Way Up North – Two Firsts

Shasta Knotweed, Panther Meadow, Mt. Shasta (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Lassen Volcanic NP guide Shanda Ochs took a busman’s holiday, outside the national park, to explore McCloud River Falls trail in Siskiyou County and Panther Meadows at Mt. Shasta, while scoring two first reports, for these areas.

Dogwood, McCloud River Falls Trail (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Panther Meadow (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Panther Meadow (8,000′) – Peak (75-100%)  Shasta knotweed have carpeted the meadow with peak crimson leaves, though the remainder of the meadow was just beginning to change color, and Shanda saw some late blooming wildflowers in the meadow.

McCloud River Falls Trail (3,000′) – Just Starting  (0-10%) – Indian Rhubarb is just beginning to promise giant flame orange fan leaves along the McCloud River. A quarter of the Pacific Dogwood growing beside the river are giving off intense ruby and lime.

Indian Rhubarb, McCloud River Falls Trail (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs


Hope Valley Begins to Happen

Red Lake Cabins, Hope Valley (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

California Trail (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Fly fisherman Phillip Reedy finds the most beautiful locations. Yesterday, he visited the Hope Valley and walked the old California Trail in search of bows, brookies and beauty.

He came back with these shots and likely a string of lunkers, finding the valley’s photogenic cabin (2 miles east of Red Lake on CA88 at 7,400′) surrounded by a few of the aspen that are changing in the valley. The rest along the highway and on the mountainside above the cabins are still green.

At 7,200′ in elevation the old California Trail, Reedy wrote, “cuts across 88 right there which was used back in the 1840s.  That was the only place along the entire trip from Silver Lake to Tahoe with bright yellow color.”

Phillip said last year at this time, the route was peaking and anticipates it will be Near Peak to Peak by next weekend, in time for the Alpine Aspen Festival. It is likely to stay at peak for the next two weeks.

Red Creek (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Red Lake Cabins (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Hope Valley (7,400′) – Patchy (10-50%)



Tahoe Turns

Bennett and Andrew run past quaking aspen at North Tahoe Regional Park (9/30/17) Nicole Coburn

Tahoe City (9/30/17) Nicole Coburn

Santa Cruz County color spotter Nicole Coburn traveled to North Lake Tahoe with her husband, Chris, and boys, Andrew and Bennett, reporting that fall color is turning at the lake with aspen and maples developing quickly, yet still a week away from peak color.

She reported the autumn weather at North Lake Tahoe to be “glorious.”

Nearby in Truckee, Herb Hwang found aspen transitioning from lime to yellow along the Truckee River and near the Tahoe Donner ski area.

The old cabin on CA-237, between Northstar and Brockway Summit – a favorite for wedding portraits – is a similar mix of colors.

North Lake Tahoe (6,250′) – Patchy (10-50%)

Truckee (5,817′) – Patchy (10-50%)



Truckee (10/1/17) Herb Hwang

Aspen, Truckee (10/1/17) Herb Huang

Quaking Aspen, Tahoe Donner (9/30/17) Herb Hwang

KCRA-TV3 – Top Ten NorCal Fall Foliage

Napa Valley (11/5/16) Gene Miller

Our friends at KCRA-TV3 have posted Northern California’s top ten fall foliage spots. CLICK HERE to read their report.

Whoomp! There It Is!

Liquidambar, West Hollywood (9/30/17) LA Leaf Peeper

Tag Team oughta be singing, “Whoomp, there it is!” whenever we post a shot of the West Hollywood liquidambar, submitted by LA Leaf Peeper.

The tree is a scraggly one. Since LA Leaf Peeper last sent a picture of it, the venerable specimen appears to have lost a few limbs and looks the worse for wear… sorta like some silver screen starlet whose red carpet days are long past.

And yet, the West Hollywood liquidambar has been consistently one of the earliest reported examples of early color in California. That’s because liquidambar are runway ready and often dressed in splashes of auburn, gold and orange.

So, though it’s not “drop-your-jaw, Charlize-Theron gorgeous.” The West Hollywood tree still deserves a few flashbulbs popping. Thanks LA Leaf Peeper.

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Shasta Cascade on Pace for Early Peak

Cottonwood, Westwood (9/29/17) Chris Gallagher

Unlike the Eastern Sierra, which is a week to two late, we’re getting early reports of fall color from the Northern Sierra and Cascades.

Admittedly, the color is at the starting to patchy phase, but still, the photos don’t lie. Even valley locations in the northern Central Valley, like Colusa, are showing early color.

We’re not close to issuing a GO NOW! alert, as too few photos have been received to indicate a trend, though will be watching closely. What a weird year!

Westwood (Lassen County) – Patchy (10-50%) – Chris Gallagher, Lassen County District 1 Supervisor, sent a photo of patchy cottonwood near a Westwood barn to score a First Report. Westwood was a lumber mill town, east of Lake Almanor and beside the lovely (bring your kayak) Mountain Meadows Reservoir and Dyer Mountain, the northernmost point in the Sierra Nevada.

Fall River (9/29/17) Martha Fletcher

Fall River – Patchy (10-50%) – Martha Fletcher reports that the Fall River area, particularly Upper Fall River near the Spinner Fall Lodge remains Patchy with the color at 50% and showing shades of yellow, gold, some reds and green from willow, black oak and river grasses.

Mountain Ash, Colusa (9/29/17) Nancy Hull

Colusa – Patchy (10-50%) – Mountain ash have brightened in Colusa (Central Valley), Nancy Hull reports. Several National Wildlife Refuges are located near Colusa, which is a great location for wildlife viewing in autumn.



Mammoth/South All Patchy, Peak Nears

Convict Lake (9/27/17) Josh Wray

How did I miss Josh Wray’s report this past week? Somehow it got buried by a load of email. Just found it.

