California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Virginia Lakes Ringed With Gold

     Posted on September 25, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Virginia Lakes, Mono County (9/24/16) Bob Weaver

Virginia Lakes, Mono County (9/24/16) Bob Weaver

The Virginia Lakes near Conway Summit are now ringed with gold and peaking, as captured by color spotter Bob Weaver, yesterday.

Virginia Lakes (9,770′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

Camping in the Eastern Sierra

     Posted on September 23, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Convict Lake Campground (Date Unknown) I Love The Eastern Sierra

Convict Lake Campground (Date Unknown) I Love The Eastern Sierra

Blogger Kimberly Wilkes of I Love The Eastern Sierra recommends 15 campgrounds near or surrounded by fall color.

We’ve reported about color to be seen at these campgrounds and know the recommendations to be sound.

CLICK HERE to read Kimberly’s recommendations.

Autumn Arrives

     Posted on September 22, 2016 by John Poimiroo

firstdayoffall

The autumnal equinox marks the official change of seasons today, though fall color has been reported since August.

That does not mean an earlier autumn. The change of seasons is fairly consistent in California.

Last year, peak was first reported on Sept. 24, this year on Sept. 21. OK, we reported peak three days earlier, but that may have been more a result of who reported what, than that peak was actually earlier. It could have peaked earlier last year, we just didn’t get a report documenting it.

What is consistent is that peak usually occurs within a week of what occurred historically. That means, though you may see one area being reported as peaking, other nearby areas will peak soon thereafter.

We’ve received anxious questions about a given trail or area (news of the color at Lundy Lake has been hotly anticipated of late). If we’re not reporting an area that you want to visit, that’s because no one has sent a report about it, but it does not mean the area has or has not peaked.

We depend on reports submitted by volunteer color spotters and local tourism offices; they don’t always get to every location.

One way to estimate peak in a non-reported area is to follow reports from areas in the same region at similar elevations. The area you want to visit will likely be peaking about the same time as a reported area in the same region and at the same elevation.

#FirstDayofFall is trending on Twitter with over 152,000 tweets as of the posting of this blog. So, there’s high interest in the season and more reports are sure to follow.

If you’d like to be part of the trend, send photos and descriptions to editor@californiafallcolor.com

Sagehen Meadows Peaks – GO NOW!

     Posted on September 21, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Meadows leads the Eastern Sierra with a peak rating for its brightly colored groves of auburn, orange, gold, yellow and lime aspen.  For its singular position, Sagehen Meadow earns this week’s selection as “Hike of the Week.”

Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes Road (9/19/16) Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes Road (9/19/16) Mono County Tourism

Dunderberg Meadow Road (9/19/16) Mono County Tourism

Dunderberg Meadow Road (9/19/16) Mono County Tourism

Conway Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Conway Summit (9/20/16) Mono County Tourism

Aurora Canyon (9/16/16) Mono County Tourism

Aurora Canyon (9/16/16) Mono County Tourism

To get there, head to Mono County. Then take CA-120 east from U.S. 395 toward Old Benton. Between Navy Beach at Mono Lake and Old Benton is Sagehen Meadows, an area famous for its aspen. Views of Banner Peak, the Mono Craters, Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra entertain you on the drive to and from Sagehen Meadows Road.

Other locations with Near Peak color in Mono County are Virginia Lakes and Upper Rock Creek.

Here’s a rundown on what fall color can be seen in Mono County.

Sagehen Meadow: Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – If the sprawling groves of brilliant orange aspens weren’t enough reason to go, the views of Banner Peak and the Sierra Nevada, as well as Mono Lake, are well worth the drive! Stop at the Mono Mills Historic Site on the way out or back for a picnic, and, of course, the South Tufa Reserve to walk the out-of-this-world shores of Mono Lake.

Rock Creek & Virginia Lakes Road: Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – These high elevation areas are filling in with brilliant yellows and a few oranges. Swing by the Virginia Lakes Resort or Rock Creek Lake Resort (closed this weekend for a wedding) for breakfast or lunch after you enjoy the colorful drive.

Convict Lake, Conway Summit, Green Creek & Summers Meadow: Patchy (10-50%) – Start planning now so you don’t miss the colors in these areas! Although they are lime-green now, it should only be another week or two before colors are peaking.

June Lake Loop, Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Lake, Walker/Coleville, Monitor Pass, Mammoth Lakes : Just Starting (0-10%) – While there is a little bit of activity up high, for the most part these areas are still mostly green with the occasional lime green or small patch of yellow. Likely a few weeks from significant color change. Stay tuned, and start planning for some time in October.

View the fall colors by horseback with one of the pack stations (please call for availability), soar over the colors with Skytime Helicopter Tours (fall & winter flight promotion: over 30% off 40-minute flights, additional discounts for groups of 4 or more), take the wheel on a High Sierra Jeep Adventure to access the secret, OHV-only fall color locations, or stick to smoother roads and enjoy fall color stops between beer tastings on with Eastern Sierra Brewery Tours!

