ – 6000′). Aspen, Cottonwoods and Willows are turning.  Mark says lots of yellows and some oranges are starting to pop!

Photo Credit: © 2009, Mark Fesko

Eastern Sierra at Full Peak

Thu ,22/10/2009

Silver Lake, June Lake (10/18/09)

Silver Lake, June Lake (10/16/09)

75-100% — Crowley Lake to June Lake. Greg Newbry reports that the Eastern Sierra is ablaze with color from Crowley Lake north to June Lake.

Photo Credit: © 2009, Greg Newbry

McGee Creek (10/16/09)

McGee Creek (10/16/09)

June Lake (10/16/09)

June Lake (10/16/09)

June Lake (10/16/09)

June Lake (10/16/09)

June Lake Drive (10/18/09)

June Lake Drive (10/16/09)

Reverse Creek, June Lake (10/18/09)

Reverse Creek, June Lake (10/16/09)