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Liquidambar Brighten, Finally

So far this autumn, Liquidambar (Sweetgum) have been disappointingly flat. Photographs received, and those I’ve seen, have lacked the vibrant, firey colors normal for this colorful ornamental tree.

Color spotter Mohammed Hossain scores a First Report from Walnut-Rowland Heights and comes to the rescue, providing these mobile phone snaps he took on a walk in his neighborhood, West of Pomona.

Mohammed says recent storms with lots of rain and crisp, cool, clear following days have refreshed the trees, causing the colors to brighten. Perhaps that’s what’s been missing in an autumn that’s been unusually dry.

He continues that the San Gabriel Mountains are now dusted with snow, providing that Chamber of Commerce image that Rose Parade viewers have come to associate with Southern California in winter. Though, this is still autumn; winter does not begin until December 21.

It’s easy to imagine how Mohammed’s walk/jog, as he described, filled his “heart and soul” with the beauty of a late autumn day that was dressed with rainbows arcing above the dazzling colors.

  • Walnut-Rowland (571′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Out of this World

Vasquez Rocks (12/5/19) Allison Hastings

Nicknamed “Kirk’s Rock” for the many times it appeared in early episodes of the television series Star Trek, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park in Agua Dulce (between Santa Clarita and Palmdale) is virtually out of this world when it comes to dramatic beauty and late fall color.

Allison Hastings scores a First Report for sending back photos of the hike she took with her dog there, today.

Most of the color comes from native Fremont cottonwood and western sycamore. Also in the area are bigleaf maple, black and blue elderberry, white alder, Southern California black walnut, chokecherry, California ash and various willows.

  • Vasquez Rocks, Agua Dulce – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Fullerton Honey

Honey Locust, Fullerton Arboretum (11/15/19) Mark Hanning-Lee

Mark Hanning-Lee scores a first report for visiting the Fullerton Arboretum at Cal State Fullerton where he found ripe orange persimmons and Honey Locust dripping with golden color.

Mark was disappointed at the abundance of evergreens in the arboretum, though a scan through its Interactive Map, shows that there are a few deciduous varieties (e.g., Asian maple, Black alder). You just have to know what they are and when they’re peaking.

Wonderful pomegranate, Fullerton Arboretum (11/15/19) Mark Hanning-Lee

He found muted color on Wonderful Pomegranate and on two Green Ash and estimates the arboretum’s experimental apple orchard may peak later this month.

Remember, this is Orange County where peak occurs late in autumn.

  • Fullerton Arboretum (164′) – Near Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Orange Orange

It’s rare, extremely so, to receive a report from Orange County.

In the eleven years that CaliforniaFallColor.com has existed, Orange County has been mentioned in only three of over 1,000 fall color reports.

So, when Mark Hanning-Lee sent these snaps of Goodding’s black willow at Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange, I did a double take.

Orange in Orange? Yes, seeing is believing. OK, it isn’t Sabrina Lake, North Lake, June Lake Loop, Plumas County, Nevada City, Napa or Yosemite Valley at peak, but it’s just as special. Perhaps more so, because of its rarity.

The OC had opened its parking lots to free parking for veterans, yesterday, and Mark took advantage of the invite to score a First Report.

Peters Canyon Regional Park encompasses 340 acres of coastal sage scrub, riparian, freshwater marsh and grassland habitats. Goodding’s black willow, Western sycamore and Fremont cottonwood line Upper Peters Canyon Reservoir and Peters Canyon Creek, which meanders through the canyon.

Among its native deciduous plants, the City of Orange can count Southern California Black Walnut, Fremont cottonwood, Western sycamore, bigleaf maple, creek dogwood, black elderberry, Goodding’s black and other varieties of willow.

Hanning-Lee’s find is unlikely to cause a rush of color spotters to Orange County, though I would welcome more reports from there. As, an Orange Orange just seems right, doesn’t it?

  • Peters Canyon Regional Park, Orange (600′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
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Dripping Down The Rivers

Cottonwood, Knights Ferry (11/3/19) Jim Adams

Fall color is dripping down the rivers through the central valley.

Color spotter Jim Adams provides a First Report from Knight’s Ferry where he attended the annual pumpkin roll to find riverside cottonwood and willows and walnut orchards at peak.

Willow, Knights Ferry, Stanislaus River (11/3/19) Jim Adams

He reports that down the Stanislaus River in Oakdale, cottonwood and valley oak have yet to peak.

  • Knights Ferry, Stanislaus River (213′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
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Hike to Potem Falls

Potem Falls, Montgomery Creek (10/23/19) Laura Jean

Hike of the week takes you to Potem Falls, an impressive 60-foot drop along Montgomery creek in Shasta-Trinity National Forest near CA-299.