Upcoming events:

Worth A Thousand Words – Bishop Creek

     Posted on September 21, 2016 by John Poimiroo
North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/21/16) Krisdina Karady

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/21/16) Krisdina Karady

There are probably a thousand words in this report, but a picture – particularly one taken by Krisdina Karady – is worth all of them.

As her photos show, Bishop Creek has moved to Near Peak in the past week.  Here’s the analysis by Jared Smith, with photos from Karady’s Kustom Art.

Overall Conditions Above 8500ft Elevation – Near Peak (50% – 75%) – The color has really come on since last week in the higher elevations with many of the popular fall color areas quickly nearing peak fall color. There are still plenty of areas and groves that are mostly green, but we’re certainly in the “Go Now!” zone with enough spectacular color to keep most photographers entertained. We have a bit of wind forecasted to come through this week but only time will tell if there is any affect on the color.

Overall Conditions Between 7500ft & 8500ft Elevation – Just Starting (0% – 10%) – Slightly more yellow is popping off lower down in the canyon but overall, things are still just starting down there.

Weir Pond, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Weir Pond, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Weir Pond (9650ft) – The canyon wall above the pond is mostly yellow now and a few of the aspen around the shoreline are now showing excellent color as well. We’re not quite to peak yet as many of the lower lying aspen are still a mix of green and yellow but things are currently gorgeous.

Sabrina Campground, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Sabrina Campground, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Sabrina Campground, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Sabrina Campground, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Sabrina Campground Area (9000ft) – The aspen along Hwy 168 are going off in a big way right now and are at or near peak. There’s still lots of green within the campground itself and along the stream, hence my “near peak” rating.

Parcher's Resort, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Parcher’s Resort, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Parcher's Resort, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Parcher’s Resort, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Parchers Resort (9260ft) – The canyon walls to the east and west of the resort are beaming with yellow, orange and rosy hues, as are many of the aspen on the resort grounds.

Patchy (10 – 50%)  – Willow Campground (9000ft) – This area is holding onto the green surprisingly long, which is out of the ordinary for this location and elevation. Views up canyon from the campground are beautiful but the campground and the aspen lining the road and the beaver pond or mostly lime green still. I would expect things to be much different next week.

Table Mountain, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Table Mountain, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50-75%) – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft) – The mountainside just down canyon from the campground is gorgeous exhibiting brilliant yellow and a touch of orange. The aspen along the creek are still mostly green but that should change within the next week.

Surveyor's Meadow, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Surveyor’s Meadow, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft) – There is a lot of color showing here, but there’s plenty of green too so this area is closer to 50% than 75%. Still, there are some plenty of photo-worthy views right now. Look for this to really go off in the next week to 10 days.

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Lake Sabrina (9150ft) – Lots of color showing at the lake, especially towards the back of the lake and all along the eastern shoreline.

Sabrina Approach, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Sabrina Approach, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Sabrina Approach (9100ft) – The approach to Sabrina and the small ponds below the dam are still mostly green with just touchy yellow. This is one of my favorite areas so I’m hopeful that things will pick up here over the next week.

Near Peak (50 – 75%) – North Lake (9255ft) – We’re nearing peak color on the approach to the lake and the groves on the mountainside above the lake are nearing peak as well. There is still a lot of green along the road, but things have really progressed quickly over the past week.

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Mist Falls, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft) – Still not much color happening just yet.

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Aspendell (8400ft) – Just a touch of yellow here and there in this neighborhood.

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Kristina Karady

Groves Above Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (9/20/16) Krisdina Karady

Near Peak (50 – 75%)  – Groves above Cardinal Village (8550ft) – The canyon slope from above Cardinal Village up to Cardinal Pinnacle has tons of color and is nearing peak color. Still, even though the hillside aspen are glowing, there is a lot of green down near the middle fork of Bishop Creek and surrounding Cardinal Village so this area will be extremely scenic for a couple weeks at least if the weather holds out.

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Four Jeffries (8000ft) – Nothing but a few yellow branches showing right now.

Patchy – (10 – 50%) – Intake II (8000ft) – The aspen surrounding the lake are turning to a light lime green but aside from that, just a few scrub aspen on the hillside have turned.

Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Big Trees Campground (7800ft) – Nothing but green here right now.

 

Mt. Palomar’s Black Oaks Start Their Show

     Posted on September 21, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Black oak, Mt. Palomar (9/18/16) John Caffrey

Black oak, Mt. Palomar (9/18/16) John Caffrey

Black oak, Mt. Palomar (9/18/16) John Caffrey

Black oak, Mt. Palomar (9/18/16) John Caffrey

Color spotter John Caffrey visited Mt. Palomar in San Diego County this past weekend, finding black oak showing a mix of green, gold and orange among the boulders. CLICK HERE to see his full joyride.com report.

Patchy (10-50%) – Mt. Palomar

Rock Creek Rocks – Go Now!

