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Capitol Color

Capitol Park, Sacramento (12/3/19) Steve Arita

Today was the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the State Capitol in Sacramento, though it wasn’t the only tree at Capitol Park that was lit up with color.

Steve Arita was there this week and sends these images of late peak color. Sacramento’s neighborhoods are now past peak, though spots of bright color – as seen in Capitol Park – can still be found in this city of trees.

  • Capitol Park, Sacramento – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
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Leaf Sunday

English oak, University Arboretum, CSU Sacramento (11/17/19) John Poimiroo

Everyone ought to have a leaf Sunday.

It’s a Sunday drive just to see peaking leaves. Mine was spent on a route I’ve taken many times with stops in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Fair Oaks and Sacramento.

Brown’s Ravine, Folsom Lake SRA, El Dorado Hills (11/17/19) John Poimiroo
Mormon Island Wetlands Reserve, Folsom (11/17/19) John Poimiroo

El Dorado Hills has trees yet to turn, but more than half have dropped leaves, so it’s between peak and past peak. Fremont cottonwood and Toyon are nearing the end of their peak at Folsom Lake SRA; and landmark Fremont cottonwood at Mormon Island Wetlands are at peak and crowed with bright yellow.

Fair Oaks Park is nearing the end of peak. The approaching storm is likely to remove whatever color is still hanging, and the village’s chickens seemed to know a storm is approaching, as they were crowing anxiously.

The University Arboretum was mostly past peak, though lovers didn’t mind. They sat on benches in quiet corners of the arboretum, ignoring arguments between squirrels, as they whispered to one another and kissed.

Fabulous Forties, Sacramento (11/17/19) John Poimiroo

Along the Fabulous Forties in east Sacramento (avenues numbered in the 40s), large dumps of leaves from towering London plane trees planted near the curbs have littered the avenues. Owners of these stately homes are out each weekend, blowing, raking and sweeping the detritus into piles to be hauled away by city workers.

Holly and her daughter blow leaves into a pile (11/17/19) John Poimiroo

I happened upon Holly and her daughter who were rushing to blow a week’s fall of folioles, so that party guests would have room to park along the curb that night.

There was autumn in the air in downtown Sacramento. Couples dressed in sweatshirts and light sweaters, even though temps were in the low 70s.

The constant fall of leaves from the city’s canopy of color (see “Rollin’ Thru SacTown” posted earlier today), makes Sacramento seem like it should be colder than it is. Perhaps that will change this week, as snow in the Sierra is predicted.

William Land Park, Sacramento (11/17/19) John Poimiroo

Leaf-dressed picnics, touch football, golf and Sunday strolls were happening at William Land Park, and I closed my Leaf Sunday Drive stopping at the Freeport Bakery to purchase a couple of … what else? Leaf Cookies.

Leaf Cookies, Freeport Bakery, Sacramento (11/17/19) John Poimiroo
  • El Dorado Hills (768′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Mormon Island Wetlands Reserve (372′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Folsom (220′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Fair Oaks (174′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • CSU Arboretum – Sacramento (30′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.
  • Fabulous Forties – Sacramento (30′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Downtown – Sacramento (30′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • William Land Park – Sacramento (30′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Rollin’ Thru SacTown

Here’s how Niven Le rolls.

  • Video: GoPro
  • Music: Avicil – The Days; Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand
  • Sacramento (30′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Above Ground

Owner’s Cottage, Empire Mine SHP, Grass Valley (11/10/19) Steve Arita

Hard rock gold miners didn’t have much opportunity to enjoy the beauty of autumn. They spent most of their day underground.

However, at Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley the gold to be found today is all above ground. Steve Arita visited this past weekend and found the mine’s surrounding forests to be at peak and beautiful.

Empire Mine was in operation for more than 100 years, starting during the 1850s. In that century, 5.8 million ounces of gold were removed, valued at $8.5 billion in today’s dollars.

The park contains many of the mine’s buildings, the owner’s home and restored gardens, as well as the entrance to 367 miles of abandoned and flooded mine shafts.

856 acres of forested backcountry and fourteen miles of trails for easy hikes, mountain biking and horseback riding can be experienced in the park.

Visitors can enter the actual shaft, but visit only 1/367th of the mine’s five square miles of underground workings, as everything deeper is under water.

So, Steve wasn’t able to bring back any golden souvenirs, other than these photographs of the park’s fall color. After all, he was keeping it all above ground.

  • Empire Mine SHP, Grass Valley (2,411′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Backroad Soliloquy

Newtown Rd., Placerville (11/9/19) John Poimiroo

California’s mid-19th-century gold rush towns are links in a golden chain of backroads that wind through the fabled Mother Lode. I explored a few of them today, in search of fall color and impressions.

The byways rise, twist and drop alongside creeks and rivers that spill out of the western Sierra. The drainages are presently gilded with yellow bigleaf maple, orange black oak and golden black locust.

My Saturday drive traveled through Placerville, whose surrounding hills are dotted with deep orange black oak, then traveled south to Pleasant Valley by way of Newtown Rd. The South Fork of Weber Creek hugs Newtown Rd. and is backlit with dazzling clusters of yellow maples and orange oaks.

From the junction of Newtown Rd. west toward Diamond Springs on Pleasant Valley Rd, the twisted limbs of venerable valley and black oak overhang the road, enveloping it and creating a boulevard of deformed branches heavy with color. Large orange and yellow leaves tumble from the canopy in a gentle fall to eventually chase passing vehicles.

At Pleasant Valley’s wineries (Narrow Gate, Holly’s Hill, Sierra Vista, Miraflores and others), tasters swirl glasses of ruby Syrah and repeat a common soliloquy of how warm and dry this autumn is.

  • Newtown Rd., Placerville(2,447′) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.

Ripe as an Apple

Bargain apples, Boa Vista, Apple Hill (11/8/19) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill is as ripe for fall color as its apples are for picking.

A visit to Camino in El Dorado County was stuffed full of tasty images, as delicious as one of their apple pies or wines.

Zinfandel, Boeger Winery, Apple Hill, Camino (11/8/19) John Poimiroo
Zinfandel vines, Boeger Winery, Apple Hill, Camino (11/8/19) John Poimiroo
  • Apple Hill, Camino ( ) – Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.

Dried Grapes

California wild grape, Vitis californica, were at peak a year ago this week. So, as I passed through Cameron Park, I stopped, expecting to find them full of color.

They were, but not as I’d have preferred to see them.

So, I continued east on US 50, the Lincoln Highway (America’s first transcontinental highway) to Placerville, the El Dorado county seat.

As I climbed the west slope of the Sierra toward Placerville, clumps of orange black oak and golden Fremont cottonwood glowed from surrounding woods.

Placerville is at peak with the oaks particularly good in the midday sun.

  • Placerville (1,867′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • California Wild Grape, Cameron Park (1,198′) – Past Peak, YOU MISSED IT.

Sacramento Valley Still Patchy, but Approaching Peak

Mormon Island Wetlands Reserve, Folsom (10/26/19) John Poimiroo

Fremont cottonwood at the Mormon Island Wetlands Reserve in Folsom and in open space wetlands are crested with gold, as peak approaches.

Chinese pistache, El Dorado Hills (10/26/19) John Poimiroo

This area has peaked, traditionally, in mid November, though the color is already beautiful.

Wetland areas of Folsom’s Humbug-Willow Creek Trail are full of ruby foliage, and streets throughout the area are lined with iridescent exotic Chinese pistache.

  • Folsom (220′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!

All-American Apple Harvest

Apple tree, Apple Pantry Farm, Apple Hill, Camino (10/20/19) Ravi Ranganathan

As American as Apple Pie. Apples are part of our DNA. It’s no wonder, then, that so many apple growing areas attract lots of people during apple harvest.

That happens in Camino (El Dorado County) when, in 1964, farmers recognized that their apple farms could not survive selling apples in competition with other growers.

So, they copied a marketing program started in Southern California’s Oak Glen to attract apple tourists for harvest. It worked.

The Apple Hill Growers Association started with 16 growers and now has 55 ranchers, including Christmas tree growers, wineries, vineyards, a B&B and a spa.

What happens on Apple Hill is a lot of traditional orchard tending for eight months of the year, and an apple-centric part festival, part fair for the remaining four.

Each ranch has a different theme. All sell some form of apple product (candied apples, baked apple pastries, preserves, cider, etc.), fruits, nuts, honey or vegetables. Many sell unique gifts (bird houses, handcarved signs, windmills, dolls, soaps, hay and train rides and cosmetics.

What ties the farms and ranches together is an old-fashioned good time.

Ravi Ranganathan visited with his family to send these glimpses of Apple Hill.

  • Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
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Nevada City Peaks In Time For Victorian Fall Colors Tour

On Saturday (Oct. 26), Nevada City will host its annual Victorian Fall Colors Tour. The tour includes stops at 15 locations where peak fall color promises to be seen.

Robert Kemen and Ravi Ranganathan visited Nevada City this past week and captured some of what’s in store.

  • Nevada City (2,477′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!