Trees of Heaven Showing First Gold at 1,000 ft.

Ailanthus and Manzanita, Sacramento River Trail (10/10/2011) © 2011 John Poimiroo

From Shasta Dam to Redding along the Sacramento River Trail, Trees of Heaven (Ailanthus) are showing first gold at elevation 1,000 ft in the Shasta Cascade.

The non-native Trees of Heaven were imported from China to be planted beside the river in the 1930s along with other colorful exotic plants, such as pink flowering oleander (Morocco), to prevent erosion of the hillsides as the railroad leading to the dam was constructed.   Today, the native forest of manzanita brush, knobcone pine, tanoak, madrone and ponderosa pine is filled with Ailanthus, particularly beside the trail which was the original railroad route.

Two other outdoor writers, representatives of the Bureau of Land Management and I toured this national recreation trail yesterday, during an Outdoor Writers Association of California conference in Redding.  And, though the photo at left shows a specimen of Ailanthus as bright green, many Trees of Heaven throughout BLM’s forest were turning yellow, providing pleasant contrast to the blue-grey-green leaves and deep red trunks of the native manzanita.

Travel Tip: Bring a bike to ride the Sacramento River Trail downhill from Shasta Dam to Redding (19 mi) or ride sections.  Bikes can also be rented on weekends in Redding near Sundial bridge.  The color should be glowing in coming weeks, weather permitting.

Here’s more from color spotter Katie Shaw about what’s happening in the Shasta Cascade region of northeast California:

Butte County:

0-15%- Butte County- Color is now appearing in the spectacular urban forests of Chico, seen in its gingko’s, sycamores, and aspen, with yellow to reddish hues.

Shasta County:

0-15% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area- This national park isn’t experiencing significant change as yet, except for non-native trees, and a few native bigleaf maple. The few aspen in the park are just now starting to change.

0-15%- MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park– Though not much color had appeared until Monday, the sudden cold snap followed by warm daytime temps is just what locals say was needed to jump-start the color change.  Park officials are predicting colors and foliage will be changing soon, so stay tuned.

Tehama County:

0-15%- Lassen Volcanic National Park– The aspen in the Warner Valley are starting to change to vibrant yellow to golden shades.  Drakesbad Guest Ranch has now closed for the season, though its last guests had the treat of being able to have this lovely corner of the national park almost to themselves with hikes among the changing aspen.

Lassen County:

0-15%- Bizz Johnson Trail-   Aspen along the Bizz Johnson Trail are now changing color with mostly green to lime-green and some yellow showing.

Siskiyou County:

0-15%- Mt. Shasta- The Mt Shasta area is not experiencing any change of color as yet, though the warm days and cool nights should intensify the color, quickly.

Trinity County:

0-15%- Weaverville- The historic gold rush town of Weaverville is just now showing change, especially in the Coffee Creek area.  They anticipate more color change, after yesterday’s rain showers.

Plumas County:

15-30% Plumas County- Plumas County remains one of the most spectacular places in the region to witness the signs of the changing seasons.  Leaf peepers have already started recording sightings, which can be viewed on the Plumas Visitors Bureau’s webpage (linked at left).

For a free leaf peeper kit, stop at any of the local chambers in Plumas County.  It includes recommendations on scenic drives.

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  1. […] California Fall Color posted a report for the Shasta Cascade region of northeast California reporting that fall color is still slow. Here are the brief highlights: […]

  2. […] saying that most of the area is showing only 0 to 15%  fall color. Read  the full report at California Fall Color 0.000000 0.000000 GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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