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Gold Country Just Starting

Mormon Island Wetlands, Folsom (10/25/15) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetlands, Folsom (10/25/15) John Poimiroo

A Sunday drive confirmed today that the Gold Country is just starting.

Narrow Gate Vineyards, Pleasant Valley (10/25/15) John Poimiroo

Narrow Gate Vineyards, Pleasant Valley (10/25/15) John Poimiroo

Apple Hill, Pleasant Valley, Newtown Road (Placerville) and Mormon Island Wetland (Folsom) are showing hints of gold, but not enough to push any of these areas to Patchy.

Pleasant Valley and Apple Hill showed the most color with wild cucumber in patchy change from green to chartreuse and vineyards beginning to turn.

A cresting of yellow atop cottonwood at Mormon Island Wetlands in Folsom expands each week, though is still just starting.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Gold Country

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Hike of the Week – Empire Mine SHP

Empire Mine SHP (11/12/14) Barbara Matthews

Empire Mine SHP (11/12/14) Barbara Matthews

Color spotter Barbara Matthews noted on our Facebook page that she took a walk in the woods at Empire Mine State Historic Park, providing this panoramic montage of its trails littered with spent bigleaf maple leaves, inspiring us to name it hike of the week.  Way to go, Barbara!

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Weekend Roundup: Snow and Glory

Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Pomegranates are the color of fall at Boa Vista in Apple Hill (10/30/14 John Poimiroo

Pomegranates are the color of fall at Boa Vista in Apple Hill (10/30/14 John Poimiroo

Grape tubs are full of rainfall at Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Grape tubs are full of rainfall at Narrow Gate Vineyards (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Counoise vines at Holly's Hill Winery (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Counoise vines at Holly’s Hill Winery (11/1/14) John Poimiroo

Color spotters from around the state have sent reports on what’s showing as November and daylight saving time arrives.

Western El Dorado County (Near Peak 50 -75%) – The brilliant orange-red of exotic Chinese pistache is a show stopper along El Dorado Hills Boulevard and at all US 50 exits in Placerville.  Newtown Rd between Placerville and Pleasant Valley is a veritable canopy of yellow and lime bigleaf maple with occasional orange flushes of black oak. This is one of the most beautiful drives in the Gold Country, though has few turnouts, so you have to stop before or after you see the color to photograph it.  GO NOW!

Apple Hill (Near Peak 50-75%) – Apple orchards, fruit trees and vineyards are a blend of yellow, gold and green. GO NOW!

Sierra Foothills Wineries and Vineyards (Near Peak 75-100%) – Counoise and Grenache vineyards at Holly’s Hill and Narrow Gate wineries in the Pleasant Valley area south of Placerville are a mix of lime, yellow, orange and red.  GO NOW!

Beckstoffer Vineyards, Ukiah (10/29/14) Walter Gabler

Beckstoffer Vineyards, Ukiah (10/29/14) Walter Gabler

Ukiah Valley (Near Peak – 50-75%) – North coast color spotter Walter Gabler reports that Mendocino County vineyards are near peak in the Ukiah Valley. Vineyards tend to change by variety.  Because of this, it’s difficult to know which are peaking and which are progressing toward peak. Our advice, regarding all wineries, is to visit anytime from early October to mid November and there is likely to be color in their vineyards. GO NOW!

Monument Campground, Lake Camanche (10/30/14) Terry Willard

Monument Campground, Lake Camanche (10/30/14) Terry Willard

Lake Camanche (Near Peak 50 – 75%) – Colorful fremont cottonwood and exotic trees are reflected in the Monument Campgrounds trout pond, providing an idyllic setting for RVers. GO NOW!

Castle Crags State Park (10/30/14) Cory Poole

Castle Crags State Park (10/30/14) Cory Poole

Castle Crags State Park (Near Peak 50 – 75%) – Cory Poole posted this photo of Castle Crags State Park on California Fall Color’s Facebook page, showing how the color is developing in Shasta County. GO NOW!

