A Cornucopia of Color

75-100% – Urban Forests – Urban areas throughout California are glowing colorfully in time for Thanksgiving Day.  Mild weather has contributed to keeping leaves and berries on the trees.  The colorful show has now descended among exotic trees to below 1,000 ft in elevation with Chinese pistache showing flame red, crabapples yellow to orange-red, Sycamores varying from chartreuse to burnt sienna, and plums radiating burgundy red.  Look for the color to continue through Thanksgiving week in the Sierra Foothills, Sacramento, Fresno and San Francisco Bay Area.

Pin Oak, Chinese Pistache, Crepe Myrtle flush in LA

Crepe Myrtle Show Their Color, LA Co. Arboretum (11/12/11) © 2011 Frank McDonough

50 – 75% – LA County Arboretum – Frank McDonough reports that of the trees to show color at the LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, half of their leaves have turned.  Visiting an arboretum is a great way to see what color appears on a tree and when it appears… useful in planning a garden.

Autumn Blaze, LA Co. Arboretum (11/12/11) © 2011 Frank McDonough


Shasta Cascade From Start to Finish

There’s a mixed report from the northeast corner of California, with color past peak at the highest elevations, peaking at mid elevations and still coloring up at lower elevations.

Butte County:

30-50%- Butte County- It’s going to be a late, but spectacular fall for Butte County. Reds and oranges are really beginning to POP, but the colors are in no hurry to leave. There are still quite a bit of greenery around, so head to Butte County if you are looking to enjoy the fall transition!

Shasta County:

50-75% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area- Autumn is in no hurry this year at the  Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. A beautiful place to see fall colors in the park is along the J F Kennedy Memorial drive with a few Oaks turning all shades of red, yellow, and gold. Expect the park to only get more beautiful as the month progresses!

75-100%- Burney Falls State Park– Autumn has arrived at Burney Falls State Park with the entire park coated in color from the ground up! Green colors are next to gone with great yellows and browns taking center stage. Pine needles are covering the floor and providing a great carpet of color to present the rest of the park’s foliage.

Tehama County:

Past Peak – Lassen Volcanic National Park– Winter has arrived at the Park and after about a foot of snow, most of  the fall colors have become dormant.

Lassen County:

75 – 100 %- Bizz Johnson Trail- Though past its color peak, the trail still has a lot to offer in terms of fall color. The Cottonwoods and Oak trees are full of soft yellows and oranges,  so whether you choose to bike, hike, or ride your horse, make sure to check out this display of autumn color.

Siskiyou County:

75 – 100%- Mt. Shasta- Mt. Shasta this week will be experiencing its peak in fall color. There are some trees that are beginning to lose leaves but in general, the broadleaf trees and plants are holding strong and being very persistent to hold onto their color. Expect to see an assortment of yellows, reds, golds and browns on everything from the thimbleberries that line the forest floor to the tips of the oaks, maples, and dogwoods.

Trinity County:

75-100%- Weaverville- Fall is peaking in Trinity County. For the most abundant color, we recommend sticking along the river and near the creek beds. The Oak and Maple trees are sporting excellent coats of yellows and oranges, and the shrubbery by the river is displaying some other beautiful golden shades. There is still time to check out these fall colors, so make your way over to Trinity County!

Plumas County:

Past Peak – Plumas County – The County is past its peak in the higher elevations, but there are still some colors to be seen in the lower elevations, especially in the Feather River Canyon Area. The Oaks and Aspens are still holding onto their color, but even they are not expected to last much longer. Enjoy the colors while you can because the forest is beginning to shift into her winter wardrobe.

Modoc County:

Past Peak – Modoc County- Due to the cold conditions, most of the fall colors have retreated until next year, but there still may be some color and leaves left on in the lower elevations for the avid explorer.

Yosemite Valley Past Peak

Reflections along the Merced River, Yosemite National Park © 2011 Michael Frye

Michael Frye reports this week that last Thursday’s light dusting of snow provided both beautiful images of color peeking through the dusting and the last of the peak in Yosemite Valley.  Here’s a report taken from his blog:

Past Peak – Yosemite Valley – “The next question is… what did the storms do to the fall color? While the rain and snow Thursday night knocked some leaves down, things were still in pretty good shape on Friday. But it got colder Friday night, and then there was another storm, and more cold temperatures Sunday night and last night. I spoke with Ansel Adams Gallery staff photographers Evan and Kirk, and it seems that the trees that were already turning, particularly the big-leaf maples in many spots, lost most of their leaves. There’s still some good color around Fern Spring, and Valley View, and some oaks and dogwoods in the eastern end of the Valley are still partially green. It’s been a long, slow-changing autumn in Yosemite, with no real peak. The best color is probably over, but some spots could have good color for awhile longer.”

