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Livermore Valley

Western Sycamore, Mines Rd, Livermore (11/27/18) Anirudh Natekar

Pleasanton is aptly named.

Located in the Livermore Valley, northeast of the Santa Clara Valley (Silicon Valley), Pleasanton is the wealthiest mid-sized city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and was ranked by USA Today in 2014 as #4 among America’s 50 best cities in which to live.

As pleasant as the town is, I wish they’d kept its original name, El Alisal, The Sycamores. As, in late November Pleasanton is a place to find beautiful fall color, including among its sycamores.

Anirudh Natekar explored Pleasanton and Livermore yesterday, scoring a First Report and sending these views of the beauty to be seen there. Hurry as it’s just about gone. 

Tesla Rd, Livermore (11/27/18) Anirudh Natekar
  • Livermore (495′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Pleasanton (351′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


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Sensational Sycamore

California sycamore, Valyermo (11/22/18) Trent Vierra

Thanksgiving Day took Trent Vierra to the Antelope Valley (Palmdale/Lancaster – First Report) to celebrate with family, by way of Wrightwood and Valyermo.

As he descended on CA-2 through Wrightwood (5,935′), Valyermo (3,711′), Palmdale (2,657′) and Lancaster (2,359′), the fall color kept getting better.

Black oak were Past Peak in Wrightwood with only willow and cottonwood left showing orange and gold color.

However, the California sycamore (Platanus racemosa) that Trent saw throughout Valyermo were in a word, Sensational.

Their gnarled and bleached trunks were sculpted into Seussian shapes with their crowns carrying “great copper orange color that served as a great contrast to the crystal blue skies that rain the previous night had created,” Trent described.

He continued that in his home area of Palmdale/Lancaster, “almost all the decorative deciduous trees were at peak color, so the Antelope Valley … is definitely at peak.” 

  • Wrightwood (5,935′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Valyermo (3,711′) – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Palmdale (2,657′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Lancaster (2,359′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


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Past Peak at Potem Falls

Potem Falls, Burney (11/4/18) Laura Jean

For a guy who’s traveled every byway in California and lived within the sound of Yosemite Falls, I’m constantly amazed to see a waterfall I didn’t know existed or get a report from a route I haven’t driven.

Laura Jean accomplished both with her report from Potem Falls (Montgomery Creek) and Stand By Me Bridge (off CA-89) in the Burney area of the Shasta Cascade, scoring double First Reports.

Blackberries, Potem Falls Trail (11/4/18) Laura Jean

The color is definitely Past Peak near Burney, though bright spots of orange and yellow can be seen across its rolling landscape.

The hike to Potem Falls, is what one reviewer describes as “short but sweet.” Just .4 miles and lightly trafficked, it gains only 98 feet and has the bonus of a beautiful, 69-foot waterfall at the end of the trail. In summer, it’s a popular swimming hole. 

  • Potem Falls, Burney – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Stand By Me Bridge, Burney – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Burney – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
Stand By Me Bridge, Burney (11/4/18) Laura Jean
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All The Leaves Are Down

All the leaves are down
And the sky’s not gray
I’ve been for a walk
On an autumn day
I’d be seeing Patchy
If I was in L.A.

California dreamin’
On such a late fall day …

 — apologies to The Mamas and the Papas

Michael Beatley walked past a church on his hike to Boyle Ravine in Quincy yesterday morning, if he passed Community United Methodist along the way.

Boyle Ravine (First Report) provides outdoor learning for students at nearby Quincy Elementary School (What a great idea. Every school oughta have outdoor learning nearby). It’s at the end of Coburn St. and has been newly added to the California Fall Color map.

There, you’ll find the faded glory of bigleaf maple, Pacific dogwood, black oak, alder, fern, violas, cedar, pine and fir trees along the forest trail.Looks like we’ll have to do some California dreamin’ about visiting it next autumn. 

  • Boyle Ravine, Quincy (3,342′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
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Happy on the Klamath

Klamath River Still Life (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Near Happy Camp, west of Yreka, on the Klamath River, Phillip Reedy found happiness floating, fishing and photographing fall color.

