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The Bronx

Van Courtlandt Park, The Bronx, NYC (11/9/20) Gene Obermuller

Coming from the third-most densely populated county in the United States and a place not known for foliage, these images of The Bronx may be surprising.

East Coast color spotter Eugene Obermuller took them while out on a bike ride through Van Courtlandt Park in northwest New York City.

Today, the Bronx is mostly concrete, but at one time, of course, it was open, forested land. The Bronx gets its name from Swedish-born Jonas Bronck who established the first European settlement in the area, as part of the New Netherland colony in 1639.

Previously inhabited by the native Siwanoy band of Lenape Indians (known as the Delawares), it was called Keskeskeck. Dutch settlers bought tracts of land from local tribes and Bronck accumulated 500 acres between the Harlem River and Aquahung (later the Bronx River) to establish Bronck’s Land.

On Bronck’s Land, farms spread and manses were raised. One, built by mercatilist Fredrick Van Courtlandt in 1748 remains as a historical museum and as one of the nation’s finest best examples of Georgian architecture.

If the metaphorical tree that grows in Brooklyn flourishes even in the midst of the inner city, then Van Courtlandt Park is The Bronx equivalent. Only, it’s real.

Score Peak color for one of the boroughs of New York City on an unusual visit to a forested corner of the home of the Yankees.

  • The Bronx, NY (169′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Goin’ to Carolina

Carolina Country (10/30/20) Alena Nicholas

Like California, Alena Nicholas reports, color in the Carolinas changes by elevation. Since relocating there from Southern California, Alena has watched fall color descend, as it does here. Only, she found that as it does, it passes sights not common here.

In her search for fall color, Alena has explored the Tar Heel state’s (so called, because of its pine forest that produced pitch-based products) inlets, hills, swamps, and lighthouses, discovering bright spots of autumn near wild horses, verdant marshes, alligators and lighthouses.

Carolina Courser (10/31/20) Alena Nicholas

While touring the Outer Banks near Virginia, Alena found wild horses roaming the beaches, sand dunes, forests and homesites.

The Carolina lighthouses she toured were surrounded by autumn grasses. They’re now mostly maintained just as scenic landmarks, she explained, irrelevant in an age of GPS navigation, but increasingly relevant at a time when inspirational places have never been more necessary.

Like the west coast, Carolina autumn sunrises and sunsets are colorful, but unlike California, there are plenty of alligators lurking around the coastal “Low Country”. 

Carolina Color (11/3/20) Alena Nicholas
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Sun Sets on Minnesota

Minnesota (10/28/20) Barry Calfee

Barry Calfee was in Elk River, Minnesota last week and shares these images of the end of autumn there and the beginning of winter.

Barry noted a mix of Peak to Past Peak birch, aspen and maple which only hints at the glory that was seen two weeks previously.

  • Elk River, Minnesota (896′) – Past Peak, You Missed It.
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Citrus Salad

Lam Watah Historic Trail, Stateline, NV (11/1/20) Michelle Pontoni

“It is not too late to see the citrus salad colors we love so much near the southern shore of Lake Tahoe. GO NOW!.” Michelle Pontoni writes.

After this site had written off Lake Tahoe as Past Peak, Michelle send this report. She and Ron spent late Sunday afternoon on bikes, “enjoying some of the final color on the Lam Watah Historic Trail off Kahle Road (Stateline, NV).  We found flaming orange aspen tops with yet a bit of lime and lemon nearer the ground.  Most of the foliage is still hanging on in one of the groves.  This is an easy trail for visitors and families with dogs, too.”

On this recommendation, CaliforniaFallColor.com is declaring the Lam Watah Nature Trail the Bike of the Week.

She warns, however, the next few days are likely the last chance to see such beauty at Tahoe, as “a cold, windy weekend is approaching, with possibly a hint of snow coming Friday evening, so Saturday could be an opportunity to see fall and winter overlap.”

That is an excellent point. Snow on fall color is gorgeous. If you’ve ever hoped to catch such a scene, head to Lake Tahoe to be there Saturday morning.

You’ll find this grove by driving east on US 50 into Nevada from South Lake Tahoe a mile to Kahle Road. Turn left into the parking lot.

Lovin’ Lam Watah, Stateline (11/1/20) Michelle Pontoni

Be there just as the snow storm ends and clouds break to get the best photos of snow and aspen color, then send them to us to share with those who’ll be kicking themselves for having stayed warm and cozy inside. 

  • Lam Watah Historic Trail, Stateline, NV (6,275′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Tahoe’s Time

Quaking aspen, Lake Tahoe (10/19/20) Clayton Peoples

It’s Tahoe’s time to shine. Lake Tahoe often gets missed because it follows peak in the Hope Valley. As Lake Tahoe comes into its own, there’s still enough color in the Hope Valley to attract those looking for densely lush color. So, Lake Tahoe gets overlooked.

Color spotter Clayton Peoples, lives within striking distance (Reno), so he has the advantage of getting up to the lake fairly often and notes that Tahoe’s mix of vegetation and elevations, from lake level (6,200′) to the rim, complicate assessing peak, as a variety of tree at a lower elevation may be peaking, while a different variety, higher up, might not.

He mentions the predominant tree at lake level, the black cottonwood, which are now Patchy, as are the lake’s white and mountain alder, willows, and mountain and rocky mountain maple that grow on slopes surrounding the lake. Clayton estimates a week to two before they peak.

