Stockton Surprises

Calaveras Big Trees State Park (10/22/16) Jeff Hemming

Stockton Record travel columnist Tim Viall turned to for advice on the autumn show in his latest column, “Forget New England”. Now, we turn to Tim for advice on where to find fall color near Stockton.

His top five picks include:

  • CA-88 – Hope Valley (7,300′)
  • CA-108 – Dardanelle’s Resort (5,700′)
  • CA – 4 – Calaveras Big Trees State Park (4,800′)
  • CA – 4 – Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys (2,172′)
  • CA-99 – Cosumnes River Preserve (15′)

Bravo, Tim. All good choices. In checking our archives, each of them has been featured in previous years.

Tim adds urban forests in downtown Stockton, Lodi and Modesto of which we agree. California’s Central Valley cities were all planted with towering shade trees (London Plane Trees) as refuge from hot summer temperatures. Those trees create beautiful falls of leaves in autumn. Many exotics have been planted for seasonal color and fill the cities with crimson, hot pink, electric yellow, orange and lime, as well.

When deciding when to go, use the same approach used throughout California. Measure peak according to how it is descending in the Sierra.

The Hope Valley will be the first to peak in a week to a week and a half, then the Dardanelle’s Resort and Calaveras Big Trees, down to Murphys and the Gold Country before reaching the valley’s river preserves and wildlife refuges.

As for wildlife refuges, we would add the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi for its exceptional show of Sandhill Cranes (now there).


Don’t Leave Home

Stevens Canyon Rd., Cupertino (11/13/20) Vishal Mishra

The San Jose Mercury News explains how to see fall color without straying far from home, referencing as a guide to seeing fall color nearby. To read their analysis, CLICK HERE.

Best Outdoor Medium

Mallard hen and Kokanee salmon, Taylor Creek (10/30/20) John Poimiroo was chosen as Medium of the Year within the Outdoor Writers Association of California’s 2021 Excellence in Craft Awards.

The site also swept the contest’s Digital Platform category for its photographic essays including 1st Place Siskiyou Sonata and 3rd Place Davis Dessert by Philip Reedy. And the above image was awarded a 2nd Place in the Action Image category.

OWAC is California’s largest association of professional outdoor journalists.


We’re Number One!

In losing trees, that is.

According to a study done by LawnStarter, California leads the nation in deforestation.

LawnStarter compared the 50 states and District of Columbia across eight key metrics and over four time periods to determine where tree cover has shrunk most. They found that California led significantly over second-place Oregon in overall ranking, one-year, five-year and ten-year rankings.

Our ignominious accomplishment was described by LawnStarter in this way: “California not only ranked No. 1 overall among the States That Lost the Most Tree Cover, but it also swept every single metric.”

Now, don’t start cheering. Fire was described as a leading cause of tree loss in 2020, resulting from our worst wildfire season ever, “destroying some of its oldest green giants: redwoods, sequoias (sic.) and Joshua trees. California wildfires ravaged over 4 million acres – an area bigger than Connecticut – accounting for 40% of the total acres burned across the U.S.

“California lost more tree canopy than any other state in every time period we logged, mostly due to wildfires but also to drought and pests.” LawnStarter’s press announcement reported.

Why this matters is that the world is losing trees fast. The U.S. is no different. “Between 2009 and 2014, U.S. cities and rural communities collectively lost 36 million trees, per year.” LawnStarter translates that to the equivalent of saving “$96 million annually by lowering our energy bills, cleaning the air and capturing harmful carbon that contributes to climate change.”

Sadly, 2020 may not be California’s record year for wildfire. It could well be in front of us, as this is a drought year with barren reservoirs and high levels of evaporation already recorded.

Being number one in this category is an achievement we ought not celebrate.

Photo credit: B Street, Arcata (12/5/20) Michelle Pontoni

SF Peaks at SFGate

SFGate, the San Francisco Chronicle’s online presence, turned to for news about where it’s peaking in the San Francisco Bay Area. CLICK HERE to read what they reported.


Best In The West: Philip Reedy

Black oak and bigleaf maple detritus, Mossbrae Falls, Dunsmuir (10/25/19) Philip Reedy contributor Philip Reedy was recognized as one of the Best in the West in the recent Outdoor Writers Association (OWAC) Excellence in Craft Awards for his photographic work in multiple categories.

The OWAC press release, received today stated, “Reedy won Best Outdoor Action Photograph for his image “Advice from Grandpa” published in the Trout Unlimited 2020 Calendar (July) and also took first place in the Best Outdoor Medium category with Southwest Fly Fishing magazine. For his Northwest Fly Fishing magazine cover he received second place honors in Best Outdoor Feature Photograph, as well as second place in Best Outdoor Photographic Series for images published on the Worldwide Web at

A Wild Report

Heading out into The Wild? Well, don’t do so without first reading the Los Angeles Times’ The Wild, edited by Mary Forgione.

In the above number, she connects with us, the color spotters and “leaf lovers” (her term, but one we like and will add to our lexicon) who set out to The Wild in search of fall color. Subscribe HERE.

California’s Best Outdoor Internet Site

OWAC 2020 EIC 1st Place, Best Outdoor Feature Photo, Red Lake Creek Cabin (10/8/19) John Poimiroo has been named California’s Best Outdoor Internet Site for 2020.

The honor (presented by the Outdoor Writers Association of California resulting from its annual Excellence in Craft Media Communications Competition) was given to this site by a panel of nationally recognized, award-winning, outdoor media professionals who selected entries on the basis of “the highest level of professionalism and talented execution.”

OWAC 2020 EIC Best Outdoor Video

In addition to being named Best Outdoor Internet Site, Editor John Poimiroo was selected as OWAC Outdoor Writer of the Year, and received first place honors for Best Outdoor Feature Photograph (Red Lake Creek Cabin), Best Outdoor Video and Best Photographic Series (CFC photojournalist Philip Reedy placed second in this category with photos published on CFC); placed second in the John Reginato Conservation Award for his San Francisco Chronicle article, “Why Wildfires Pose an Existential Threat to California Tourism;” and received two third place awards for Best Outdoor Action Photograph (Snow Geese) and Best OWAC Conference-related Entry (Siskiyou Sonata, shared with Philip Reedy).

OWAC 2020 EIC 3rd Place, Best Action Photo, Snow Geese, Colusa NWR (11/23/19) John Poimiroo


The San Francisco Chronicle’s website, SFGate, reviewed where and how to see California’s fall color during the pandemic and following forest closures. To read what they had to say, CLICK HERE.

U.S. Forests Reopen

Nine National Forests (Eldorado NF, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen NF, Mendocino NF, Modoc NF, Plumas NF, Shasta-Trinity NF, Stanislaus NF and the Tahoe NF) were given the green light to reopen today by the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

“These forests will implement their own forest orders,” a USFS Forest Service press release stated, “that will either limit dispersed use or provide for area closures around fires.”

Remaining closed are: Angeles NF, Cleveland NF, Los Padres NF, Inyo NF, Klamath NF, San Bernardino NF, Sequoia NF, Sierra NF and Six Rivers NF, subject to daily review dependent upon evolving fire and weather conditions.

For fall color spotters this means that the prime early viewing areas of Bishop Creek Canyon (Inyo County) and Rock Creek Canyon (Mono County) as well as other Eastern Sierra viewing spots remain closed or with limited access. Heavy smoke (as reported yesterday) obstructs or reduces the beauty of color to be seen in those areas, for the moment.

To see a map of current forest closures, CLICK HERE.