California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Archive for the ‘Fall Color Report’ Category

Name That Tree

Sun ,30/08/2015

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 Shows Early Color

Wed ,26/08/2015

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

Mon ,17/08/2015

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

Tue ,14/07/2015
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.

The Party’s Over

Wed ,17/12/2014
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

Thu ,11/12/2014
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!

New Spot: Death Valley Strikes Gold

Wed ,03/12/2014
Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster

Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster

Inspired by the Joshua Tree NP post, Max Forster went looking for cottonwood in Death Valley National Park this past weekend and found gold.

He writes, “There are some beautiful groves up Cottonwood Canyon.  To reach the trees requires approximately 20 miles of driving on a high clearance 4×4 road from Stovepipe Wells.  Once the road ends, the trees begin.

“You can continue up the canyon on foot for another four miles, encountering some impressive old growth cottonwood with each perennial spring.  I would say they were mostly right at peak on Sunday (11/30). ”

Having visited to the Colorado Plateau for fall foliage in the past, Max continues he didn’t know why he hadn’t sought out SoCal desert trees for the same color, but now that he’s living in Southern California, he plans to incorporate trips to the desert for fall color once the Sierra is past peak.
Bravo, Max! You score another first as the first color spotter to report from Death Valley.

Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster

Cottonwood Canyon, Death Valley NP (11/30/14) Max Forster

Look Down, Not Up

Tue ,02/12/2014
Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (12/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Color spotter Sandy Steinman observed that Berkeley has so many overhead telephone and power lines that they make for unattractive photographs of the urban canopy.

He recommends looking down to find more harmonious fall color and provides these post Thanksgiving dressings.

 

Black Friday Colors Up in Berkeley

Sat ,29/11/2014
UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

Sandy Steinman spent his Black Friday searching for fall color and found the best deal of the day at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden where color was peaking.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanic Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

UC Berkeley Botanic Garden (11/28/14) Sandy Steinman

Berkeley (Peak 75-100%) – UC Berkeley Botanic Garden is full of peak color. GO NOW!

Giving Thanks – California Fall Color

Thu ,27/11/2014

On Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to all who contributed photos and reports and look back at highlights of autumn 2014 through this video prepared by Ron Tyler.

In 2014, over 75 individuals contributed reports and photographs.  They include: LA Leaf Peeper, Alicia Vennos, Jon Klusmire, Robin Roberts, Katrina Lounsberry, Laura Thompson, Candace Gregory, Kimberly Kofala, Susan Taylor, Steve Wolfe, Alena Nichols, Casey Schreiner, Jared Smith, Valerie Nellor, Kevin Lennox, Susan Morning, Frank McDonough, Mike Nellor, Jeff Titcomb, Suzanne Jensen, Scott Turner, Alena Barnhart, Nicholas Barnhart, Kathy Thieu, Walter Gabler, Sharon Chew, Janek U, Yin You, Chuck Viebrock, Lee Foster, Elizabeth Erdelyi, Keith Lake, Joel Rathje, Stan Bales, Brittany Pozek, Barbara Pozek, Amanda Secrest, Greg Newbry, Darryl Chew, Ashley Mayer, Sharon Tan, Michelle Fox, Tim Colvin, Arya Degenhardt, Lara Kaylor, Bruce Williams, Jamie Lau, Suzi Brakken, Kevin Mallory, Karen Kleven, Kelly Lam, Ashley Hollgarth, Susan Holt, Crys Black, Jonathan Jahr, Jan Davies, Lorissa Soriano, Mariusz Jeglinski, Kevin Cooper, Lisa May, Gabriel Leete, Patty Brissenden, Joe Pollini, John Brissenden, Eric Trumbauer, Cory Poole, Larry Trettin, Jack Kirchert, Anson Davalos, Sandy Steinman, Nicole Coburn, Barbara Matthews, Ben Carlson, Jill Dinsmore, Laurie Baker, Jonathan Patterson, Marc Hoshovsky, Terry Willard, Julie Nelson, Dan Riley, Ron McNally, Max Forster and Ron Tyler.

Should we have overlooked your contributions, please know it wasn’t intentional; we apologize for having overlooked you and are indebted to every color spotter for their efforts, talents, attentiveness and generosity in reporting what they witnessed.

Special thanks are extended to Inyo County Tourism, Mono County Tourism, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, Redding Convention & Visitors Bureau, Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association, and The California Parks Company for underwriting California Fall Color. Thanks are also expressed to the many reporters and media who carried our reports and gave attention to what we have shown about California’s fall color.

This list of thank yous is incomplete without mentioning Joan, my wife, who has humored my recording of color percentages, species and elevations, pointed out particularly beautiful color, driven the car and pulled it over to the shoulder at my whim so that I could jump out to photograph a particularly beautiful location.

Of course, our deepest thanks go to the many tens of thousands of people who have followed and contributed to this site, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.  You are, after all, the reason we do this.

So, until next autumn, keep looking for California’s Fall Color.

California (Peak 75-100%) – In our hearts, California is always peaking. GO NOW!