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Give Thanks, The Bay Area is Peaking

Fall color and Palm Trees, Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

In the early 1960s, Burlingame and San Mateo High Schools held “The Little Big Game” – their long-standing rivalry – on Thanksgiving Day.

I know, because I attended those games each Thanksgiving Day (Yes, I am that old).

Walking to the games (held at BHS) was a memory-searing experience. Cars, decorated with crepe paper ribbons of red, white, orange and black – the competing schools’ colors – rolled past, their passengers shouting cheers through open windows.

The distant sounds of bands, each trying to outdo the other with a louder fight song, was carried through the crisp autumn air across Burlingame parks and streets.

Those streets and parks are still forested with the same ancient trees. Their thick branches, during Thanksgiving Week, are laden with heavy loads of auburn, crimson, orange, ginger, yellow, gold, emerald and tawny-colored leaves.

Their crowns are supported by massive trunks rising from feet so gnarled that they unearth and twist sidewalks into tilting slabs of concrete.

Following the game, I’d return along those uprooted paths, my chilled hands stuffed deeply into my jacket’s felt-lined pockets, to a warm home in Hillsborough and Thanksgiving dinner.

Those days influenced a lifelong affection for autumn. I still associate vibrant Peak color and a football game played on a dewy field with Thanksgiving Day.

Today, a reporter from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat called to ask if the fall color is unusually vibrant everywhere or just in Santa Rosa (north of the Bay Area). I couldn’t say with certainty, as this has been an autumn when nothing seems to follow what’s happened historically.

Early this autumn, stands of aspen were still green near 10,000′ in elevation, while others at 8,000′ were peaking. Some groves had levels of color change, from Just Starting to Past Peak, all at once.

From across the state, anxious calls and emails arrived, asking why 2017 was so different. I had begun to question  everything I’d come to expect about fall color.

Then, proof arrived that this is not the end of times. Photographs from Bay Area color spotters Sandy Steinman and Darrell Sano renewed my faith in the traditions of autumn by reminding me of the lustrous hues I saw in my salad days.

The San Francisco Bay Area is again peaking on time for Thanksgiving Day. Give thanks.

San Francisco Bay Area – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The best color can be seen in the urban forests of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, San Francisco, Danville, Walnut Creek, Corte Madera, Lafayette, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Burlingame, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Campbell and San Jose. Peak of the Week.

California Grape, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Chinese pistache, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Persimmon, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

California Grape, Berkeley (11/19/17) Sandy Steinman

Fall color and palm trees, Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Telegraph Ave., Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Near Telegraph Ave., Berkeley (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

Japanese maple, Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland (11/18/17) Darrell Sano

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Grass Valley Glows

Black oak, Grass Valley (11/8/17) Robert Kermen

Bigleaf maple, Grass Valley (11/8/17) Robert Kermen

Red maple, Grass Valley (11/8/17) Robert Kermen

Black oak, bigleaf maple, red maple and gingko biloba were at peak today in Grass Valley, color spotter Robert Kermen reports, a sure sign that the Gold Country is a Peak of the Week destination for this weekend.

Grass Valley (2,411′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Gingko biloba, Grass Valley (11/8/17) Robert Kermen

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Time to be Outside on the Eastside

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Whoa, if ever there were a weekend to get Outside on the Eastside, this is it in Mono County.

Peak color can be found anywhere you go and whichever direction you drive. We’ll be posting an update on Lake Tahoe and the Hope Valley, after returning to scout those locations (Oct. 12) and fully expect the color to be great, just as it is in Mono and Inyo Counties right now.

Part of the reason this autumn is so good is why it is so confusing. On the exact same day for the same location we’ve received conflicting reports stating, “It’s gone” or “it’s spectacular” or “not yet there.”

What’s happening is that the aspen forest, for the first time in anyone’s memory, is turning by grove. Stands of aspen are different genetically, and they’re demonstrating their individuality this autumn. In past years, the genetic differences between the groves seemed to make little difference, as the trees at least acted as if they were on the same clock. Not this year.

What that means for fall color viewing is that the show is lasting longer, but not as uniformly at any given location.

The big change this past week occurred at the highest elevations, which for the most part went Past Peak. Places like Upper Rock Creek (10,300′), Tioga Pass (9,943′) and Sagehen Meadows (8,139′ – High Desert, so it’s drier there) are now Past Peak.  Though, that’s not universally true. Some of the groves at “you’ll-get-winded walking there” heights are still green.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Some spotters began declaring calamity after seeing stripped stands at some locations, posting on Facebook and elsewhere that high winds had stripped the color. So, I called Mono County fall color guru Jeff Simpson (Yes, you’ve now achieved guru status in your life, Jeff).

