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One Fine Day

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Veterans Memorial, Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Superior Court, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Yesterday was one fine day in Quincy.

I got there about noon, and it was beautiful. I could see, however, that it would get better in the afternoon. Regretably, I had a schedule to keep that didn’t involve staying that long.

Michael Beatley didn’t have the same restriction and got there in the late afternoon, to capture Quincy at its best.

Plumas County’s fall color is everywhere you drive, right now. It rolls over ridges and down hillsides in avalanches of muted orange, auburn and yellow.

Along the highways that wind through Plumas National Forest, sparkling splashes of bright, lemony yellow and deep gold appear at every turn.

Emerging black oak are a blend of evolving green, yellow and orange leaves.

Country villages like Greenville glow from the iridescent glow of giant yellow Fremont cottonwood and neighborhoods pop with spots of red.

As for Quincy, I was lucky to be there on one fine day (my photos will appear in a separate post).

Towers of foliage glowed crimson, orange, electric yellow and lime across the town’s skyline on approach. Once in town the color was everywhere, though, the Thieler Tree, Quincy’s famous sugar maple, had just passed Peak. Its red and orange leaves had curled and were decorating the corner of Lee Way and West High St.

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Courthouse Park, Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

Peak color will continue to be seen through this week, but will weaken slowly throughout town as more leaves fall.

Plumas County, on the other hand, has two more weeks of peak, conditions permitting.

  • Quincy – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Quincy (10/21/18) Michael Beatley

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Hike of the Week: Cascade Trail

Cascade Trail (10/21/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Cascade Trail (10/21/18) Ravi Ranganathan

In summer, Plumas County’s Cascade Trail is a short hike to swimming holes. In autumn, it’s a favorite hike to fall color reflected in Spanish Creek.

Ravi Ranganathan hiked this popular trail on Friday and found it “filled with beautiful colors. I hiked ‘til the point where I could find a couple of wooden bridges. Looking down, the view of the stream was amazing with the fall colors reflected with gold.”

Five small falls comprise the cascade along the trail, which is easy and a mile in length. Take CA-70 west 5.1 miles from Quincy; turn right at Old Highway and follow a paved road .7 mi. past several homes, turn left onto a dirt road and travel .4 mi to a rocky parking area.

The trail is mostly wide and level though narrows at points and can be slippery. It was built originally to transport water for hydraulic mining and was later used as a supply road for the Western Pacific RR.

Cascade Trail is this week’s Hike of the Week.

  • Cascade Trail, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) Go Now!

Cascade Trail (10/21/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Cascade Trail (10/21/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Cascade Trail (10/21/18) Ravi Ranganathan

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Plumose Plumas

Community United Methodist Church, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County is absolutely beatific.

Peak fall color is brightening all its byways and Quincy, the county seat, has never looked better.

Michael Beatley, Phillip Reedy and Ravi Ranganathan have been working the byways, backroads and city streets of Quincy to show Plumas and its environs at plumose perfection.

Beatley describes Quincy as “gorgeous right now. Beautiful peak with blue skies, daytime temps low 70s, nights 25-32 degrees. The wonderful thing about Quincy, is that all its downtown power lines were buried years ago. No telephone poles. The whole town is full of beautiful foliage.”

To get this fabulous light, he was up at dawn to shoot historic Plumas Superior Courthouse and Community United Methodist Church bathed in color so angelic, it makes me want to genuflect.

Ravi began his photo safari in Quincy, but then traveled to Oakland Camp where “the rhubarbs were mirrored gloriously along Spanish Creek.”

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

The highlight of Ravi’s Plumas County fall color excursion was a hike along the Cascades Trail “with beautiful colors all along. I hiked ’til I came upon a couple of wooden bridges. Looking down, the view of the stream was amazing with the fall colors reflected with gold.” (First Report)

Ravi’s fall color expedition included stops at Thompson Lake, Bucks Lake and Big Creek Road, all “filled with aspen, oak and maple. He had used CaliforniaFallColor.com to research the places he wanted to photograph and gave a nod of thanks to Michael Beatley and Jeff Luke Titcomb for additional guidance and inspiration.