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley  (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (11/1/14) Sandy Steinman

Tilden Park, Berkeley (Patchy 10 – 50%) – Color spotty Sandy Steinman reports that fall color at East Bay Regional Parks’ Botanic Garden is mixed.  He writes there are no grand displays, but some nice color spots. Some decidous trees have peaked while other are still showing green.

Oakland Camp, Quincy (10/31/14) Mike Nellor

Oakland Camp, Quincy (10/31/14) Mike Nellor

Aspendell (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Aspendell (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

High Sierra (Peak 75 – 100%) – Three to six inches of snow fell in the High Sierra this weekend.  That’s a dusting of snow by Sierra standards.  Steve Wolfe and Mike Nellor captured snow and fall color in Inyo and Plumas Counties.  The combination of fall color and snow is dramatic and emotional, as seen in Mike’s shot of Oakland Camp.  This does not mean the fall color show has ended, only that it has moved to a different stage. GO NOW!

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (10/31/14) Steve Wolfe

Owens Valley (Peak – 75 – 100%) – Color spotter Steve Wolfe – on departing the Eastern Sierra provided this last report on the Owens Valley, where rabbitbrush, willows and black cottonwood are peaking with gorgeous tones of orange, yellow and gold. GO NOW!

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls Trail (11/1/14) Dan Riley

Switzer Falls (Past Peak) – Dan Riley sent these photos of: Switzer Falls in the Angeles National Forest.  The forest floor is orange with spent maple and black oak leaves. The Switzer Falls trail is an area from which we’ve not received photos, previously.  A tip for photographers – take pictures of places not seen on this site previously and you’re almost assured of getting them posted. YOU MISSED IT.

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Beauty Before The Storm

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Chinese pistache (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Northern California is braced for its first major storm of the coming winter. So, I took camera in hand this morning to photograph the exotic trees in my yard that are near peaking, to capture their beauty before the storm.

Chinese pistache (pistacia chinensis) is a slow-growing ornamental tree from China whose foliage turns day-glo orange to red with tones of yellow and green. Yesterday, I mentioned on Twitter that pistache have naturalized in Placerville.

Traveling through there on the way to Apple Hill, you see bright red balls of color at all of Placerville’s highway offramp areas.  It is evident that many of these pistache trees are volunteers that are now populating forests in and around Placerville, in the same way exotic pink flowering oleander are doing beside the Sacramento River between Redding and Shasta Dam.

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern Redbud (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Eastern redbud (cercis canadensis) are the fastest growing of redbuds and get 25 to 35 feet in height, according to the Sunset Western Garden Book.  We get many compliments about our redbud in all seasons, though particularly enjoy it now, when its large heart-shaped leaves turn yellow and are mixed with lime-colored brethren.

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red Oak (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Red oak (quercus rubra) is native to the east U.S.  It’s a handsome tree in summer, magnificent in autumn, then carries brown leaves through winter.  This is lovely with a dusting of snow, though it’s not my favorite winter coat on an oak.

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

Strawberry Tree (10/31/14) John Poimiroo

The Strawberry Tree (arbutus menziesii) is a madrone whose autumn branches dangle with brilliant orange to red berries. They’re delicious to the eye only.

El Dorado Hills (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Gardens and landscaped boulevards are near peak at 1,000 feet in the western Sierra foothills. GO NOW!

Apple Hill (Near Peak – 50-75%) – Apple orchards and vineyards surrounding Camino are full of golden, orange and brown color. GO NOW!

Placerville (Peak – 75-100%) – Exotic Chinese pistache are brightly crimson along US 50. GO NOW!

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Sacramento Fall Color Comparisons: iPhone or Nikon?

William Land Park, Sacramento (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone or Nikon? – You Guess] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

For a Monday morning live segment on Sacramento’s KCRA-TV3 about CaliforniaFallColor, I spent Saturday exploring Sacramento County.