Jeff lives on the eastside and has been reporting autumn color for years. He seemed to be offended by the suggestion that fall had ended, saying, “in no way have all the leaves blown off.”

OK, Jeff, OK. I believe you, especially since you’re now a guru and after seeing your photos, taken as late as yesterday.

So, count on it.

This weekend, there’ll be lots of gorgeous color to be seen at: Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Canyon, Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake Road, Lee Vining Canyon, Monitor Pass and the June Lake Loop, even if a few leaves have fallen, as seen at right.

Here’s a detailed report from Mono County, a go-to destination for great fall color this week:

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Peak (75-100%) – Aspen on the summit are perfect, right now. Look for the large grove of trees on the east side of the summit to have the best display of color. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) – This area has never looked as good. Lots of peaking trees with deep reds and yellows. Get here fast, as some stands are past peak or will not last much longer.  Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Walker Canyon (5,200′)- Patchy (10-50%) – Walker canyon has slowed since last reported. There are stands with great yellows and lime greens while others are just getting started. Give it a week and it’ll be rating “Go Now!”, but not just yet.

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Just Starting (0-10%) – A few cottonwoods have started to turn but this is traditionally the last place to peak in Mono County. Look to go here in the 3rd or 4th week in October. Nevertheless, there are spots where the tall cottonwood are crowned with yellow in the midday sun.

Sonora Pass (9,623′)- Peak (75-100%) – It’s a fall color inversion here, as colors are looking nice around Leavitt Meadows Pack station and the lower sections of Sonora Pass, whereas aspen near the summit never seemed to get going. You’ll find peak to past peak groves along the road and is still worth the trip this weekend. See our earlier report about Obsidian Campground – glorious! GO NOW!

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes (7,000′) -Peak (75-100%) – The biggest change in Mono County this week has occurred at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Wonderful color has appeared along the upper and lower lakes, and up the mountainside toward Horse Creek. GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) –Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak – The leaves never got going at Virginia Lakes, this year. Though, there’s still some great color along Lower Virginia Lakes Road. GO NOW! as You’re About to Miss It.

Conway Summit (8,143′)- Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lot’s of great color at Conway Summit right now. A few stands are a little green while most of the mountainside is at full peak. Tip: visit in the late afternoon, as shadows make this difficult to photograph in morning light. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) – – Simply spectacular. Entire groves of peaking aspens make this location a must stop.  NOTE: The Summers Meadow bridge sustained significant damage during the spring runoff. The bridge has been reduced to one lane traffic but is currently open to visitors traveling to Summers Meadow. GO NOW!

Conway Summit (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is great color to be found in Lee Vining Canyon, especially along Log Cabin Mine Road. Higher up, Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake are past peak. GO NOW!

Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′)- Peak (75-100%) – Be prepared for brilliant color up Lee Vining Canyon at the first set of waterfalls. Color along the road and campground is our peak as Peak of the Week. GO NOW!

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Past Peak (You Missed It.)

JUNE LAKE LOOP

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lots of bright lime, yellow and orange in the aspen around the June Lake Loop. There are peak trees just about everywhere. And yet, the June Lake Loop will last another week or two. We do not recommend delaying, but if you only can visit in two weeks, you should still find spots of good color. GO NOW!

Parker Lake (8,000′) – 50-100% Go Now!  – Wow. From Parker Bench to Parker Lake be prepared to drop your jaw. You will find a mix of color from Patchy to Near Peak, to Peaking, to Past Peak, but overall it’s lovely. GO NOW!

MAMMOTH LAKES

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Mammoth has come into its own, with good color along Mammoth Creek Road and Sherwin Creek Road and among bright orange willows at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow Rd. (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – – McGee Creek Canyon is at full peak and has wonderful color right now while the road is still a bit patchy. GO NOW!

Around Crowley Community (6,781′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Poke around the community and you’ll find bright color there and along the hillsides beside U.S. 395. Take the “old US 395” road from McGee Creek to Tom’s Place for great views of the color change that’s occurring up the mountain. GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) – Convict Lake is a “must” stop this week. Colors are at their peak along the lake and up Convict Canyon. Take the 2.5 mile “Convict Lake Loop Trail” around the lake for a close up view of the leaves and different angles of Mt. Morrison. GO NOW!