Phillip wrote of his first day on the river, “my fishing buddies had little patience for photography and I never even got to stop and take any pictures.”

Fortunately, the river Gods … that means, his guides, “took pity on me and chose a stretch of the river teeming with color, mostly dogwood, oak and big leaf maple.  I spent the morning in the front of the boat taking pictures while my buddy fished out of the back.”

Reedy returned with having bagged his limit of gorgeous fall color and a First Report for the Klamath River. 

  • Klamath River (1,660′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!


Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

Klamath River (10/28/18) Phillip Reedy

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Dressed For Halloween

Nelson Creek Bridge, Feather River, CA-70 (10/27/18) Crys Black

Hot Springs Ravine, Feather River, CA-70 (10/27/18) Crys Black

Rock Creek Reservoir, Feather River, CA-70 (10/27/18) Crys Black

Belden, Feather River, CA-70 (10/27/18) Crys Black

Black oak growing in Plumas County’s Feather River Canyon are dressed for Halloween wearing their brightest orange and black.

Color spotter Crys Black, “saw some of the best, most consistent color of the season,” on a Saturday drive from Marysville by heading east on the Quincy/La Porte Rd up into the Northern Sierra through Strawberry Valley (First Report) where fall color was “amazing.”

“Quincy was still really pretty although seems like it won’t last much longer,” and noted, “We loved how everyone was dressed for the big Halloween party.” It wasn’t just the trees that were dressed for Halloween.

On her return drive to Oroville via CA-70, the Feather River Canyon was at peak with “constant color.” 

  • Strawberry Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Quincy – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Spanish Creek – – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Feather River Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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First Report: Tuolumne Grove

Pacific dogwood, Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoia, Yosemite National Park (10/23/18) Thomas Haraikawa

Pacific dogwood, Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoia (10/24/18) Thomas Haraikawa

The Western Sierra follows its Eastern Sierra neighbors in peaking, because its most-profuse deciduous foliage grows at lower elevations.

Presently, Pacific dogwood, bigleaf maple, Frémont cottonwood and black oak are presenting a palette of pink, crimson, yellow, gold and orange colors in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Valley’s famous sugar maple peaked in mid October, though dogwood, maple, cottonwood and oak continue to carry bright color.

Favorite areas to shoot fall color in Yosemite’s fall color are: the Yosemite Chapel (mid Oct.), Fern Spring (mid to late Oct.), Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan Meadow, Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village, Photographer’s Bridge and the Valley’s other eight historic stone bridges (late Oct. to mid Nov.).

Thomas Haraikawa scores a First Report for his visit to the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoia. This grove is often overlooked by Yosemite photographers who are attracted to the valley, but as Thomas’ photographs show, it has iridescent and irresistible fall color.

Located near the intersection of the Big Oak Flat and Tioga Road (CA-120), the Tuolumne Grove is now a riot of hot pink, red, orange, yellow and lime colors.

Bigleaf maple and black oak, Southside Drive, Yosemite Valley (10/24/18) Thomas Haraikawa

Late October to mid November is when the Valley’s black oaks are best. Yosemite Valley likely has the most impressive stands of black oak in California, due to their juxtaposition to such impressive granite monoliths as Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, El Capitan) and Yosemite’s many towering waterfalls which get replenished by autumn rains.

We call black oak the Halloween tree, both because it peaks near Halloween and because its black trunks and branches contrast so boldly with the tree’s fully peaked orange leaves.

Yosemite’s fall color is truly a treat to the eye. 

  • Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoia, Yosemite National Park (6,200′)- Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park (4,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Plumose Plumas

Community United Methodist Church, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County is absolutely beatific.

Peak fall color is brightening all its byways and Quincy, the county seat, has never looked better.

Michael Beatley, Phillip Reedy and Ravi Ranganathan have been working the byways, backroads and city streets of Quincy to show Plumas and its environs at plumose perfection.

