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Willows and Woodpeckers

Early fall is the time to combine woodpecker watching with fall color spotting in San Diego County, Mark Hanning-Lee reports.

Near the Paso Picacho Campground this week, Acorn Woodpeckers were busy hammering storage holes for their winter store of acorns, while county byways were blushing with rosy shrubs and lighting up with yellow willows.

  • San Diego County – Just Starting (0-10%)
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Look, Don’t Touch

Pacific Poison Oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (9/29/19) Dylan Ren

If ever there were a plant that fits the expression, “look don’t touch,” it is Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum, which grows throughout California.

In autumn, poison oak vines drape trees and shrubs with ornamental rosy, red leaves. Stories abound of unaware foragers collecting beautiful poison oak leaves for a fall bouquet or centerpiece. As, it’s tempting to touch the leaves, tho the red color warns, “stay away.” Instead, follow the old adage, “leaflets three, let them be.”

The result of such harvesting can be a painful, persistent rash that begs to be itched, but shouldn’t.

San Diego County color spotters Dylan Ren and Jean Pan found such enticing ornaments draped from trees and burned stumps as they explored Palomar Mountain State Park on Sunday.

Most of the trees are “still very green,” Jean wrote, though though we hope she and Dylan followed the adage and let the poison oak be that they saw growing near the state park pay station.

  • Palomar Mountain State Park (6,138′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
Pacific Poison Oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (9/29/19) Dylan Ren
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Orchard Pickings

Apple tree, Los Rios Orchard, Oak Glen Rd. (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan

Visiting orchards has become a late-autumn tradition, with Californians heading to Julian for apple dumplings, to Oak Glen for cider-infused mini donuts, to San Luis Obispo for hard cider, to Sebastopol for U-pick apples, to Kelseyville in Lake County for a Pear Belle Helene (pear ice cream sundae), and to Apple Hill in Camino for apple pies.

With so many calories ahead, Southern California color spotter Ravi Ranganathan recommends walking the Oak Glen Preserve Botanical Garden in Yucaipa, soon after the trail opens at 8 a.m. It’s  got kid-friendly sections, as well as others that get your heart pumping and “beautiful fall colors along the trail.”

Of course, if that hike works up your appetite, head over to Snow Line Orchard for their delicious apple-cider-infused mini donuts and a glass of freshly pressed cider. Ravi recommends picnicking under an ancient chestnut tree beside an apple orchard. 

  • Julian – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Oak Glen – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • San Luis Obispo – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Sebastopol – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Kelseyville – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Camino – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
Chestnut and apple orchard, Snow Line Orchard, Oak Glen Rd (11/11/18) Ravi Ranganathan
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Mt. Laguna: Sunrise Highway

Black oak, Sunrise National Scenic Byway (10/28/18) Dylan Ren

The Sunrise Highway (S1) – a national scenic byway – travels through the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego.

The road rises from 4000′ to 6000′, making it ideal terrain to see black oak at peak in autumn.

Jean Pan and Dylan Ren drove the highway on Sunday, which is about an hour’s drive from San Diego, reporting that “the leaves are looking really nice!”

“Between mile marker 21-26, there are a lot of black oaks at both sides of the road.” Jean said, recommending stops at the Laguna/El Prado campground and the Morris Ranch road area whose small loop near the visitor center which she said has the best color.

Since Jean and Dylan rated the highway as now being at Peak, I’m urging to GO NOW. As, I can’t recall the Laguna Mountains lasting more than a week at peak, due to the dry conditions and small band of peak color.

Not identified on the highway is a scenic overlook at the summit of Mt. Laguna. To reach it, turn right past the Desert View picnic area and continue up the mountain ’til the road ends, SoCalRegion.com recommends.

There are no services along the route, which was first built in the 1920s, though are found at Lake Cuyamaca and Pine Valley. There’s also a general store and restaurant at Mt. Laguna. 

  • Sunrise Highway, Laguna Mountains, San Diego County (5,623′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
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Apple Harvest

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

As American as … Apple Hill, Julian and Oak Glen.

These California apple harvest destinations are famous for their cider, pie, strudels, confections and sauce, all made of apples, of course.

Even though the apple pie was invented in England, the following prove that nothing could be truer than the expression “as American as apple pie:”

  • In El Dorado County, Apple Hill is so popular that a free shuttle bus system has been established to keep the roads in Camino from becoming gridlocked on autumn weekends;
  • Ten restaurants serve apple pie in Julian, a city of 1,500 (San Diego County) and
  • Twenty-four varieties of apples are grown and sold at Oak Glen (San Bernardino County).