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Mormon Island Wetland (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

Plaza Park, Fair Oaks [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave., [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave., [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave. [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

40th Ave. [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [iPhone] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento  [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

William Land Park, Sacramento [Nikon] (10/25/14) John Poimiroo

The color was patchy, though still beautiful with chartreuse sycamore and yellow and lime cottonwood throughout the County. Patchy fall color can be as lovely as full peak. Also, photographing fall color need not be about the grand landscape, it can also be about little places.

For this assignment, I carried two cameras, a Nikon D700 with Nikkor 28 – 300 3.5F AF lens and an iPhone 5S using Ollo Clip lenses (wide angle, fisheye and telephoto with polarizer).  I’ve been experimenting with the iPhone on travel writing assignments.

Images shot with an iPhone photographs are not as sharp as with a full frame digital camera like the Nikon.  Admittedly, I did not use a tripod which would have improved sharpness. And, the softness seen in these is exaggerated, because I used in-app filters.  I use Adobe Photoshop’s iPhone app to filter my photos, as the resulting images are remarkably appealing.

I began Saturday’s trek in Folsom.  While transiting town to US 50, I spotted golden crested cottonwood at Mormon Island Wetlands and pulled over to the curb on Sophia Parkway, shooting these two images with the Nikon while standing inside the Folsom city limits, proving that it isn’t necessary to drive hundreds of miles to find dramatic landscapes. They’re all around us when we’re observant.

Fair Oaks is a gentrified rural village outside Sacramento where roosters crow and have the run of town. None would cooperate for these photos of Plaza Park.

The American River has valley oak and black cottonwood that are still Just Starting.

The Fabulous 40s are tree-lined residential avenues in East Sacramento with landmark London Plane Trees (towering sycamore) creating canopies of leaf-heavy branches.  The scene is lovely though overwhelming, so I sat on the curb to put the scene in perspective by photographing a pile of leaves in the foreground.

William Land Park is Sacramento’s great central park, with a golf course, zoo, children’s fairytale town, ponds, lawns and lots of trees.  There are so many varieties of trees, that the color changes gradually from mid October through Thanksgiving day.

Pocket/Greenhaven, Sacramento (10/26/14) Sharon

Pocket/Greenhaven, Sacramento [HTC Android] (10/26/14) Sharon Chew

To confuse the conversation further, color spotter Sharon Chew provides this photo shot with her HTC Android phone of the boulevard of near peak liquidambar along Pocket Rd. at Greenhaven in southwest Sacramento.

Patchy – Sacramento County (10 – 50%) – Cottonwood and sycamore are showing lime, yellow and chartreuse throughout Sacramento County.  Still, way short of nearing peak, though lovely none the less.

[weatherlayer country=”United States” city=”Sacramento”]

 

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Carson Pass Peaking

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Carson Pass, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Carson Pass, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Today, we chose to search for California’s gold and found it peaking on Carson Pass.

The pass is the high point of State Route 88.  It was named after western explorer and scout, Kit Carson, who, in January 1844, proposed that the Frémont Expedition turn west in order to resupply at Sutter’s Fort in present-day Sacramento. Local Indians warned against attempting a winter crossing, but always impulsive, John C Frémont forged on across the Sierra, reaching Sutter’s Fort in March.

Four years later, Mormon emigrants blazed a route along what they called the Carson Trail, from Sly Park,  across Carson Pass to the Carson Valley in Nevada.  The route they laid out is now called Mormon Emigrant Trail. Our drive in search of golden leaves began on Hwy 50 in Folsom, traveling east along historic gold miner routes to Sly Park where we linked up with the Mormon Emigrant Trail.

