The Low Down on Down Low

Chinese pistache, Watsonville (8/21/16) Chuck Eads

Chinese pistache, Watsonville (8/21/16) Chuck Eads

For the past week and a half, we’ve received a flush of reports of near peak fall color appearing down low (Oakland, Berkeley, Watsonville, Salinas, San Diego), though spots of color have been reported up high, too (Eastern Sierra, San Bernardino Mountains).

So, what’s the low down on color that’s down low?

Almost all the early peak color seen at lower elevations so far (with the exception of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego) has appeared on non-native trees, whereas native trees appear to be developing normally.

Every year, we get reports of trees with early color.  Often the trees happen to be exotics (non-native), like the liquidambar that LA Leaf Peeper reported as fringed with red in June.

Does this mean an earlier autumn? We suspect not. Early change is more likely a product of a particular environment, locale or specie, than it is a harbinger of an early autumn, statewide.

Our recommendation to see the best color is to plan travel to see fall color in California, as normally.  The best way to do this is to use this site as a research tool, by looking back at the area you want to visit (category) or date when you plan to visit (archives).

Notice when the color was at peak at a given location during the past five years, then pick an average date for past peaks, or find locations where it was peaking when you can travel and go there.

With either approach, your choice should be very close to peak color. And, that’s the low down on traveling to see the best fall color in California.

Near Peak (50-75%) – Watsonville Community Hospital (Go Now!)