In our experience, some of the loveliest color can be found with the first snowfall on the last fall color.  Black oak can be covered with snow or frost, well into early winter for moody photographs, so consider visiting Yosemite in November to capture these kinds of photographs and for the special solitude that occurs during this quiet time in the national park.

Gull Lake Remembered

Near Gull Lake (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Gull Lake (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Gull Lake (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Gull Lake Area (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Past Peak Aspen Leaves, Gull Lake (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Aspen Leaves (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Silver Lake (11/1/11) © 2011 Jyoti Suravarjula

Color spotter Jyoti Suravarjula sent these lovely photographs taken in late October near Gull Lake.  Color in the Eastern Sierra has now disappeared, though Jyoti’s photographs remind us of the beauty that was to be seen in one of the longest lasting shows of fall color in recent years.

15 – 30% – Santa Clara Valley – Sweet gum and California ash are coloring up in the South San Francisco Bay Area.

Photo Credit: © 2011  Jyoti Suravarjula

Big Range of Color at LA Arboretum

Pin oak, LA County Arboretum (11/6/11) © 2011 Frank McDonough

Chinese pistache, LA County Arboretum (11/6/11) © 2011 Frank McDonough

30 – 75% – Los Angeles Co. Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Frank McDonough reports a broad range of color change can be seen at the LA County Arboretum.  The Pin Oak (quercus palustris) seen at left is native to the eastern United States, though is one of the colorful species to be seen at the arboretum.

Yosemite Valley Still Colorful

Bigleaf Maple, Yosemite Valley (11/2/11) © 2011 Michael Frye

75 – 100% – Yosemite Valley – Outdoor photographer Michael Frye took this shot during one of his camera workshops.  He reports, “The yellow big-leaf maples are past peak in a couple of early-changing spots, and just getting there in other places (like around Fern Spring), but overall they look great. The dogwoods are becoming more colorful every day. Most are still partially green, but you can find beautiful specimens around Valley View and between the old dam (Highway 120/140 junction) and Pohono Bridge. The higher-elevation dogwoods along Highways 41 and 120, and in the Tuolumne Grove, should be prime, though I haven’t checked them out personally.”

As mentioned in previous posts on his blog (seen at left) “most of the cottonwoods leaves just turned brown and dropped off, and the same thing happened to some of the black oaks. But the oaks around Cook’s Meadow seem to have avoided this problem, and are still in good shape, though they’ve only just started to change color. The elm in the middle of Cook’s Meadow looked great two days ago, but will probably lose most of its leaves soon.”

A weak but cold storm came through the Sierra this week and Michael blogged “that could change everything. The snow level might drop as low as 3,500 feet. Since Yosemite Valley is at 4,000 feet that means a dusting of snow could coat the trees and those yellow leaves—a highly photogenic combination if it happens. But the wind, precipitation, and sudden dip in temperature might also cause many trees to drop their leaves abruptly, or make partially-green trees, like the oaks, turn brown. It’s impossible to predict how these things will play out, but autumn could end abruptly in Yosemite Valley. On the other hand, snow-covered trees and clearing storms can look great also!”

For more of Michael’s great reports and photos, consult his blog in the Blogroll at left.

California Fall Color is reporting this week and much of next from New Zealand, where spring has just ended and summer is beginning.  So, we’re at a temporary disadvantage in not being able to see the color, though will post as we receive reports from California color spotters.  In the meantime, do as we’re doing and explore the great outdoors!

Vineyards approach Peak

50 – 75% – Napa and Sonoma Counties – color spotters are reporting orange, red and burgundy among the vines.

Maples Begin to Show at LA Arboretum

10 – 15% – Los Angeles Arboretum – Frank McDonough reports that maples are beginning to show color at the LA County Arboretum & Boytanic Garden.

At peak on Hwy 88, 89, 4 loop

75 – 100% – Hope Valley – Patty Brisenden of Sorensen’s Resort reports she traveled Sorensen’s in the Hope Valley “east on Hwy. 88 where the colors are still pretty. Down Hwy 89 to Markleeville and then on Hwy 4 back over the Sierra to Murphys and Angels Camp.  Gorgeous route and beautiful colors for now.  Snow may be heading our way… so not sure how long it will last.  Hwy. 4 is a spectacular route, slow but lovely.”