Rock Creek (9/27/17) Josh Wray

Fortunately, none of the areas south of Mammoth Lakes have neared peak, though all of them moved from Just Starting to Patchy. Here’s what he reported on Wednesday:

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,500′) – Patchy (10-50-%) 

Lake George (9,000′) –Patchy (10-50-%) 

Mammoth Rock (9,100′) –Patchy (10-50-%) 

Laurel Meadow (9,000′) –Patchy (10-50-%) 

Convict Lake (8,500′) – Patchy (10-50-%) – Convict Lake is gorgeous right now. Golden willows have ringed the lake with lime-yellow color. Some of the smaller groves near the backside of the lake have turned orange. Convict Lake is on the edge of transitioning to Near Peak.





McGee Creek (9/27/17) Josh Wray

McGee Creek (9/27/17) Josh Wray

McGee Creek (9,000′) –Patchy (10-50-%) – Aspen near the pack station have begun turning. It’s best around late afternoon. Look for lots of lime and yellow.

Rock Creek (9/27/17) Josh Wray




Rock Creek  (9,000′) – Patchy (10-50%) –  Like many of the upper areas, Rock Creek is off to a late start. The color begins at level 7,500′, but is just starting there. The best color is seen above the Rock Creek Resort.


Foster Travel on California Fall Color

Foster Travel

Travel writer/photographer Lee Foster and I will be heading Outside on the Eastside starting on Monday to photograph and record fall color.

Lee has published many books on California and holds the distinction as the first travel writer to fully embrace and be truly successful in online publishing. Recently, he posted this article on California Fall Color.

Our route will take US 50 east to Placerville, then south along Mormon Emigrant Trail to CA 88, then east again across Carson Pass through the Hope Valley, turning south through Markleeville and over Monitor Pass to US 395.

From there, we’ll travel south, checking Eastern Sierra canyons for color, arriving at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon for the sunset.

I’ve been asked where the locations identified on this site are located, since many are not identified on Google or Apple maps. That is why I’ve placed a custom map on this website. You’ll find it in the column to the right, just below the weather forecast.


California Fall Color Map

The California Fall Color Map identifies precisely where fall color has been seen and to what stage the color has progressed. However, the updating of the leafs is done manually as new reports arrive, and I am sometimes delayed from posting updates. So, the map is only as current as time permits to post updates.

Still, if you’re reading this site and go to the map, you can find locations about which we’ve reported on this site.

To use it, click on the brackets at upper right. The map will open in a new window. Then search for the location you want to visit or click on a leaf. Expand the view to make clicking on leaves easier. You may have to click “View in Google Maps,” for a closeup view of nearby roads.

Good hunting.


Round Valley: Bigleaf Maple Go Big

Bigleaf maple, Round Valley Canyon (9/27/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Reporting from Plumas County, color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb found bigleaf maple and dogwood showing Near Peak color in areas of Round Valley Canyon.

Round Valley Canyon (4,692′), Plumas County – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Dogwood (9/27/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb


Bishop Creek Futures

Gold Pan – Clearview Stock | Dreamstime

This doesn’t seem to be the autumn to be investing in gold, at least up Bishop Creek. As, that commodity – among the aspen – is in short supply.

A call to Jared Smith at Parcher’s Resort this morning was disheartening, at least for the moment. He reported that the snow that fell last week knocked newly turned leaves from the aspen. And, he was “not impressed” by what is left, for now.

If you’ve missed Jared’s reports, its because he hasn’t been able to take pictures, as the battery charger for his Nikon D7000 is missing. So, travel writer/photographer Lee Foster and I will be traveling there on Monday to bring him one and see what we can capture in all the canyons from Bishop north to Mammoth Lakes.

If you’d planned to photograph or visit Bishop Creek Canyon this weekend, don’t put it off. There still will be beautiful color, but probably not up to “Ohmigosh, I can’t believe this is happening” expectations.

Groves at Cardinal Village (9/29/17) Rick Aeschliman

The best areas of fall color in Bishop Creek Canyon, presently, are: Lake Sabrina (high above the lake) and at Groves Above Cardinal Village (Near Peak). Most of the upper areas are patchy with muted orange and gold tones. Peak color can also be found near Mono Lake at Sagehen Meadows (use the California Fall Color Map at right for directions).

Though, do not let this limited selection discourage you from traveling. Fall color has progressed in Bishop Creek Canyon from patchy to full peak within a few days. Right now is when it has peaked in recent years, and at least two areas of the canyon are Near Peak, so GO NOW!

So, despite the disappointing reports, I’m not putting off my trip. I’m a Californian and we don’t get discouraged if we don’t find gold the first time we put a pan in the water. We just keep panning, as we know it’s there to be found.

Southern Inyo County

Whitney Portal (8,374’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Onion Valley (9,600’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Big Pine Creek (7,660’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery (4,000’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Alabama Hills (4,534’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Northern Inyo County

Weir Pond (9,650’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Sabrina Campground (9,000’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Willow Campground (9,000’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Table Mountain Camp (8,900’)- Patchy (10 – 50%) – Table Mountain and Surveyor’s Meadow seem to have the best color along South Lake Road, for the moment.

Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Lake Sabrina (9150ft) – Patchy (10 – 50%) to Peak (75-100%) –Peak color is seen high above Lake Sabrina in groves of aspen growing near 10,000’. However, it has not yet descended to lake level. GO NOW!

North Lake (9,255’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Aspendell (8,400’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Near Peak (50-75%) – The stunted and weathered aspen here are normally notoriously early, but not this year. Presently, they are a deep orange color and should peak in the coming week. GO NOW!

Four Jeffries (8,000’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Intake II (8,000’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)