The route is getting mixed reviews.  We thought there was nice color, though Nanci Knight, a veteran color spotter didn’t see as much orange (true) as she’d seen in past years and thought the yellows to be pale, particularly continuing beyond Hope Valley to Monitor Pass (many trees there got stripped of trees by strong winds, the weekend before last).  Nanci also conjectured poetically that the drought has reduced the amount of green growing beneath pines and aspen, “leaving a pervasive dull brown tableau of lifeless, gnarly dead wood/sticks.”

Narrow Leaf Willows, (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Willows, (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Mormon Emigrant Trail – The first color seen is an orange-yellow tinge to black oak leaves at 4,200′.  At 7,500′, willows shine bright yellow, though the color spots are so few and far between that the road is hardly worth exploring for fall color, though as a road that is historic, wide, straight and untraveled, Mormon Emigrant has few peers.

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – West Slope, Carson Pass (Hwy 88) – As you near Silver Lake, stands of bright yellow aspen speckle the forest at 7,500′ elevation.  A particularly good stand of very large, old aspen flickering bright yellow is found on the north side of the highway at elevation 7,200′ at the entrance to the Kirkwood Lake Road.

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

Red Lake Peak Rim Trail, Kirkwood (10/5/14) Kevin Cooper

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Kirkwood Mountain Resort – This was the weekend to be hiking goat trails surrounding the Kirkwood Mountain Resort, as color spotter Kevin Cooper (Coop) did to get these shots.  The hike got Coop psyched for Kirkwood’s new guided, off-piste backcountry ski experience called Expedition Kirkwood Backcountry that will explore deep powder bowls.

Caples Lake (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Caples Lake (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Caples Lake – The east shore of Caples lake has bands of day-glo orange-red and yellow aspen.  A nice view is from the fishing access parking area on the west shore of the lake at Caples Lake Resort.

East Slope, Carson Pass (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

East Slope, Carson Pass (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – East Slope, Carson Pass (Hwy 88) – The upper reaches of the Hope Valley near Carson Pass are at full peak.  We diverted driving a dirt road toward Red Lake to find a boulevard of yellow, peaking aspen.

Blue Lakes Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Blue Lakes Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Hope Valley Recreation Area – Blue Lakes Road which travels through the Hope Valley Recreation Area has little color along it.  Though there are a few brilliant stands.  The best we saw was a boulevard of yellow aspen just beyond the winter road closure gates, after passing the Hope Valley Campground.

Hope Valley (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Hope Valley (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Hope Valley – There’s still quite a bit of green and lime, particularly on the north side of the valley, though too are wide swaths of red, orange and yellow among fir and pine forests.

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Sorensen’s Resort – This popular collection of cabins set in a forest of towering aspen flickers with yellow.  Across Hwy 88, large groves of aspen are mostly yellow and orange, though some trees still have green or lime leaves in abundance.

Sorenson's Resort (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Sorensen’s Resort (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Big Meadow – A little yellow is ringing Big Meadow on State Route 89, north of the Hope Valley, though it is still mostly green and lime.  The drive up 89 to the meadow from Hope Valley passes through groves of very green aspen.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – U.S. 50 – Also called the Lincoln Highway, US 50 has a few pockets of yellow aspen on the west slope of its summit at 6,400′; black oak are beginning to be edged with orange and yellow at 5,400′, black cottonwood are turning gold at 3,600′ and bigleaf maple seem almost sun burned with edging of yellow and brown at 3,300′.  US 50 is not known for its color, but get off the highway near Placerville onto Newtown Road in late October to mid November, and you’ll drive along branch-draped roads of fall color.

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Wind Alert for Sierra Foothills

A wind alert for the Sierra Foothills has been posted by Sacramento area meteorologists, with gusts to 60 mph predicted.  So high a wind, even if in spurts, will put an end to autumn in the foothills and Central Valley.  The wind is predicted to intensify in the late afternoon, intensifying in the evening and continuing through Friday morning.

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Weather Arrives, Will Color Survive?

Bing Cherry, El Dorado Hills (11/17/13) John Poimiroo

Bing Cherry, El Dorado Hills (11/17/13) John Poimiroo

A storm will be crossing Northern and Central California today with rain and winds that are likely to strip trees of their color.  The show now has moved to sea level with urban forests at peak across the state.