What Ravi accomplished in capturing in a short amount of time was nothing short of astonishing, hitting a number of Plumas highlights.

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Similar to Ranganathan’s photo tour, Reedy began in Quincy, then toured through the Lakes Basin and down Hwy 49 to Downieville along the north fork of the Yuba.

Phil said “Quincy looks lovely, although the maples at the courthouse still have a bit to go to reach full color. Perhaps another week will do it.” That’s good news for anyone reading this, as there’s a week to get there and still see it at peak, though as Ravi’s photographs show, aspen at Thompson Lake are dropping color.

One of the reasons Plumas County is such a great fall color destination is that a variety of trees show at one elevation in successive displays over about three weeks: first pink dogwood, then yellow aspen, then golden bigleaf maple, then multicolored exotics, and finally orange black oak.

Reedy said CA-70 from Quincy to Graeagle is showing “a lot of oaks at Peak color right now and very pretty. There are some aspens in the Lakes Basin area, but nothing too exciting when compared to areas like Hope Valley.”

Yuba River, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Salmon Creek, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Yuba River, Downieville (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Sardine Lake (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He continued, between 5,000 and 6,000′ along CA-49 east of Sierra City, “the aspens are definitely at peak or a bit beyond. Downstream between Sierra City and Downieville there are nice colors from big leaf maples, but I would guess another week will be needed to fully develop the colors.”

  • Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Road to Buck’s Lake (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Thompson Lake, Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Bucks Meadow, Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Keddie Wye, (10/19/18) Plumas County Ravi Ranganathan

Sugar maple, (10/19/18) Thompson Ranch, Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

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Redding Reddens

Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean

Redding saw a lot more red in late August than its residents wanted to see. The red was from the Carr Fire which burned 229,651 acres to the west and northeast of Redding, before it was contained. The fire devastated neighborhoods in the city’s northest corner and was the sixth-most destructive in California history.

So, it’s reassuring to see that a more welcomed type of red returning to Redding … fall color.

Redding is a central location from which to explore the Shasta Cascade (the northeast corner of UpStateCA). From Redding, roads spoke out to prime fall color viewing at Lassen Volcanic National Park, Plumas County, McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and Hat Creek, Coffee Creek and Scott Valley, Mt Shasta, Chester, Lake Almanor and Susanville, Weaverville, Red Bluff and Chico. Much of these areas are either now peaking or approaching peak.

Within its city limits, Redding is bisected by the Sacramento River which has beautiful riparian forests and wetlands. Across the length of California’s northernmost metropolis, Frémont cottonwood, black oak, Oregon ash California buckeye and blue oak grow beside the Sacramento River.

One of the best places to begin a Redding Fall Color adventure is at Sundial Bridge, Santiago Calatrava’s architectural masterpiece that spans the mighty Sacramento River, connecting Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens.

Many of Redding’s neighborhoods are forested with colorful exotic trees and several have breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and the Sacramento River. Redding color spotter Laura Jean sends these pictures of the welcomed color that has reddened Redding’s boulevards.

More about Redding and its nine fall color driving tours is found at VisitRedding.com

  • Redding – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Chinese pistache, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean

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Indian Rhubarb – Darmera

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

One of California’s most spectacular native plants is Darmera, or Indian Rhubarb.

With its large, umbrella formed, orange-red leaves, it is spectacular when contrasted with wild blue streams and lush riparian foliage in the Shasta Cascade.

Plumas County color spotter, Michael Beatley visited “Rock Creek in Meadow Valley, which flows into Spanish Creek, which flows into the North Fork of the Feather River, which flows into the Sacramento river and on to San Francisco Bay.” Rock Creek and Spanish Creek were gold mining creeks in the 1860s.

To get to the most colorful examples of Darmera beside these creeks, you’ll need to hike to them. Begin by driving six miles west of Quincy along Bucks Lake Road toward Meadow Valley.