Beatley describes Quincy as “gorgeous right now. Beautiful peak with blue skies, daytime temps low 70s, nights 25-32 degrees. The wonderful thing about Quincy, is that all its downtown power lines were buried years ago. No telephone poles. The whole town is full of beautiful foliage.”

To get this fabulous light, he was up at dawn to shoot historic Plumas Superior Courthouse and Community United Methodist Church bathed in color so angelic, it makes me want to genuflect.

Ravi began his photo safari in Quincy, but then traveled to Oakland Camp where “the rhubarbs were mirrored gloriously along Spanish Creek.”

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

The highlight of Ravi’s Plumas County fall color excursion was a hike along the Cascades Trail “with beautiful colors all along. I hiked ’til I came upon a couple of wooden bridges. Looking down, the view of the stream was amazing with the fall colors reflected with gold.” (First Report)

Ravi’s fall color expedition included stops at Thompson Lake, Bucks Lake and Big Creek Road, all “filled with aspen, oak and maple. He had used CaliforniaFallColor.com to research the places he wanted to photograph and gave a nod of thanks to Michael Beatley and Jeff Luke Titcomb for additional guidance and inspiration.

What Ravi accomplished in capturing in a short amount of time was nothing short of astonishing, hitting a number of Plumas highlights.

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Similar to Ranganathan’s photo tour, Reedy began in Quincy, then toured through the Lakes Basin and down Hwy 49 to Downieville along the north fork of the Yuba.

Phil said “Quincy looks lovely, although the maples at the courthouse still have a bit to go to reach full color. Perhaps another week will do it.” That’s good news for anyone reading this, as there’s a week to get there and still see it at peak, though as Ravi’s photographs show, aspen at Thompson Lake are dropping color.

One of the reasons Plumas County is such a great fall color destination is that a variety of trees show at one elevation in successive displays over about three weeks: first pink dogwood, then yellow aspen, then golden bigleaf maple, then multicolored exotics, and finally orange black oak.

Reedy said CA-70 from Quincy to Graeagle is showing “a lot of oaks at Peak color right now and very pretty. There are some aspens in the Lakes Basin area, but nothing too exciting when compared to areas like Hope Valley.”

Yuba River, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Salmon Creek, Sierra City (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Yuba River, Downieville (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Black oak, Quincy to Graeagle (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

Sardine Lake (10/19/18) Phillip Reedy

















He continued, between 5,000 and 6,000′ along CA-49 east of Sierra City, “the aspens are definitely at peak or a bit beyond. Downstream between Sierra City and Downieville there are nice colors from big leaf maples, but I would guess another week will be needed to fully develop the colors.” 

  • Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Big Creek Rd., Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Road to Buck’s Lake (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Thompson Lake, Plumas County (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Bucks Meadow, Plumas County (10/20/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Oakland Camp, Feather River (10/19/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Quincy (10/19/18)Ravi Ranganathan

Keddie Wye, (10/19/18) Plumas County Ravi Ranganathan

Sugar maple, (10/19/18) Thompson Ranch, Ravi Ranganathan

Plumas County Superior Courthouse, Quincy (10/20/18) Michael Beatley

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Last Fruit of the Season

Hawthorn, El Dorado Hills (10/18/18) John Poimiroo

Hawthorn (Crataegus), according to Celtic lore, embody contradictions.

Beautiful in springtime with their abundant white blossoms, Hawthorn produce bonny bouquets. Yet, their long, sharp thorns (a member of the rose family) and deathly smell when harvested, discouraged the Celts from picking them.

It became a bad omen to bring beautiful blooming branches of Hawthorn blossoms into a Celtic home, as when cut they smell like decaying flesh and were seen as an omen of death. The Celts believed the Hawthorn to be imbued with male energy, yet also stood as a symbol of female fertility … more duality.

In autumn, their branches hang heavy with bright red berries, attracting birds. The berries are long lasting, often into winter, are delicious fresh, dried, juiced, made into syrup, wine, jam or jelly and said to benefit the heart and circulation in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, as they are a diuretic (consult a physician before using for this purpose).