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) –Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) –  – Wonderful color along the lower section of Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place. There are sections of great Yellows and Oranges while other areas above the lake may be past peak. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Road(7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%)

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Lundy’s Looking Luscious

Lundy Canyon (10/8/17) Dylan Ren

Lundy Canyon (10/8/17) Dylan Ren

Jean Pan reports that she and her husband, Dylan Ren, visited Bishop, the June Lake loop and Lundy Canyon this past weekend. And, “It was really nice!”

Of these areas, they chose to linger in Lundy Canyon, because of its luscious color. They stopped at a day use area, about a mile or two up the canyon, where they entered an aspen grove that was cloaked in golden and red leaves.

Jean reported that the Lundy Canyon Campground had the best color she saw and estimates Lundy Canyon to be at peak, so we’re gonna declare it Peak of the Week.

However, please note that these photographs were taken before this week’s wind event. Today, winds gusting to 30 mph are predicted for the Eastern Sierra and days will remain breezy for the rest of the week.

So, we caution that areas that have turned color will lose some color, but those in the process of turning will continue to hold color. Jeff Simpson from Mono County affirms this reporting that while higher elevations (Sagehen, Virginia Lakes, Sonora Pass) have lost some of their leaves, lower elevations – including areas like the June Lake Loop and Lundy Canyon are still prime for a big show this weekend.

The June Lake Loop is nearing peak and should peak this weekend. Some locations, like Gull Lake, are already at Peak.

Lundy Canyon (7,858′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
June Lake Loop (7,654′)- Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Gull Lake, June Lake Loop (10/8/17) Dylan Ren

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California Roundup

Green Lake (9/23/17) Naresh Satyan

Color spotters from across California have been contributing their observations.  Here’s a roundup of what they’re seeing.

Eastern Sierra

Groves Above Cardinal Village (9/24/17) Clayton Peoples

Clayton Peoples spent Sunday in the upper reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon and reports, “Although I agree with color spotter Will Ridgeway on rating the high elevations above Lake Sabrina as “Near Peak” (50-75%), much of Bishop Creek Canyon is still “Patchy” (10-50%)–but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still beautiful color to be found.

“For instance, the upper portion of the groves above Cardinal Village have turned mostly orange. Given a few more days, this subset of aspens will likely be at peak color. Likewise, some of the aspen around Lake Sabrina have begun to turn yellow and/or orange–but will likely need a week or more to reach peak color.

Nevertheless, Clayton predicts there will be “numerous weeks of good color to come in Bishop Creek Canyon as color fills in more fully in the high elevations, then works its way down.” Clayton would assess Bishop Creek Canyon as “Peak of the Week” worthy… and we agree.

South Lake Rd, near Parchers, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/23/17) Naresh Satyan

Naresh Satyan hiked from South Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon to Green Lake (up to 12,400′) before snow turned him back, yesterday. He reports that aspens along South Lake road are still mostly green and healthy), though he found a few stands surrounding the Parchers Resort that are turning nicely.

The color appears to be best at or above 10,000′ which coincides with a Near Peak (GO NOW!) report we received this past week from Sabrina Lake.

You will, however, find peak color among the willows, grasses and ground covers. That is evident in the photo of Green Lake (11,260′) which Naresh described as “spectacular and well worth the hike to get there.” Of course, be prepared for cold temperatures. A light dusting of snow on the mountains and some lupines still blooming made for an unforgettable hike.

 

Shasta Cascade

Ruth Hartman reports from Coffee Creek in Trinity County (Shasta Cascade) that color this past week’s cold snap got dogwood turning red and varigated green along Hwy 3 in Trinity County at 3000′. You’ll find it while heading north along the Slate grade, two miles before Tannery Gulch campground. Odd, but we’re seeing the same with planted dogwood at 800′ in elevation, east of Sacramento in El Dorado Hills.

Southern California

Gingko Biloba, Long Beach (9/23/17) Trent Vierra

Liquidambar, Long Beach (9/23/17) Trent Vierra

Trent Vierra interrupted his morning bike ride, yesterday, to snap a couple of shots of gingko biloba and liquidambar brightening up along 1st St. in the Bluff Heights neighborhood of Long Beach, and commented that he’s been noticing change in color among these exotic species.

That’s typical of liquidambar, though the gingkos tend to keep to a more regular schedule. Still, Trent scores the first “First Report” for Long Beach. While doing that, he also got a shot of a Maine license plate beside emerging California Fall Color… double score.

 

 

 

 

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It All Begins at 1:02 p.m. Today

Autumn begins throughout California at 1:02 p.m.

That’s when the autumnal equinox occurs, starting a new astronomical season. At that moment, the sun’s rays are almost equally divided between the northern and southern hemisphere.