Quaking aspen, Lake Tahoe (10/19/20) Clayton Peoples

Yet, Quaking aspen at all elevations are peaking. A few holdouts remain, “but the majority are sporting yellow, orange, even red. Aspen near CA-89, west of Taylor Creek are holding onto their leaves better than usual, and are at full Peak. This is also true of those along Luther Pass, between Meyers and the Hope Valley,” he asserts.

And, as reported yesterday in Tahoe Nevada Peaks Red, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is now at Peak and glorious.

This means it’s Tahoe’s time. To see Tahoe’s aspen at their best, go now, but you can expect to enjoy seeing lots of other foliage (cottonwood, maple, alder, willows) at peak in the coming two weeks.

  • Lake Tahoe (6,225′) – Patchy to Peak (10-100%) GO NOW!
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Tahoe Nevada Peaks Red

North Canyon, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park (10/18/20) Phil Farrell

With peak color dropping out of the Hope Valley, Lake Tahoe is next up.

Phil Farrell hiked the four-mile length of North Canyon, in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, accessed from Spooner Lake.

He found Pacific aspen at peak, and estimates this will last another week, as there are some very green trees.

A quarter of the aspen have turned red, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park (10/18/20) Phil Farrell

About a quarter of the aspen are turning red. That’s something seen throughout the Sierra. Where in previous years the trees were mostly yellow, we’re now seeing them blush.

Aspen are distributed along the full length of North Canyon, with larger groves covering theowl at its head.

  • North Canyon, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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The Virginias

Pond, Blue Ridge Mountains (10/11/20) Alena Nicholas

Last year, Southern California color spotter Alena Nicholas relocated to the Carolinas, but she didn’t leave CaliforniaFallColor.com and has become an eastern correspondent.

A autumn excursion through Virginia and West Virginia was her first photo safari through “The Virginias.”

Alena focused on the elements of autumn in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains uncommon to California: vibrant red leaves, grist mills, a moonshine still, iridescent white tail deer and rain.

She noticed “quite a variety of colors in the area. Also, more rolling hills and ponds,” instead of the alpine mountains and lakes she photographed in the Sierra Nevada, and noted that it rained quite often, creating a natural gray card in the sky.

Alena promises photographs from the “low country” of the Carolinas, which is reputed to have remarkable color in late October to early November.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia (6,683′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Simply Marvelous at Marlette

Flume Trail, Marlette Lake State Park (10/15/20) Barry Calfee

Comedian Billy Crystal, in his impersonation of actor Fernando Llamas, used to joke, “You look marvelous, simply marvelous.”

That can be said of Lake Marlette on the east side of Lake Tahoe, presently. “It looks marvelous, simply marvelous.”

Color spotter and cyclist Barry Calfee was there yesterday and reported that the Flume Trail was lined with peak fall color between Spooner Lake and Lake Marlette.

The trail passes picturesque Spencer’s cabin, a 280-square-foot cattleman’s cabin from the 1920s to the 1960s.

  • Lake Marlette (7,823′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Almost Heaven

Glade Creek Grist Mill, Babcock State Park, West Virginia (10/12/20) Alena Nicholas

When John Denver first sang the words to Take Me Home, Country Roads, many of us thought, “Yeah, sure … West Virginia.”

The Mountain State has long been synonymous with the backwoods … coal mines … country folk … seclusion. It has always been remote, and that remoteness led to its being discovered as a place of retreat and restoration.

West Virginia’s first tourists were the carriage trade who could afford to travel for relief from the “heat, humidity and disease of the ‘sickly season,'” Wikipedia recounts.

As early as the late 1700s, wealthy people traveled to White Sulfur Springs for their health and by the beginning of the 19th century, it was considered to be the “Queen of the Watering Places” in the South and one of the country’s first summer destinations.

There, the Greenbriar, the nation’s first golf resort, continues that tradition as one of the country’s largest and most exclusive resorts, one of several elite retreats.

Though more often today, West Virginia’s mountains, hills and forests attract down-to-earth rock climbers, skiers, hikers, backpackers, hunters, anglers and nature lovers in search of the state tree, the sugar maple.

So, when Alena Nicholas’ photograph of a West Virginia mill stream arrived, it relit images of John Denver’s words …

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.

Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze.

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads.

All my memories gather ’round her
Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water.

Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye.

(refrain)

I hear her voice in the mornin’ hour, she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away.

Drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’
That I should’ve been home yesterday, yesterday.

(refrain)

John Denver
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East + Drought = Early

Mt. Talcott, CT (10/11/20) Eugene Obermuller

East coast color spotter Eugene Obermuller reports from Avon, Connecticut that drought adds up to early fall color in the northeast.

A resident of Yonkers, NY, Gene headed north for a fall color visit to northern Connecticut and southern Massachusetts, visiting Simsbury, CT, home of the Pinchot sycamore (Plantanus Occidentalis), the state’s largest tree with a trunk measured at 28 feet in circumference (America’s second-largest sycamore).

During Obermuller’s visit, fly fishermen were busy whipping the Housatonic and pumpkins were lined for the picking at a church in Simsbury. All part of autumn in New England.

Simsbury, CT (10/11/20) Eugene Obermuller
  • Avon, Connecticut (276′) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now!