California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

For Joy! California Color Reports Are Streaming In

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

We’re getting lots of great reports from color spotters all over California about the great early color being seen.  In the comments section are reports from Ben who writes, “There is a ton of fall color in Berkeley right now. Does that count?”  You bet it does, Ben.

We report all color, whether native or exotic.  Like we reported at the beginning of August, the color started appearing then.  Ben is seeing “Lots of red on the sweetgums, the Japanese maples are turning, yellow on pistache, yellow gingkos…” even “the big leaf maples are already turning yellow in the City and in the Berkeley Hills/Tilden Park. Lots of red in Tilden park in bushes…” surprise, surprise even some “Black oaks started showing some color about 2 weeks ago.”

Rebecca reports she regularly visits the site (apologies to all you California Fall Color fanatics who missed our reports during those other seasons) and repeats what Ben’s seeing… pistaches turning early, some maples are green and red with not a lot of yellow.  She visited Carmel this past weekend and found maples turning there, as well.  A lot of you out there are finding the early change to be unexpected.  We haven’t seen it this early, but then early shows have never meant a less spectacular fall.

Esther reports back from Aspendell (Eastern Sierra) where she was painting landscapes en pleine air  and was shocked by the “yellow Aspen leaves on the ground already after a windy night. I took a few home in a notebook. I was just trying to plan a fall weekend to go back up there. Looks like I better plan it for early to mid October.”

Then reporting yesterday was reliable color spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort in the Bishop Creek Canyon (Eastern Sierra) who provides the first full report of the year (see below).  If Jared is reporting this early, we’re full on.

For your review, here’s how we report color change.  It’s easy to become a California Fall Color Spotter, just email your report to us at editor@califoriafallcolor.com.  We love getting photos (the best photo of each location is all we can publish – great photos get sent to TV weather reporters across California).

We use a scale to identify the percentage of color for a given location.  This is the same scale used by The Weather Channel:

0 – 15% – Little to no color change, some lime or yellow may appear.  (Note: we include lime as color change, even though it’s yellow-green.

15 – 30% – Still mostly green though up to a third of the forest is showing lime and other colors (yellow, orange, red).

30 – 50% – Approaching half the forest is showing (lime, yellow, red, orange, pink), though half the forest remains green.

50 – 75% – Solid color change – lots of yellow, orange or red, some lime, less than 25% of the trees are green – At 50% we’ll report GO NOW!

75 – 100% – As good as it gets, this is full peak – We continue to report GO NOW!

Past Peak – Most of the leaves have blown off or turned brown or are discolored.  Still, we like to receive past peak reports, as they help identify elevation levels that are changing.

Color change can happen quickly, so be prepared to travel if the color is approaching 50%.  If you follow our reports, you’ll be able to see at what elevations color is appearing.  That will help you plan a trip.

Native trees tend to change at the same time by elevation.  Exotic trees (those not native to California) change at different times.  Individual trees may turn early or late, so they’re not as predictable as those native to California.  OK, now that you’ve had a refresher, here’s the first full report from the Eastern Sierra, though Richard McCutcheon gets the nod for sending the first report of color (Aug. 1) of an Indian Rhubarb flushing orangy-red along Butt Creek (Plumas County).

EASTERN SIERRA

Color spotter Jared Smith of the Parcher’s Resort is reporting an early show of yellow among the aspen and writes, “we figured we’d get the show on the road as it were.”  Jared plans to supply reports each week beginning in September and twice a week, if time permits, Sept. 15 – Oct. 20.  We will say, after seeing his reports and photographs, if you’ve not seen autumn in the Eastern Sierra, it is one of California’s great foliage shows and should be on your life’s list.

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Willow Creek Campground (8/25/13) © 2013 Jared Smith

Overall Conditions above 8500′

0-15% –   Still mostly green but there are just a handful of little pockets where some bright yellow can be seen. The willows are starting to lighten considerably.

Overall Conditions below 8500′

0 – 15%   –     Still mostly green but one can see the hue changing from dark to lime green has begun.

Location-specific Reports

0-15% – South Lake Rd above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft)

0-15% – Mountain Glen Campground (8400ft).

0-15% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft)

0-15% – Groves above Cardinal Village & Aspendell    (8550ft)

0-15%% – Forks Campground (8000ft – 8300ft)

0-15% – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft)

0-15% – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft)

0-15% – Willow Campground (9100ft)

0-15% – Lake Sabrina (9150ft)

0-15% – North Lake (9255ft)

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One Response to “For Joy! California Color Reports Are Streaming In” »

  1. leanne k Says:

    Hi just got back from a long weekend in Mammoth. the high meadows like Agnew, Crater and the meadow between Shadow Lake and Ediza Lake were already gold. The willows and grasses were beautiful in the blue sky. no smoke from the fires. The aspen trees were definately getting lime and some had begun to change to yellow. It seems like it is a bit early but really does feel like fall. other low growing type plants were beginning to yellow. Not really sure how to assign a % to the changes though