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Sequoia National Forest – Still Bright

Kern River, Sequoia National Forest (11/12/17) Niles Armstrong

Niles Armstrong sends this first report of Peak to Past Peak color north of Kernville in the Sequoia National Forest.

Notice how full the river is running in mid November, even though it has not yet begun raining heavily, and the bright spots of gold still seen among cottonwood along the Kern River’s banks.

Kern River – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Chico – Kaching!

Chinese pistache, Mendocino National Forest-Chico Seed Farm (10/27/17) Robert Kerman

Pistache tunnel, near Durham (10/27/17) Robert Kerman

Çolor spotters are beginning to cash in by heading to Chico, as autumn color is sprinting through Patchy toward Near Peak.

Less than a week ago, we were reporting Chico as Just Starting, but these photographs sent to us by color spotter Robert Kerman show a different story… one worth a road trip and worth photographing.

Robert visited a few of his “favorite haunts for fall color,” including the U.S. Forest Service’s seed farm in Chico (First Report), whose main road is lined with colorful Chinese pistache, now just approaching Near Peak. They should be good for another two weeks.

He passed through another “pistache tunnel” along the “Midway” between Chico and Durham, near walnut orchards featured on 10/23; and found “awesome colors” at forested Bidwell Park in Chico, where The Adventures of Robin Hood was filmed in 1938, winning three Oscars.

Bidwell Park, Chico (10/27/17) Robert Kerman

So, Sherwood, do you plan to be one of Chico’s Merry men and women this weekend? If so, it looks like the fall color hunting will be Oscar-nomination-worthy.

Chico (197′) – Patchy (10-50%) – While Chico doesn’t yet show enough color to get a GO NOW! alert, fall color there is progressing rapidly. Chico should be peaking the first week of November. On our must-see list are: Midway (between Durham and Chico), walnut orchards, Bidwell Park, Esplanade and Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina.


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It’ll Be Paradise At Peak

Esplanade, Chico (10/21/17) Danie Schwartz

Trees are Just Starting to turn color in Chico, but it’ll be paradise when the Esplanade (seen above) is peaking. Then, it is one of the most fall-tastic boulevards in California.

What makes Chico’s Esplanade so exceptional is its blend of vibrant Chinese pistache and landmark Valley Oak that drape the roadway with fluorescent red, yellow, orange and lime leaves.

A trip to Butte County (northern California – CA-99) to see Chico’s peak fall colors is a favorite excursion of ours.

We make a point to stop at the Sierra Nevada brewery for lunch, visit its gift shop, tour one of Chico’s art galleries (they’re known for great galleries), then drive up the Esplanade, continuing north past peaking walnut orchards along CA-99 to Vina and the Abbey of New Clairvaux where an inspiring gothic vaulted interior from an 800-year-old monastery has been restored. It will all be peaking in two to three weeks.

Patrick Ranch, Durham (10/21/17) Danie Schwartz

Black oak, Paradise Lake (10/22/17) Cindy Lee Hoover

In nearby Durham (south of Chico – First Report), orchards arch roadways with changing color. This one is next to the Patrick Ranch on Midway Rd. Large walnut trees provide green, gold, yellow and rust colors at peak.

However, once you reach Paradise north of Chico (Yes, there is such a town), you’ll find the black oak to be at the high end of patchy. Bigleaf maple, vine maple, California buckeye, California ash, Northern California black walnut and miner’s dogwood all provide seasonal color at this elevation.

Chico (197′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Patrick Ranch (1671′), Durham – Patchy (10-50%)

Paradise (1,778′) – Patchy (10-50%)


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It Hasta Be Shasta: Trinity Scenic Byway

Lewiston Bridge (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Another of the areas Near Peak to Peaking in the Shasta Cascade region is Trinity County.

Shasta Cascade color spotter Jeri Rangel traveled the Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway (CA-3) , yesterday, including scoring a First Report for Lewiston, which requires a detour (Trinity Dam Blvd.) from the route.

From Redding, head west on CA-299 toward Weaverville (great color, plus a fascinating historic downtown and Joss House State Historic Park – all worth seeing). Trinity Dam Blvd. is a couple of miles before the turn north onto the scenic byway (CA-3).

Her route along the scenic byway traveled north from Weaverville on Hwy 3, past Trinity Lake, Trinity Center, the Trinity Alps and Etna, Scott Valley, the Marble Mountains and Ft. Jones, finding “fabulous” fall colors that have “popped out brightly all over and just about at the same time!”

She estimates that the route is at full peak, though this is an area that should stay good through early November.

Trinity Heritage Scenic Byway, CA-3 – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Dogwood, Norwegian Area, North Trinity Lake (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Scott Mountain, CA-3 (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Coffee Creek Rd., CA-3 (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Dogwood, CA-3 (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Trinity Center, CA-3 (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel

Trinity Alps Wilderness (10/18/17) Larry Leigh

Etna, Scott Valley (10/19/17) Jeri Rangel


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Hazelgreen Dip Glows in Yosemite NP

Hazelgreen Dip, CA-120, Yosemite NP (10/14/17) Simon Lau

Two miles south of the Big Oak Flat entrance station (northwest entrance, Yosemite National Park), CA-120 (called the Big Oak Flat Road inside the national park) dips near Hazelgreen. There,  dogwood, ferns, willows and bigleaf maple are putting on an irridescent show of pink, rose, yellow, gold and lime. Simon Lau scores a First Report for this area, which has long been a favorite of Yosemite color watchers.

Down in Yosemite Valley, bigleaf maple and dogwood are peaking, as well. By the end of the month, however, they’ll have dropped their leaves and the black oaks will have turned deep orange in contrast to their black branches and trunks.