“Just before the park,” Michael explains (which park, he never said – but we figure there must be only one), “turn left onto the USFS dirt road at the sign that reads, ‘Deans Valley, Meadow Camp 2 miles.’ At the bridge is Meadow Camp, a National Forest campground which lies beside Rock Creek.  Hike downstream.  There are no trails; forge your own. The Indian Rhubarb is at Peak and just Past Peak. Gold pan, if you like. Best time is 10 a.m., as the sun crests the tree tops hitting the water. The  campground is dry and free. The road is dirt, bumpy, but accessible by car. This is a hiking spot for fall color, not a drive by.”

I tried to find the camp on Google maps, but could not. You’ll have to trust Michael’s directions to find it. This may just be the time to pack along a copy of the 3rd Edition of NOLS Wilderness Navigation by Gene Trantham and Darran Wells.

It’s NOLS’ official guide to finding your way in the outdoors, since no bread crumbs were otherwise left by Michael to follow.

Indian rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley (10/18/18) Michael Beatley

  • Indian Rhubarb, Rock Creek, Meadow Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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Sampling Chips

Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

Bigleaf maple, Chips Creek, Ben Lomond Trail, Plumas County (10/18/18) Chico Hiking Association

The Chico Hiking Association dipped into Chips Creek along the Ben Lomond Trail (a section of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail) yesterday, to find bigleaf maple Patchy and black oak Just Starting.

Ben Lomond is an 7.9-mile, lightly trafficked, out-and-back trail beside Chips Creek, a tributary of the North Fork of the Feather River.

The trail is considered to be difficult with a 4,297-foot  gain along its length. Hikers rate it as excellent and scenic, though demanding.

The trailhead is in Beldon off CA-70 at the upper end of Rock Creek Reservoir (Feather River). After a short climb, the trail parallels Chips Creek. If you continue, it continues to climb, eventually descending to near the creek, which is a native trout stream.

Certainly, this isn’t a trail for casual color spotting, but for someone who wants a challenge, it’s rewarding. Therefore, for it’s beauty and challenge, the Ben Lomond Trail is named Hike of the Week.

Patchy bigleaf maple and black oak are seen along the hillsides and down to Chips Creek. There is nice gold and orange color among shrubs and small trees now (a wildfire burned the area in 2012), though the color will continue to improve over the coming two weeks.

  • Ben Lomond Trail, Chips Creek (2,400′) – Patchy (10-50%)

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Meadow Valley Morn

 

Pacific dogwood, Bigleaf maple, Black oak, Meadow Valley (10/16/18) Michael Beatley

Aspen, Meadow Valley (10/16/18) Michael Beatley

Black oak, Meadow Valley (10/16/18) Michael Beatley

Manzanita, Meadow Valley (10/16/18) Michael Beatley

Dogwood, Meadow Valley (10/16/18) Michael Beatley

Mornings are golden in Meadow Valley, Plumas County color spotter Michael Beatley reports.

Michael shot pictures  along Big Creek Rd,  just west of Meadow Valley in Plumas County.  It is the lower road to Bucks Lake. Turn Left at the split in the road where the sign reads, “Bucks Lake via Big Creek Rd for RVs.” The road is populated with bigleaf maple, Pacific dogwood, black oak, and some quaking aspen.

As Beatley’s photographs show, this nine-mile road to Bucks Lake is gorgeous and “worth the drive.” Intense purple, orange, red, yellow, vermillion, gold, lime, pink and green tones, illuminated by shadowed light create magical results on a Meadow Valley morn.

Best time of the day to drive Big Creek Rd. is between 9 a.m. and noon. A 4WD vehicle is required. Accommodations may be obtained in Quincy (click the UpStateCA graphic below for guidance).

Plumas County is at Peak now and through the coming week. A trip to the Northern Sierra now is a must for anyone who’s never seen it at Peak.

  • Meadow Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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A Place With Alps

Coffee Creek, CA-3, Trinity County (10/16/18) Jeri Rangel

Bowerman Barn, Covnington Mill, Trinity County (10/16/18) Jeri Rangel

What place has alps, cowboys, an untamed river and empty roads that wind through the yellow-splashed wild?