Though, their long thorns are so discouraging, that when planted in dense rows they are used as impenetrable fences for livestock or privacy.

In our yard is this Autumn Glory variety of tree that gets taller each year (they grow to 25′). Presently, it is carrying heavy bunches of fruit upon its thorny limbs.

Its dark-green, leathery leaves are showing the earliest signs of color change, with its edges now gilded. Eventually, green leaves will turn to gold and the tree’s fresh red fruit will wither.

Hawthorn is, of course, not native to California, but like the Celts, we love its beauty and fear its thorns. 

  • Hawthorn, El Dorado Hills – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Mount Up and Ride

Lower Rock Creek Trail (10/13/18) Gigi de Jong

Lower Rock Creek Trail (10/13/18) Gigi de Jong

Lower Rock Creek Trail (10/13/18) Gigi de Jong

Lower Rock Creek Trail (10/13/18) Gigi de Jong

“Mount up and ride,” encourages Bishop Area color spotter Gigi de Jong who describes the Lower Rock Creek Trail (at the top of Round Valley, north of Bishop – First Report) as the gold standard for mountain biking in the Eastern Sierra.

“This trail earns ‘gold’ for its superior ride, and fall is its ‘golden season’ due to mild days and the trail’s splendid color,” she explains.

Aspen near the top of the trail are just beginning to yellow. Parts of the trail appear luminous. Gigi writes, “The last rays of the setting sun drop like liquid gold through the canopy, leaving traces of iridescent color on the ripples of Rock Creek. Willow and birch stand out in hues of deep gold and burnt orange.”

Bishop Creek Canyon is now done peaking. Though the lowest sections of the canyon remain at peak, none of them compare to the spectacular scenes witnessed for the past three weeks, higher up. Now, the show in Inyo County is dropping to the lower canyons and valleys.

Bishop Country Club (10/15/18) Gigi de Jong

In the Owens Valley, a surprising place to be wowed by autumn is the Bishop Country Club (First Report) where, Gigi continues, “where the luscious green of the fairways meets the lustrous yellow of the trees. Soon the beautiful grounds of the country club will blend with the last colors of summer in a riotous collision with autumn. Then,” she exudes, “if we’re lucky, a blanket of white will soften everything into the monochromatic colors of winter. Get ready for the most beautiful round of golf, ah … apologies, gold – anywhere!”



Owens Valley (10/15/18) Gigi de Jong

Owens Valley (10/15/18) Gigi de Jong

Other Owen’s Valley developing areas include Buckley Ponds, Rawson Ponds and canals where landmark cottonwoods grow along their edges, adorned with yellow crowns.

“They are majestic and tower over the valley’s lowland landscape,” Gigi adds, “Also, abandoned grain silos rise like ghosts from a forgotten era, standing sentinel over fields of pure sunshine. California grasses mixed with still-blossoming yellow rabbitbrush and cottonwoods cloaked in gold are filled with the sounds of migrating songbirds and bees.” 

Owens Valley (10/15/18) Gigi de Jong

Owens Valley/Round Valley/Pine Creek

  • Lower Rock Creek Rd – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Round Valley – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Pine Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Bishop Country Club – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Owens Valley – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Big Pine Creek – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Mt. Whitney Portal – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Chocolate Lakes Trail, Inyo County (10/13/18) Kirsten Liske

Bishop Creek Canyon

S. Fork Bishop Creek

  • South Lake – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Weir Pond – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Parcher’s Resort – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Willow Camp – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Surveyor’s Meadow – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Table Mountain Group Camp – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Stiny Loop/Mt Glen Camp – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Mist Falls – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Four Jeffrey Camp – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

M. Fork Bishop Creek

  • Sabrina Lake – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Sabrina Approach – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Sabrina Campground – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Groves Above Cardinal Village – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • Aspendell – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!
  • Intake II – – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Big Trees Camp – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

N. Fork Bishop Creek

  • North Lake – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!
  • North Lake Rd. – – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT!