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Shine On Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon, Lassen Peak (9/23/18) Chico Hiking Association

Mountain Maples and Oceanspray (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

Mountain Maples (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

Indian Rhubarb, Deer Creek, CA-32 (9/24/18) Chico Hiking Association

On its explorations yesterday, the Chico Hiking Association captured the harvest moon (the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox) rising over Lassen National Park.

A harvest moon is called such, because it puts out a lot of bright light in early evening, that has traditionally aided farmers with bringing in the harvest, the Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us.

Harvest moons also have the shortest difference in the time that they rise each day. Whereas in other months of the year, moons rise about 50 minutes apart on each successive day. Near the autumnal equinox, a harvest moon rises both near sunset and 30 minutes later than the previous day.

That is a yearly minimum difference which explains why it can appear that there are multiple full moons in a row. If you happened to photograph this year’s harvest moons, send images to We’d love to share them.

On its weekend explorations, CHA visited Elam Campground in Lassen National Forest (50 mi. east of Chico) where sunlight, not a harvest moon, illuminated the gold and orange foliage of Mountain Maple, Acer glabrum, and Oceanspray, Holodiscus discolor, formidable shrubs ( 5 to 20′ tall) that grow along rocky slopes.

Indian Rhubarb, Darmera, are approaching Near Peak beside CA-32 along Deer Creek.

Elsewhere in the Shasta Cascade Region, color spotter Jeff Titcomb sent the following snaps of a variety of native and exotic foliage exhibiting early peak color, including: California wild grape, firethorn (pyracantha), Pacific dogwood, bigleaf maple, and chokecherry. 

Elam Campground (4,380′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

California Wild Grape , Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Firethorn, pyracantha, Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Pacific dogwood, Quincy (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf Maple. Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Bigleaf maple, Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Chokecherry, Greenville (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Chokecherry (9/22/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb



Aspen Return to Lassen NF

Aspen, Bogard Campground, Lassen NF (9/6/18) Chico Hiking Association

In 2003, Lassen National Forest began an aspen restoration project near the Bogard Campground and Susan River off Hwy 44 on the way to the Black Lake Loop trail in the Caribou Wilderness. (More about what the US Forest Service accomplished will be posted here, soon. However, in the photos above and to the left, note the mature aspen surrounded by young aspen. This shows what the forest will look like, once this grove ages.)

Aspen, Black Lake Loop, Lassen NF (9/6/18) Chico Hiking Association

Today, the aspen are growing and spreading. Arlaine Arslan of the Chico Hiking Association (CHA) reports, “There’s also very small grove along the Posey Lake Loop trail and road side along the Susan River on the way to the Black Lake Loop trailhead.”  In recognition of Lassen National Forest’s accomplishment, Black Lake Loop is honored as this week’s Hike of the Week.

The Chico Hiking Association promotes hiking trails within about two hours of Chico, providing maps, directions and the links needed to get to the Chico area’s best hiking trails, many of which have lovely fall color. In spring and summer, CHA focuses on wildflowers, while in autumn and early winter they are fall color spotters.

Aspen, Black Lake Loop, Lassen NF (9/6/18) Chico Hiking Association

Eastern Sierra aspen are legendary for their profuse color, though many smaller, though still inspirational, groves can be discovered in the Northern Sierra near Chico. Hikers often find these trails lightly tread with few worn spots where others planted their tripods or stood.

CHA hopes to change perceptions that only bigleaf maple, black oak and Indian rhubarb are to be found in this lightly visited part of Upper California, and that their trails are a mind-clearing alternative to more congested fall color destinations.


Dwarf Billberry, Black Lake Loop, Lassen NF (9/6/18) Chico Hiking Association

Maps leading hikers from the highest point in the Coastal Range ( Mt Linn) to the highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Cascade Range (Butt Mountain), as well as to Lassen Peak, are produced by CHA, many along routes forested with fall color. Learn more at

Just Starting (0-10%) – Lassen National Forest (5,600′) – Aspen groves at Bogard Campground and along the Black Lake Loop are exhibiting some of the earliest fall color yet reported in California.


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Color Begins in the Meadows

California Corn Lillies, Spencer Meadow, Lassen National Forest (8/30/18) Chico Hiking Association

In their enthusiasm to appreciate trees, color spotters often overlook meadows. However, that’s where early, delicate color is often first seen.

Willows, Spencer Meadow, Lassen National Forest (8/30/18) Chico Hiking Association

On a hike through Spencer Meadow in Lassen National Forest, members of the Chico Hiking Association scored a First Report (the first report for a specific location on and found such beauty among willows and California Corn Lillies in the meadow.

Chico Hiking Association reports they plan a series of fall color hikes and will be submitting photos to document what they’re seeing on their hikes. That’s such a great idea for hiking clubs that we have designated the Spencer Meadow trail as our first Hike of the Week of Autumn. 

Just Starting (0-10%) – Spencer Meadow, Lassen National Forest