Milder Temps, More Water, Less Wind = Great Color

Milder temperatures, more water and less wind have contributed to one of the most colorful autumns on record for Southern California, the Los Angeles Times posted on its online Living section, yesterday.  Reporter Roy Rivenburg found that with few Santana winds blowing their hot air across the southland, this autumn, more leaves were left on branches, and with more rain and cooler temps, those leaves have provided longer lasting color.  With four days left in Autumn, the show continues down south and is in its last moments up north, making 2010 a record year for autumn color in California.

CLICK HERE to read the article.

Happening’ in Sac Town

Gingko - P Street, Sacramento - Barbara Steinberg (12/11/10)

Color spotter and travel writer Barbara Steinberg saw this gingko tree on P Street in Sacramento this past Saturday.  She was so determined to get a shot of this colorful specimen that she returned with her camera the next day to take this shot.  Bravo for your persistence, Barbara!

Mid December, Yet LA County Continues to Glow with Fall Color!

Impressed by this autumn’s long-lasting display of fall color, Los Angeles Times reporter Roy Rivenburg called yesterday to ask if this autumn is unusual for its duration.  It sure is.  The color arrived late just about everywhere across the state and generally has been spectacular throughout, with wet weather hardly shortening or lessening this year’s gorgeous display.

This past week, I spent several days in the Napa Valley and was impressed by the glowing displays of yellow, orange and red vineyards in the Carneros District, east of Napa, the beautiful fall color to be found among Downtown Napa’s historic Victorian mansions, and the bright yellow big leaf maple to be seen poking its flickering branches between oaks and evergreens at the Meadowood Resort east of St. Helena.

Photo of the Month on the Ventura County Trails website depicts fall color along the floor of the Upper Sycamore Canyon in Point Mugu State Park.  Color Spotter Grant Roden of Elk Meadow Cabins at Redwood National and State Parks says he’s been following Tweets from this group about the great and long-lasting fall color they’ve been seeing on their hikes throughout Southern California.

California’s urban forests continue to show impressively.  From the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden comes this video of fall color to be seen this December at the arboretum.


Japan Town Cherry Tree Planting

Friends of the Urban Forest will be planting 45 flowering cherry trees in San Francisco’s Japan Town on Saturday, Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  To participate in the volunteer effort, contact Sally Bentz at 415-268-0783 or  Instruction on proper tree planting will occur at 9 a.m.

A Feast of Thanksgiving Day Color

A cornucopia of color among Napa's vines (File Photo) - John Poimiroo

The vibrant colors of autumn will be spread across dining room tables today, throughout California, as families and friends gather to commemorate their Thanksgiving Day.  The weather today will be clear and crisp… a good day to venture out bundled up for a cold autumn walk to enjoy the last glimpses of what has been a long-lasting fall color season.

California’s three-month display of fall color has now descended to sea level.  As, above 2,000 ft, particularly in Northern California, there’s a blanket of snow and ice.  Look for vibrant colors in Northern and Southern California city forests, the parks and landscaped boulevards that provide such varied displays of fall color.  Fall color showed a bit later and has been longer lasting than in the past two years.  The Napa and Sonoma County vineyards still have splashes of red, orange and yellow, though most of the autumn color has dropped.

So many varieties of colorful plants glow in this Mediterranean climate, that California has truly earned title as the having the longest-lasting and most diverse display of autumn color in America.  The display began even before the autumnal equinox, in the high reaches of the Eastern Sierra and has, since, descended at an approximate pace of dropping a thousand feet in elevation, since.  And so, unlike other areas of the country where if you weren’t there exactly when it turned, the color disappeared, in California color can be seen peaking at various elevations from mid September through mid December.

75% to Past Peak — Urban Forests.  Bold, orange persimmon fruit hang from their trees’ branches in urban and suburban gardens.  Liquidambar styraciflua put on their firey appearance.  Chinese pistache are largely past peak now, though an occasional specimen still carries its orange to yellow leaves.  The vines, wisteria and parthenocissus are turning soft yellow to blends of red, orange gold amidst the green, to provide the final flashes of color in this Golden State.

This blog marks the final official California Fall Color posting of 2010’s autumn.  We will likely add other occasional reports on California color, as they are received (such as our mid winter report on desert flowers), but like the autumn leaves, we’re now Past Peak.  Our thanks to all those California color spotters who reported color appearing in their area of California.  Please return to visit us again next autumn.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Like a Volcano, Shasta Cascade’s Color has Blown

Cascade Theater, Redding (11/4/09) - John Poimiroo

Past Peak – Redding — Although exotic varieties are still showing yellow, orange and red beside city streets, most of the native color along the Sacramento River in Redding has blown.  Still, a great hike or bike ride is along the newly paved Sacramento River trail from Redding to Shasta Dam.  This concrete ribbon crosses Sundial Bridge and passes rapids and colorful riparian woodlands on its way to the dam.