AllTrails.com describes the trail as a .4-mile, lightly trafficked out & back along Montgomery Creek (Trinity County) that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels.

The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best from March through October. Dog-friendly.

For directions, CLICK HERE.

Bigleaf maple, Potem Falls, Shasta-Trinity NF (10/23/19) Laura Jean

Laura Beeson scores a First Report and Hike of the Week, plus the above maple is red, a rarity for bigleaf maple. We’ll have to see more.

  • Potem Falls (1,246′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Hamilton Branch/Lake Almanor

Hamilton Branch, Feather River (10/26/19) Jeff Luke Titcomb

The Hamilton Branch of the Feather River drops from Dyer Mountain into Lake Almanor.

The designated census area or community of Hamilton Branch has 587 residents beside this stream which is considered to be exceptional for fly fishing.

In late October, Hamilton Branch is edged with firey orange color from oak, willow and maple. Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb scores a First Report for Hamilton Branch, and what a beauty it is.

  • Hamilton Branch, Lake Almanor (4,505′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Boca Panorama

Logan Alexander used a Moto Z3 camera phone in panorama mode to create this image of Boca Reservoir and score a First Report for this location. Aspen are at peak.

Boca Reservoir is on the Little Truckee River, 27 miles southwest of Reno near I-80.

  • Boca Reservoir (5,614′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains Wilderness Area (10/6/19) Leor Pantilat

Class in Session. So, who here has heard of the Marble Mountains?

No, the Marble Mountains of which I’m speaking are not in Vietnam, nor Southern California. Those are different ranges with the same name. The one I’m thinking of is in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Technically, they’re the northwest portion of the Salmon Mountains. Familiar, yet? No?

Maybe this will help … They’re a sub-range of the Klamath Mountains. Did I hear a “Huh!?”

Still cold? Here are some tips: the Marble Mountains area was one of the first four “Primitive Areas” designated in America (1931), became a Wilderness Area in 1953, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes through it.

Believe me. When I first learned of the Marble Mountains I was scratching my head, too. I’d never heard of them.

Bigleaf maple, Marble Mountains (10/6/19) Leor Pantilat

Images sent today by Leor Pantilat show a range deserving of greater recognition. The problem is, the Marble Mountains are in a state with 352 mountain ranges. So, it’s understandable that you might not have heard of them.

Wikipedia reports that more species of conifer (17) live in proximity there than any place else in the world, including the Brewer’s spruce; incense cedar; Western Juniper; white, subalpine and Shasta red fir; Engelmann spruce; mountain hemlock; Pacific yew; and whitebark, knobcone, foxtail, lodgepole, sugar, ponderosa and western white pine.

CaliforniaFallColor.com has mentioned the Marble Mountains previously, but Leor’s is the first report showing fall color there.

Bigleaf maple are Near Peak and lighting the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area’s remarkable conifer forest with yellow and gold. Dogwood are patchy and grasses from 6,000′ to 7,000′ are colorful. Peak should arrive within a fortnight.

Moving on … So, who here has heard of the Chemehuevi Mountains?

  • Marble Mountain Wilderness Area (3,000 to 5,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Bigleaf maple.
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Humboldt State Changes Colors

Humboldt State University’s school colors are green and gold, Michelle Pontoni tells us, but in autumn the Arcata campus looks more like USC with all the red and gold.

Near the University Police building, one of the tallest evergreens on campus towers over maples that hang with golden leaves. The change has happened so rapidly, that Michelle expects returning students to be surprised by the color change when they resume class today.

She writes, “One vibrant red maple stands among others still green lining both sides of Harpst Street outside the College Creek dorms, with a quarter moon hovering low in the southern sky.”

Usually, the busy intersection of Harpst and B streets resounds with hundreds of students passing each hour, but all that could be heard this past weekend was the “tiny rustle of leaves and just a whisper of wind near empty tables outside ivy-covered Harry Griffith Hall. There, the ivy seems almost animated, crawling up the wall in varying shades of green to red.  Nearby, hydrangeas in blue, pink, and white join the spectacle.  While, beyond lively crimson maple leaves are glimpsed between the greens and golds.

Pontoni recommends walking the Humboldt State campus in Arcata to appreciate the show, though the school is nicknamed Hills and Stairs University (HSU) for all the ascents and descents that students make during their matriculation.

One thing’s certain, color awaits around every building and up every staircase at HSU, and Michelle Pontoni scores a First Report for her colorful description of autumn in Arcata.

  • Humboldt State University, Arcata – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!