That’s just the start of why autumn adventures in apple country has become such a tradition for Californians. Presently, fall color is Just Starting, though the apple harvest is happening, and Americans LOVE their apples.

San Bernardino County color spotter Alena Nicholas was there, today, and sent these images, but no apple pie. C’mon, Alena, share the love. 

  • Apple Hill, Camino (3,133′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Oak Glen (4,734′) – Just Starting (10-50%)
  • Julian (4,226′) – Just Starting (10-50%)

 

Oak Glen (10/12/18) Alena Nicholas

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Orange Friday

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Color spotters across California will avoid waiting in lines today, on Black Friday. Instead, they will be appreciating an Orange Friday at Peak to Past Peak locations like these. GO NOW! You almost missed it.

North Coast

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

Napa Valley (11/19/17) Tracy Zhou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

Napa Valley (11/23/17) Vasu Nargundkar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Valley

Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Merlin falcon, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Prairie falcon, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

Red-shouldered hawk, Mathews Ln./CA-20, Tambo (11/21/17) Robert Kermen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

Davis (11/19/17) Phillip Reedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shasta Cascade

Meadow Valley (11/12/17) Michael Beatley

San Francisco Bay Area

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (11/14/17) Michael Beatley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

Fairfax (11/23/17) Al Auger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Diego County

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

Old Hwy 80, Boulder Oaks (11/22/17) Walt Gabler

 

 

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School Colors

UC San Diego (10/27/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

UC San Diego (10/27/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

The Tritons of the University of California San Diego have Navy blue and gold as their school colors, though judging from these photographs taken on campus, perhaps they should have chosen pink, purple, green and gold.

Plumas County color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb didn’t forget the rest of us color spotters when he traveled to San Diego. Instead he sent these shots of color blooming and turning on exotic boulevard trees at UC San Diego (fall color creds to whomever can ID them).

UC San Diego – Peak (75-100%) – How else could we classify such beautiful color? GO NOW!

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SoCal: Lake Gregory and Mt. Palomar Near Peak

Waterslide and black oaks, Lake Gregory (10/15/17) Micayla Anderson

Maple, Lake Gregory (10/15/17) Micayla Anderson

Black oak, Lake Gregory (10/15/17) Micayla Anderson

Now that days and nights are colder, the only thing sliding down the waterslide at Lake Gregory are fallen black oak leaves, Micayla Anderson reports.

Southern California’s mountain forests are now shedding their leaves as they evolve from Near Peak to Peak.

In the San Bernardino Mountains, Lake Gregory in Crestline is nearing peak with black oak and exotic maples showing orange, yellow and red.

Black oak, Mt. Palomar (10/15/17) John Caffrey

Fremont cottonwood, Mt. Palomar (10/15/17) John Caffrey

Dogwood, Mt. Palomar (10/15/17) John Caffrey

Black oak, dogwood and Frémont cottonwood at Mt. Palomar in San Diego County are showing near peak orange, rose and gold.

Lake Gregory (4,554′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Mt. Palomar (6,138′) -Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

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Mt. Laguna Majesty

Black Oak (10/12/17) Shane Coker

Black oak (10/12/17) Shane Coker

Often, a photograph is more than a reflection of reality, it is a glimpse into another reality.

That’s what color spotter Shane Coker took away from his drive over Mt. Laguna, through Julian and Lake Cuyamaca, yesterday.

His drive provided our first report from San Diego County, but more, it provided a glimpse of this photographer’s vision.

Mt. Laguna (5,738′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!

Julian (4,226′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!

Lake Cuyamaca (4,613′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) GO NOW!

Frémont cottonwood (10/12/17) Shane Coker

Frémont Cottonwood (10/12/17) Shane Coker

Black oak (10/12/17) Shane Coker

 

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Autumn Blooms

Pink Floss-Silk Tree, Southern California (10/11/17) Kathy Jonokuchi

Pink Floss-Silk Tree, Southern California (10/11/17) Kathy Jonokuchi

Color spotter Kathy Jonokuchi shared these images on our Facebook page (@CalifFallColor) of the Pink Floss-Silk tree, an exotic that blooms in mid autumn.

It is another aspect of fall color that is seen only in California and other Mediterranean climates, during autumn.