Past Peak – Butte County — Most of the color is gone, though pockets of red maples and yellow oaks and dogwood are found in higher elevations.  Big storms predicted for this weekend should signal the end of the intense colors.

75-100% – Shasta County North Valley — Fall colors are still pretty vibrant. Brilliant reds, oranges and yellows are splashed across the valley floor.  The ornamentals are showing at about 95-100%.  Most of the trees that typically show gold/yellow have lost their leaves.

75-100% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area — The colors around Whiskeytown have increased to about 80%, mostly yellow and some orange.   With consistent cold weather and rain coming the colors will intensify and peak quickly now.

Past Peak – Burney Falls State Park — The fall colors up in Burney have passed their peak now but beautiful winter scenery will be upon us soon.

Past Peak – Lassen Volcanic National Park — Colors are waning in the park but there are still a few pockets of yellow and orange along Hwy.36 north to Hwy 3 into Shasta County.

Past Peak – Lassen National Forest – The fall show is over but snowy Christmas scenes are right around the corner.

Past Peak – Modoc National Forest – There is snow in the higher elevations now, so fall colors are past peak, but the snowy scene provides new reason to travel there.

Past Peak – Trinity County — Some yellow and orange remains in the oaks to be seen around the Hwy 3 loop, but most of the trees in Trinity County are now past peak.

This will likely be the final fall color report from the Redding/Shasta Cascade region, which experienced one of the most lovely fall color seasons in memory.

Past Peak, Past Peak, Peaking

This weekend will bring the first major “winter” storm to California and although fall doesn’t end for another month (until December 21), the turn in temperatures and weather will make Thanksgiving Day week seem in the minds of many Californians, to mark the end of autumn.

This coming winter storm does not mean that incredible fall scenery will no longer be seen across the Golden State.  Just click on Michael Frye’s blog (to the left) and view his impressive photograph of black oak leaves peaking through snow, to see what I mean.  Autumn at this time of year requires special vision.  Give up looking for those bold splashes of red, orange and yellow against deep blue skies and find satisfaction instead in the subtle beauty to be found in the more muted colors of dying leaves reflected upon wet city streets, as that’s where the show has moved.

It’s past peak above 2,000′, but below that the color is still peaking, especially in California’s diverse urban forests… Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area and in exotic pockets of urban Southern California.

So, enjoy the weekend storms and do not be discouraged by the elements.  There is wonder to be found where you least expect it.

Autumn Hikes With Your Dog

DogTrekker, the email newsletter for northern Californians who seek advice on traveling with their dogs, recommends November as an ideal month for autumn walks with Rover.  Today’s edition recommends trails in the East Bay, South Bay, along the newly completed Sacramento River Trail in Redding, along the South Yuba Independence Trail, and in Marin County at Fort Baker on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.  We’ve seen fall color in each of those areas, but even if it isn’t showing when you’re walking your dog, it’s a good day anyway, because you’ve got your best friend with you!

To receive DogTrekker, CLICK HERE.

Hope Valley Video

This was posted on YouTube two weeks ago, but it shows some of the color seen then in this beautiful part of California.  Jack Durst provides good information about the Hope Valley near Lake Tahoe, photographing fall color and how fall color develops.


Peaking in Plumas – Golden Harvest at Indian Creek

Indian Creek, Plumas National Forest (11/3/10) - Richard McCutcheon

Color spotter Richard McCutcheon sends these magical shots of golden light and color along Indian Creek seen above Taylorsville, California in the Plumas National Forest.   CLICK HERE to join Richard McCutcheon on his virtual journey to Antelope Lake (when the website opens, click “Start Slideshow”).

Plumas County is at the southeast corner of California’s vast Shasta Cascade region, an area of forests, lakes, volcanoes and wilderness larger than the state of Ohio, but lightly populated.  It is a favorite destination for California leaf peepers.  As a service to leaf peepers, the Plumas County Visitors Bureau staff will come out and clean your windshield should you stop by their offices during autumn.  CLICK HERE to see current photos from this colorful corner of California.

Plumas National Forest, on the way to Antelope Lake (11/3/10) - Richard McCutcheon

75-100% – Indian Creek — Aspen are at full peak in the Plumas National Forest along the Indian Creek drainage leading to Antelope Lake.  Brush and willows alongside the creek have flushed ruby and rose, with bright spots of yellow and green flecking the forest.

Indian Creek, Plumas National Forest (11/3/10) - Richard McCutcheon

Aspen, Plumas National Forest (11/3/10) - Richard McCutcheon

Plumas National Forest (11/3/10) - Richard McCutcheon