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Parade of Roses and Autumn

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Tournament of Roses, Pasadena (1/1/18) Frank McDonough

Each New Year’s Day, the world marvels at the amazing floral floats made for the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena.

What often isn’t seen in the worldwide coverage of the parade is the lingering fall color to be seen along the streets of Pasadena.

Los Angeles County color spotter Frank McDonough captured some of it and shares it with us.

Pasadena – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Three Season Peak

Hahamonga Watershed Park, Pasadena (12/21/17) Naresh Satyan

It’s now official. California’s fall color has now appeared in three seasons in 2017: summer, autumn and winter.

Color spotter Naresh Satyan did not let the first day of winter deter him from sending this shot of peak color seen this morning among willows in Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena, where river bed is still dressed in various stages of fall, er, um, well winter color.

He reports, “Unfortunately wind has been stripping leaves fairly quickly, but it still looks like Fall down here!”

Pasadena – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

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Condor Country – Los Padres Nat’l Forest

Piru Creek Crossing, Los Padres National Forest (10/21/17) Naresh Satyan

Black oak, Los Padres National Forest (10/21/17) Naresh Satyan

Black oak are about to peak in the Los Padres National Forest (north of the San Fernando Valley in Ventura County), Naresh Satyan reports.

His party spent a few days hiking Alamo Mountain (Gold Hill Rd. southwest of Gorman, off I-5, via Hungry Valley SVRA) to find blooming rabbitbrush painting lower elevations of the SVRA.

Naresh wrote that continuing along Gold Hill Rd., “a nice patch of color is seen at the Piru creek crossing. Higher up, between 5000′ and 7000′, black oaks are at peak amidst a mixed-pine forest.”

Now, that’s the quick guide. However, Naresh wrote that, for the most part, “one has to go looking for color,” as the black oaks are not seen in all locations.

Piru Creek, Los Padres National Forest (10/21/17) Naresh Satyan

However, he did see rattlesnakes, condors (the area borders the Sespe Condor Sanctuary – a 53,000-acre wildlife refuge in the Topatopa Mountains, in northeastern Ventura County), peregrine falcons, lots of hawks, quail, and smaller birds.

Unseen, but evident from their scat and tracks were “deer, bear, and mountain lions.” Naresh concluded they were likely hidden from view due to it being hunting season.

A word of caution: When fall color spotting in areas where hunting is common, avoid wearing camouflage clothing. Instead, a blaze orange item or bright clothing is advised (humans see it, but hunted animals do not).

Alamo Mountain (7,380′), Los Padres National Forest – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Piru Creek, Los Padres National Forest (10/21/17) Naresh Satyan

Black oak, Los Padres National Forest (10/21/17) Naresh Satyan

Black oak, mixed pine forest, Los Padres National Forest (10/23/17) Naresh Satyan

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Rim of the World: Visit the Lakes, Trails

Grass Valley Lake (10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Alena Nicholas spent Saturday exploring the lakes and trails that spur off from the Rim of the World Scenic Byway in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Lake Arrowhead (10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Black oak at Lake Arrowhead, Grass Valley Lake, Lake Gregory and nearby areas are at full peak speckling the forest with bold splashes of orange.

The San Bernardino range’s bigleaf maple, dogwood and aspen are now past peak, though observant spotters can find “color in pockets from Lake Arrowhead down to Crestline.”

Exotic maples, sycamore and liquidambar are also providing bright color in planted neighborhoods.

Big Bear Lake has peak color among its oaks, as well. Though, the aspen and dogwood are past peak. Here are some upcoming events at Big Bear:

  • Oct. 28 – Spartan Race
  • Nov. 3 & 4 – Big Bear Comedy Festival

Elsewhere in Southern California, Ryan Lumb reported that he had anticipated seeing Peak color on Mt. San Gorgonio (11,503′), but was disappointed to find it mostly Past Peak. And, Walnut color spotter Del Hossain had a frustrating trip to the Eastern Sierra, visiting locations that had already been reported here as being Past Peak.

Advice to readers: check this site the week before you travel to see reports from places you’ll be visiting.  If the latest report for the location is peak color, by the time you travel it may be past peak. Peak color lasts only from a week to a few minutes at any given location, depending upon conditions (wind, rain, snow, overcast).

Always look at the date the photograph was taken. As, what you are seeing happened often days before. What you might see now or in a few more days will be very different than what’s shown in any photo. So, get there as fast as you can whenever we report “GO NOW!”

If there’s no report from the location you plan to visit, check locations at similar elevations near where you plan to visit. As, it’s likely the color at that latitude and elevation will similar.

Finally, if you don’t like what you’re seeing at a given location (because it’s almost Past Peak), then don’t go there. Instead, consider traveling somewhere else that’s shown nearing peak or having just peaked, as it will provide the best viewing experience.

We are grateful to Ryan and Del for their reports, as they will surely help others avoid missing the best color.

This is likely the last week of great color above 3,000′ in Southern California, as reports are now descending to locations in the valleys and basins of the southland.

Rim of the World, San Bernardino Mountains (5,174′) – Peak (75-100%) – GO NOW!

Grass Valley Lake (10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Grass Valley Lake (10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Grass Valley Lake (10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Arrowhead 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas

Lake Gregory 10/21/17) Alena Nicholas