Thereafter and continuing to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, days get shorter and colder, as the amount of sunlight reaching the northern hemisphere declines.

Less light results in less chlorophyll being produced in deciduous plants. As the green chlorophyl subsides underlying brown, red, orange and yellow colors are seen. Colder temperatures also intensify red, orange and yellow colors. Though, eventually, the leaves weaken and fall.

Autumn is the only season with two names: Autumn and Fall. It gets the latter from those falling leaves.

Many believe California’s best weather occurs in autumn. Days remain clement, but nights are cooler. There’s a crispness in the air, but also a soothing envelopment that almost feels as if you’re being embraced by the season.

Why is it that there is such celebration when pumpkin-spiced lattes return to cafe menus in autumn?  Is it their taste, or the recollections of this gathering season that they inspire?

Autumn is the season of harvest, reunion, tailgating, wine making, costume parties, sweaters and thanksgiving. Though it would not be what it is, without Fall.

Over the past couple of days, snow has fallen in the High Sierra. Several of you have asked what effect the early snow might have on autumn color. The answer is: “Little to No Effect.”

Snow usually only damages the change of color on leaves that have turned color or have nearly turned color. Leaves that are vibrant and still producing chlorophyl shake off a little snow with no effect on the color. However, were the same to occur at an elevation that was near peak to peak, leaves in the process of turning would either be spotted or blown from their branches.

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Will Ridgeway took these photographs near Rock Creek Pack Station yesterday morning.

He writes that “The snow on green Aspen leaves makes it look like we’re going straight from Summer to Winter, though that’s temporary.

“That said, there was a good amount of colour above Lake Sabrina this morning, roughly equal parts green, yellow and orange depending on the location of each grove.” he describes.

Lake Sabrina – Near Peak (75-100%) – Will Ridgeway rates the upper groves high above Sabrina Lake near 10,000′ in elevation as nearing peak. GO NOW!

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County (9/22/17) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County – Patchy (10-50%) – Color spotter Bruce Wendler found “the first fire of autumn” lighting the hills around Sagehen Meadow, south of Mono Lake. Frigid temperatures are stimulating vibrant color change in high areas of Mono County.

Unidentified exotic tree, Downtown LA near Fig Plaza (9/21/17) Mohammad Delwar

Los Angeles – Just Starting (0-10%) – Often what appears to be autumnal change is not exactly the same thing. Del Hossain saw this blooming tree in downtown Los Angeles yesterday and had the presence of mind to photograph it and ask if it might be fall color.

This is one of the myriad of non-native (or exotic) trees that have been planted in our urban forests. It has a flower or seed pod (similar to a Bougainvillea bloom) that Del described as “a splash of pinks, reds,or orangish”.

What is most important is that Del turned a break while working in the heart of Los Angeles (Downtown Magnets High School – Go Suns!) into an inspirational fall color sojourn.  Fall color creds to anyone who can identify the tree, and to Del for sharing.

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Pointillistic Impressionism at Autumn’s End

Anita Baldwin amidst fallen Gingko leaves, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

On this final day of autumn, we share these artistic images of late fall color seen at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, which scores autumn’s last Peak of the Week.

Frank McDonough’s photographs of the scene remind us of the pointillistic impressionist paintings of Georges Seurat or Paul Signac, as points of bright fall color compose each scene.

This is likely the last post of what has been a beautiful fall. Autumn color will continue to peak this month at California’s lowest elevations, with the best variety of color to be seen in the state’s arboretums and botanic gardens.

Though, in the event we don’t report again this year, “See you next autumn, dude.”

Gingko biloba, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

Horse chestnut, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

Gingko biloba, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

Japanese maple, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

Gingko biloba, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

Daimyo oak, upper Baldwin Lagoon, LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden (12/16/16) Frank McDonough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, Arcadia – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Peak of the Week: Making Room for Schrooms

Pluteus spp (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Pluteus spp (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Bolbitus titubans (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Bolbitus titubans (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Ink cap [Corinus lagopus] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Ink cap [Corinus lagopus] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

honey mushroom [Armillaria mellea] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

honey mushroom [Armillaria mellea] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Deadly Galerina [Galerina marginata] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

Deadly Galerina [Galerina marginata] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

False turkey tail [Stereum ostrea] (11/16/16) Gabriel Leete

False turkey tail [Stereum ostrea] (11/15/16) Gabriel Leete

Gabriel Leete makes room for mushrooms in autumn.

The Shasta Cascade color spotter enjoys searching the woods for edible and otherwise fascinating mushrooms.