Jeri Rangel found the answer as she drove California highway 3, with not a car or truck ahead or behind. She knew that those that are, pull over to let you pass. That is, if you’re in a hurry, and no one seems to be.

Along the highway, she passed corrals with horses grazing idly. Along the Trinity River, lemony bigleaf maple and rosy dogwood lit up the woods.

You’re on the highway to Alps they call Trinity, in a county of the same name, traveling the vast Shasta Cascade region of UpStateCA.

  • Trinity County (3,000′) – Patchy (10-50%)

 

 

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Ordered To Appear

Sugar maple, Thompson Ranch, LaPorte Rd., Quincy (10/14/18) Michael Beatley

The Thieler Tree, Quincy (10/14/18) Michael Beatley

You are hereby ordered to appear at the Plumas County Courthouse in Quincy to attest that trees surrounding the court are Near Peak.

Now that you have been duly served, what can you expect to see?

Towering maple, plane trees and elm, anytime from now through this weekend and the following week, depending on conditions. The trees will be glorious, carrying heavy loads of orange, red and lime.

Local color spotters Michael Beatley and Jeff Luke Titcomb report that Quincy’s most photographed maple, The Theiler Tree at the former residence of Judge Alan Theiler, is red-hot and not-to-be-missed. It’s on West High Street and Lee Way, behind the courthouse.

Other great spots to photograph in and surrounding Quincy, include Community United Methodist Church at 282 Jackson St. This white steepled church is backed by black oak, when at peak (it’s still early) are deep orange (seen below in the UpStateCA graphic).

Plumas County Courthouse, Quincy (10/14/18) Michael Beatley

Plumas County Courthouse, Quincy (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Spanish Creek at Oakland Camp (10/14/18) Michael Beatley

Thompson Lake, near Bucks Lake, Plumas County (10/15/18) Michael Beatley

Along LaPorte Rd. look for Thompson Ranch and its landmark sugar maple, which is now peaking. In fact all the sugar maples in town are a rich orange-cream color.

The Indian rhubarb at Spanish Creek in Oakland camp are now peaking at 3,500′, so get there quick to see their bright red-orange umbrella-shaped leaves reflected in the creek’s still waters.

More reflections of aspen are seen at Thompson Lake west of Quincy near Buck’s Lake.

Jeff Luke Titcomb said most of Plumas County’s fall color backroads can be driven in a normal passenger vehicle. To prove it, he sent a photo of his classic Cadillac DeVille that he drove on a spotting trip to Round Valley.

He described, “The road away from Almanor is gravel and well maintained. Some days, though, you’ll be sharing it with logging trucks. The color down in the ravines is full of dogwoods and the springs are running pretty strong with lots of yellow maples, the oaks are coming on too, now. You will need to stop and explore the canyon’s full of color, which is getting very strong now.”

Be sure to appear by your appointed court date and time (not to late in the day), or you could miss Peak color in and around Quincy.

  • Quincy (3,432′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

 

Dogwood, Plumas County (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple, Plumas County (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple and willow, Plumas County (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Plumas County Courthouse  (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Quincy, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Quincy, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Sugar maple, Quincy, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Sugar maple, Quincy, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Sugar maple, Plumas County (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Plumas County (10/13/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Plumas County Courthouse  (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Quincy, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

 

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California’s Crater Lake

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

Crater Lake Campground, Plumas County (10/14/18) Jason Paine

California has a Crater Lake, too.

It’s not as big, as deep or as blue as Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park, but unlike the national park, hardly anyone is ever there.

It’s Crater Lake Campground in Lassen National Forest near Susanville.

The campground has 17 sites that rent for $10 each.

Groves of peaking aspen ring the lake, as shown in these shots in this First Report on Crater Lake submitted by Jason Paine.

Best of all, by camping there in autumn, you can say you visited Crater Lake and had it all to yourself.

  • Crater Lake Campground (6,929′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!