     Posted on September 21, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Rock Creek Pack Station (9/20/17) Josh Wray

Rock Creek Pack Station (9/21/17) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Rock Creek (9/21/16) Josh Wray

Bright orange peppers the east side of Rock Creek Road as you approach 8,000′. Thereafter, the creek is lined with bold splashes of yellow, Josh Wray reports from Mammoth Lakes.

GO NOW! Near Peak (50-75%) – Rock Creek 8,000+ft – Rock Creek is showing it’s brilliant display as usual for this time of year. The larger groves along the lower elevation section of the road have not changed but many small groves of aspen and willow are fiery orange on the east side of the road. Once you get above 8,000 ft the color really starts to pop. This canyon will continue to get better as the week progresses but don’t wait too long to get up there. In the case that you miss the high elevation at peak don’t forget that the lower sections of the road will start turning in the next couple of weeks. Upon arriving at Rock Creek Lake be sure to have your camera ready to capture the glowing orange aspens that crawl down into the lake. Hike up the first section of the Hilton Lakes Trail for an awesome viewpoint of the color.

Hwy 267 – Something for Everyone

     Posted on September 20, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Cabin, CA-267, North Lake Tahoe (9/20/16) John Poimiroo

Cabin, CA-267, North Lake Tahoe (9/20/16) John Poimiroo

Continuing the reports posted by Clayton Peoples and Kimberly Kolafa, I traveled to North Lake Tahoe today and stopped at the cabin beside Middle Martis Creek along CA-267, between Northstar and Brockway Summit. The aspen here have something for everyone, from deep green, to lime, to yellow to orange, to past peak.

There’s a lot of green in the woods, but also plenty of color to brighten the scene. This location should continue to provide color for at least two weeks.  There’s so much range of change that it’s difficult to rate it. Though, I’ll stick with Clayton’s assessment that it’s Near Peak, as that surely can be seen through most of the grove.

GO NOW! Near Peak (50-75%) – The Cabin at Middle Martis Creek, Truckee

Tahoe Ranges from Just Starting to Near Peak

     Posted on September 19, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Hwy 267, Lake Tahoe (9/18/16) Clayton Peoples

Hwy 267, Lake Tahoe (9/18/16) Clayton Peoples

Hwy 267, Lake Tahoe (9/18/16) Clayton Peoples

Hwy 267, Lake Tahoe (9/18/16) Clayton Peoples

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Fireweed, Tahoe Rim Trail (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Fireweed, Tahoe Rim Trail (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Maple Leaves, Tahoe Rim Trail (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Maple Leaves, Tahoe Rim Trail (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Tahoe Rim Trail, Barker Pass to Twin Peaks (9/18/16) Kimberly Kolafa

Lake Tahoe was the destination of color spotter Clayton Peoples this past weekend.  He reports, “In general, color extent varies considerably based on elevation. It is largely ‘just starting’ at lake level, but has progressed to ‘near peak’ in some higher elevations along the rim.”

Just Starting (0-10%) Lake Tahoe Lake Level (6,200 ft). Color is just beginning along the lake itself. Aspens are turning lime green, cottonwoods are getting some patches of yellow.

Patchy (10-50%) Lake Tahoe Mountainsides (6,200-7,000 ft). Color is beginning in patches in the aspen groves on the mountainsides along/near the Lake. 

Near Peak (50-75%) Specific Lake Tahoe Rim locations (7,000+ ft). Although still patchy in some places, some groves have really taken off and are near peak. This is especially true of the oft-visited grove on CA Hwy 267 near Brockway Summit. Portions of the grove are fully yellow, and the trees are dropping leaves. Will likely reach peak within the week.

“It’s all about the shrubbery,” Kimberly Kolafa reported after her weekend hike along the Tahoe Rim Trail, saying that fireweed, willow and maple are turning a mix of orange, red and gold amidst green.

 Patchy (50%)  Tahoe Rim Trail/PCT, Barker Pass Trailhead to Twin Peaks –  7650 -8700′, it’s all about the shrubbery, along the trail at your feet, up the sides of rocky volcanic plugs and high walls of slate and talus – fireweed, willow and maple are turning orange, red and gold, mixed with green.   You will also be delighted that there are a few wildflowers still in bloom and abundant views of Lake Tahoe on this 5 1/2 mile section hike to the base of Twin Peaks (10 miles round trip, you can hike a shorter distance and still see wonderful color).  Aspens and cottonwood are also beginning to make small changes, shrubbery is yellow on the seven mile Blackwood Canyon Road enroute to the Barker Pass Trailhead.

Sonora Pass Glitters

     Posted on September 18, 2016 by John Poimiroo
Sonora Pass, Leavitt Lake Turnoff (9/17/16) David Olden

Sonora Pass, Leavitt Lake Turnoff (9/17/16) David Olden

Photographer David Olden crossed Sonora Pass (CA-108) on Saturday to find it glittering with gold.

He was at the Leavitt Lake turn off, which at the center of the show, there. There are isolated patches of color near the summit, though he reports most of the pass is still lime green and just turning yellow.

CLICK HERE to read more of what he saw.

Patchy (10-50%) Sonora Pass, Leavitt Lake Turnoff.