He sends back these images taken this week near Anderson. Recent rains have helped encourage mushroom hunting in the Shasta Cascade, which we declare to be Peak of the Week.

Gabriel writes (drawing text from Wikipedia searches for his descriptions) that the Pluteus are wood-decomposing saprobes with gills that are free from the stem and pink spore prints. These were found growing upon wood chips.

Bolbitius titubans, also known as Bolbitius vitellinus, is a widespread specie of inedible mushroom found in American and Europe.  It grows primarily on dung or heavily fertilized soil, sometimes on grass.

Ink cap (Coprinus lagopus) is a specie of fungus in the family Psathyrellaceae. It is a delicate and short-lived fungus, the fruit bodies lasting only a few hours before dissolving into a black ink – a process called deliquescence.

Armillaria mellea, commonly known as honey fungus, is a basidiomycete fungus in the genus Armillaria. It is a plant pathogen and part of a cryptic species complex of closely related and morphologically similar species.

Deadly Galerina is exactly as described… it is poisonous. Galerina marginata is a specie of poisonous mushroom in the family Hymenogatraceae of the order Agaricales. The specie is a classic “little brown mushroom“—a catchall category that includes all small to medium-sized, hard-to-identify brownish mushrooms, and may be easily confused with several edible species.

False turkey tail looks like one, doesn’t it?  That’s because of the concentric circles of many colors seen on the Stereum ostrea specie. This variety is a wood decay fungus that grows on tree bark. Native to North America, it grows year round.

Caution: do not eat wild mushrooms, unless you are expert at identifying them, as many poisonous varieties resemble their edible cousins.

Mushroom Hunting, Shasta Cascade – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Partly Cloudy
Thursday
Partly Cloudy
High 69°/Low 49°
Partly Cloudy
Friday
Partly Cloudy
High 67°/Low 47°
Mostly Cloudy
Saturday
Mostly Cloudy
High 64°/Low 52°
Rain
Sunday
Rain
High 57°/Low 42°

 

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Peak of the Week: Redding

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Sacramento River Trail (11/1/16) Shanda Ochs

Redding is unusual for a city, in that a major natural area passes through its center. That natural area is the Sacramento River.

Preserved green space flanks each side of the river to provide some flood protection to the city, preserve the riparian environment and provide a corridor of recreation.

The Sacramento River Trail is this week’s Hike of the Week.

It is a National Recreation Trail with miles of biking, walking and running path, Turtle Bay Exploration Park with its children’s discovery museum, museum of art, history and nature, wildlife discovery museum, a riparian forest tree walk, the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens (that focuses on California native plants) and lots of natural fall color.

The trail travels from scenic Shasta Dam at Shasta Lake, 17.4 miles to Sundial Bridge in Redding.

Sundial Bridge is one of three scenic and historic bridges that cross the river. Designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, Sundial Bridge is an actual working sundial, casting its towering shadow across an arc from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is not accurate in winter, however, as its shadow is too far into the adjacent arboretum to be seen.

When the bridge’s shadow is visible, it moves at a rate of one foot per minute. The remarkable, steel, glass and granite structure evokes a sense of weightlessness, and its translucent glass deck glows blue green at night.

The bridge’s cable-stayed, 217-foot pylon supports the bridge, allowing spawning grounds for salmon beneath the bridge to remain untouched.

Other bridges along the trail include the 1915 Diestelhorst Bridge – first to cross the Sacramento River – and a 418-foot stress ribbon bridge, the first of its kind in America.

Snow has curtailed color spotter Shanda Ochs’ reporting from Lassen Volcanic National Park, but encouraged her to explore the Sacramento River Trail and return with this report.

Shanda notes that some remaining fall color can be seen at Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic, though the park is mostly past peak.  Nevertheless, she found lots to enjoy along the Sacramento River Trail in Redding’s Caldwell Park.

Most of the trees there are non-native, though there are Frémont cottonwood, bigleaf maple, Oregon ash and willow among them. The color ranges from bold red-orange to splashes of yellow and gold. The river bank is inhabited mostly by native oak woodland and though we rate Redding as peaking, the color should continue develop for a week or two more.

Redding – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Peak of the Week: Indian Creek

Black Oak, Indian Valley, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Black Oak, Indian Valley, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek, Plumas County (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Indian Creek (10/26/16) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Creek in Plumas County (Northern Sierra) is painted with color with Indian rhubarb at full brilliance, dogwood and bigleaf maple showing pink and yellow and black oak beginning to turn bright orange.

Indian Creek, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!