This cherry tree was just beginning to turn when photographed on Sunday in the Sierra foothills.  In a storm, fully turned leaves are the most vulnerable.  They’ve lost much of their strength and are more easily blown from branches.  Still-green or slightly turned leaves will usually survive to turn color later.

The condition of California’s fall color is typical for this time of year with much of the best color still to be seen in urban forests where boulevard trees and parks will continue their show through Thanksgiving Day.  Parts of Southern California will still be turning through the holidays.

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Nevada City – Still Discovering Gold

Bigleaf maple, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Maple leaf, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Color spotter Dotty Molt (one of her photos was chosen as a California Fall Color Photo of the Week, sent to California media, last week) drove to Nevada City in the Gold Country, today to discover gold in the woods around this 1800s town.

Dotty reported, “Nevada City is a picturesque little town filled with surprisingly good restaurants, intriguing art galleries, and tree lined streets of historic homes that are still holding onto leaves of brilliant yellow, red, and orange.

Deer Creek Tribute Trail, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Deer Creek Tribute Trail, Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

The Deer Creek Tribute Trail, which runs through this tiny town, is past peak, but definitely worth a trip back next year. Go now just to walk along the streets and enjoy the crisp fall air.”

Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

Nevada City (11/16/13) Dotty Molt

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Nevada City – While the woods surrounding Nevada City are  past peak, trees along the city’s blocks are still holding their color.  With a change in weather approaching, you probably ought to get there now, to see the remaining color, though it’s worth a trip, just for the autumn atmosphere that’s in the crisp Sierra Foothill air.

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California’s Urban Forests are – in a word – “Glorious”

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Acapulco St., Campbell (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

A road trip from the Sierra Foothills to Silicon Valley and back, today, provided opportunities to see how color is developing along the I-80, I-680 and I-880 corridors.  In a word, it is “glorious.”

Land Park, Sacramento (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Land Park, Sacramento (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Sacramento – Piles of leaves along Sacramento streets are a sure sign that the fall color is past peak on some species.  Sycamore are among them, though other large species in Sacramento are still yellow and orange, with spots of red.  Land Park, south of U.S. 50 and the Fabulous 40s in midtown have the best displays of color.

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – Dixon Agricultural Corridor – Orchards between Davis and Vacaville are at peak.

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Danville Oak (File Photo) Yelp

Danville Oak (File Photo) Yelp

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon – Native oak are softly pastel orange, while exotic species are blazing.  Color spotter Linnea Wahamaki sent along these shots taken this past week at the Livery Shopping Center in Danville.  We tip our hat to Danville which, Linnea reports, “Does a good job of planting and protecting trees, and is really gorgeous during the autumn season – as is evident by these stunning trees!”  Danville is one of California’s Cities of Trees, even with a landmark oak that has it’s own Yelp page.

Palo Alto (11/17/13) Mathias Van Hesemans

Palo Alto (11/17/13) Mathias Van Hesemans

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – San Francisco Peninsula – The Peninsula communities of Burlingame, Hillsborough, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton are providing the best show of color in the Bay Area.

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Livery Shopping Center, Danville (11/13/13) Linnea Wahamaki

Leaf pile on Pine in San Jose (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Leaf pile on Pine in San Jose (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Pomagranate, Silicon Valley (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

Pomegranate, Silicon Valley (11/15/13) John Poimiroo

 

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Silicon Valley – The Santa Clara County communities of Campbell, Los Gatos and San Jose are dressed in fall foliage.  Brilliant stands of gingko are found along the boulevards.  Before it became known as Silicon Valley (for the silicon chips produced here by Intel), the Santa Clara Valley was known for growing fruit (apricots, plums and other tree fruit).

Today, a pomegranate bush along Pine in San Jose was heavy with ripe fruit.