By this time in Autumn, until the late 1800s, native Ahwahneechee, the band of Miwok Indians who called Yosemite Valley their home, would have burned off the Valley’s grasses, to make it easier to collect black oak acorns, a principal food and trading item.

Tioga Lake, Yosemite National Park (10/15/17) Gene Miller

On his return from the Eastern Sierra, color spotter Gene Miller passed over Tioga Pass, capturing this shot of Tioga Lake with a touch of gold surviving at 9,638′, scoring another First Report, then traveled into Yosemite Valley to get a shot of the pioneer sugar maple planted near the Yosemite Chapel nearing the end of its peak.

Hazelgreen Dip, near Big Oak Flat Entrance Station, CA-120, Yosemite National Park (4,400′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park (9,943′) – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park (4,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Dogwood, cottonwood and bigleaf maple are peaking. Black oak will peak at the end of October.

Sugar Maple, Yosemite Valley (10/15/17) Gene Miller



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West Walker Discovery

West Walker River (10/10/17) Mark Harding

The West Walker River is often overlooked as a fall color location. Mark Harding didn’t make that mistake.

Instead, he drove along a dirt road, 15 miles north of Bridgeport, to Obsidian Campground in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest yesterday to find aspen and willows in all stages of peak, coloring the dense forest near the stream with avocado green, gold, orange and rose. And, yes, it’s a First Report for this  location on the West Walker River.

West Walker River (7,800′) – Near Peak 50-75%) GO NOW!


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Henness Pass – Ever Heard of It?

Henness Pass Rd. (10/7/17) Bridgett Locken

Henness Pass Rd. (10/7/17) Bridgett Locken

Aspen, Henness Pass Rd. (10/7/17) Bridgett Locken

Henness Pass Rd. (10/7/17) Bridgett Locken









I sure hadn’t. Henness Pass Road travels east/west across the Northern Sierra, south of CA-49, roughly between Camptonville and Downieville, but slightly to the south.

As the lowest pass through the Sierra Nevada, you’d think everyone would drive it, but don’t expect to jump in your sedan for a leisurely Sunday drive, as only high clearance off-road vehicles can operate on it. This is wild country dotted with ranches, wildlife, spots of fall color and not much else.

Bridget and Bruce Locken traveled it on Saturday to score a First Report with these snapshots of the color to be seen in this remote area of California.

Henness Pass (6,920′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

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Wonder-Filled Plumas

Indian Rhubarb and riparian grass, Rock Creek (10/8/17) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb (10/87/17) Michael Beatley

When the Indian Rhubarb start to burn orange, red, yellow and green in Plumas County, there are few more striking places to be to see fall color in California than along one of its streams.

Michael Beatley captures the start of this beauty in these closeups from along Rock Creek, downstream from Meadow Camp in Meadow Valley.

Plumas County is the northernmost end of the Sierra in the vast Shasta Cascade region of California, and during autumn, it is wonder-filled.

Indian rhubarb, black oak and bigleaf maple are the predominant sources of fall color.

Though, exotic trees planted in its towns mix with the native color to create dramatic showy scenes, like that of the exotic maple planted behind the Plumas Superior Courthouse in Quincy, contrasted with a native maple seen along Big Creek road.

Eastern maple, Plumas Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/8/17) Michael Beatley

Bigleaf maple, Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/8/17) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Color spotter Michael Beatley drove to Thompson Lake (First Report), just above Bucks Lake, on the road to the dam and just off the road near 5 p.m.

Beatley called it the “Perfect time, no wind and aspen peaking at 5,600′.

What!? Peaking aspen at 5,600′ when they haven’t peaked above 9,000′ at some locations in the Eastern Sierra? What gives?

This continues to be one of the earliest autumn peaks for the Northern Sierra and one of the latest for the Eastern Sierra.

Thompson Lake, Plumas County (10/8/17) Michael Beatley






Superior Court Judge Alan Theiler Memorial Maple, Quincy (10/10/17) Michael Beatley

Thompson Ranch Maple, La Porte Rd., Quincy (10/10/17) Michael Beatley

Quincy (3,432′) –  Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Plumas County – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!



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Color Along I-80 and At Tahoe

Rainbow Lodge (10/8/17) Robert Kermen

Rainbow Lodge is a point along I-80 that I’ve always wanted to explore. Color spotter Robert Kermen got there first, to score a First Report.

He reports finding this spot of color behind Rainbow Lodge on the South Yuba River.

Rainbow Lodge, Soda Springs (6,768′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Spring Creek, South Lake Tahoe (10/8/17) Robert Kermen

Robert also was near South Lake Tahoe at the Spring Creek Recreational Tract near Emerald Bay and found color peaking there, too.

Jennifer Tiffan visited Zephyr Cove on the Nevada side of Tahoe and found more orange to share.

Quaking Aspen, Zephyr Cove, Nevada (10/8/17) Jennifer Tiffan

Spring Creek Recreational Tract (10/8/17) Robert Kermen





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Mt. San Jacinto – A Palm Springs Peak

Mount San Jacinto State Park (10/7/17) Naresh Satyan

The bright gold of peaking willows, grasses and ferns becomes intensified at sunset at Mount San Jacinto State Park above Palm Springs, reports Southern California color spotter Naresh Satyan who scores a First Report.

Naresh reported the best color seems to be along the creek between Long Valley and Tamarack valley between 8500′ and 9000′, only a short walk from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway station.

He recommends taking the tram up to hike the mountains any time of year, though in autumn, the colors provide extra incentive.

Mount San Jacinto State Park, above Palm Springs (8,516′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!