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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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Color Drops Below a Mile in the San Jacintos

Color spotter Jim Beau was in Idyllwild on Friday and reported, “It looks like this might be the last weekend of fall color in Southern California’s mountains (above a mile high).  Driving southbound from I-10 on Hwy 243, the oaks were pretty much done for the year.   

“On Thanksgiving weekend last year, we hit Idyllwild at peak fall color.  In comparison, this year was a bit of a disappointment.   Since a weak winter storm has moved into the area this weekend, it was pretty dreary up there, yesterday.  And, I don’t expect what little is left to last into next weekend.  So, it looks like it’s time to head to the lower elevations for fall color in Southern California.” 

Past Peak – Idyllwild – Black oaks  are now cloaked only in rusty brown leaves.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Mountain Center/Lake Hemet (4,500′) – Heading west on Hwy 74 near Mountain Center, there is a nice, mile-long section of oaks and a few cottonwoods at peak.

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Hwy 74 (below 4,000′) – Heading west toward Hemet, the cottonwoods and sycamores were just starting to turn yellow and chartreuse.

 


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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.

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The Fire Keeps Burning in the Shasta Cascade

Chico (11/14/13) Stephany

Esplanade Ave., Chico (11/14/13) Stephany Fernandez

This long season of fall color keeps glowing in the Shasta Cascade with most of the region almost or past peak.  Still, there’s lovely color to be seen in Tehama County (Red Bluff), Shasta County (Redding), Trinity County (Weaverville) and in Butte County (Chico).  Here’s the latest from color spotter Grace Smith.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Tehama County – In its second week of full peak, Tehama County is showing varied color with some trees now dropping leaves. Maples are bright red and orange. Oaks are still short of peak, though deep amber to brown.  Bright yellow and burnt orange can also be seen on many trees throughout the county.

Citrus St., Chico (11/14/13) Stephany Fernandez

Citrus St., Chico (11/14/13) Stephany Fernandez

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Shasta County – Now in its third week of reported peak, Shasta County still has more color to give, though leaves are dropping rapidly. Oaks are yellowish to amber with some brown, and are about half there. Maples are at peak, with bright red and orange and some remaining yellow. Many are shedding color.  Top places to view the color are: The Sacramento River Trail, McConnell Arboretum, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta Lake, Clear Creek, the Battle Creek Wildlife Area near Coleman Fish Hatchery, and Anderson River Park.

Fall color at Chico State (11/14/13) Liliana Navia

GO NOW! – 50 – 75% – Butte County – Butte County is finally approaching peak with things starting to change rapidly. Many trees have lost a lot of their color, though there are broad splashes of brilliant yellow, orange and red at Bidwell Park, Chico State, the Hwy 32 Corridor, the Hwy 99 corridor, Esplanade Ave, Manzanita Ave., and Mangrove Ave in the Chico area.

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Trinity County – Trinity County is bordering on past peak, though color spotter Grace Smith reports glimpses of fall color remaining along the drainages.  This, however, should be past peak within the week.

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How Do It Know!?

Blue oak leaves, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

Blue oak leaves, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

“How do it know!?” is the silly punchline of the old joke about the guy, who claims the Thermos to be the world’s greatest invention, after his friends have named the printing press, airplane and computer as their choices.  He reasons, “In summer, it keeps a drink cold and in winter, it keeps a drink hot.  How do it know!?”

Yesterday, I had the same sort of experience upon seeing blue oak in the Sierra foothills suddenly dump piles of leaves.  It wasn’t a particularly breezy day, though it was overcast.  Then, a day-long shower of dry, buff, oak leaves littered the ground around my house to be raked, swept or blown into piles.

Blue oaks, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

Blue oaks, El Dorado Hills (11/13/13) John Poimiroo

The same thing scene is occurring across California as trees shed their leaves.  Some species of oaks provide spectacular shows of color… the black oak  – growing between 4,000′ and 5,000′ in elevation – is one of them.  Though others, like the blue oak, will exhibit the slightest hint of orange color, as they change quickly from blue-green to dry-brown. That’s happening now in the Sierra foothills.

How do it know!?

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Sierra foothills (1,000′)

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Hope Springs Eternal in So Cal

Black oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Black oak, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Pacific dogwood, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

Pacific dogwood, Palomar Mountain State Park (11/9/13) Jim Beau

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Palomar Mountain State Park – Color spotter Jimbo reports from Southern California that black oaks are peaking at Palomar Mountain State Park, adding that a few dogwoods have also changed.  “Unless there’s a windstorm, they should last at least thru next weekend. Heck, I’ve seen a few of them with yellow leaves after the first snow in December.”

That’s the spirit, Jimbo.  So. Cal. holds our record for the best late fall color in California.  Because of California’s varied elevations and foliage, there isn’t another place in the good ole U.S. of A. that has a longer lasting or a more varied fall color season. Considering the stunning photos color spotters have shared this autumn, we challenge any state in the Union to show more variety or beauty.

 

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Amador County Looks/Tastes Delicious

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape leaf, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Amador County – Color spotter Dotty Molt forwards these lovely photos taken in the vineyards of Amador County and reports that thanks to Robin Bray of Bray Vineyards, Dotty was allowed to “wander in and around beautiful multi-colored vines.”  She adds, “The colors are at peak, and if you’re headed that way, try to get there soon as the weather is changing.  And make sure you stop in for a tasting. Yum!”

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Grape Leaves. Bray Vineyards, Amador County (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

Oaks, Gold Country (11/10/13) Dotty Molt

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Hwy 50 Magical At Day’s End

American River, U.S. 50 (11/10/13) Kimberly Kofala

American River, U.S. 50 (11/10/13) Kimberly Kofala

GO NOW! -75-100% – U.S. 50 (Lincoln Highway) – Color spotter Kimberly Kofala reports she drove U.S. 50 yesterday and “the corridor from Placerville to just below Strawberry was gorgeous with golden oaks, grasses and bushes. The banks of the American River are showing beautifully now.  If you are returning in the late afternoon, around 4:30,  be sure to stop in at the Strawberry Market turn arou’nd and watch the alpenglow of Lovers Leap behind Strawberry Lodge – you will think you are in Yosemite for a moment!”

Redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/9/13) John Poimiroo

Redbud, El Dorado Hills (11/9/13) John Poimiroo

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – El Dorado Hills / Folsom – The Sierra foothills communities of El Dorado Hills and Folsom were beautifully colored this past weekend, with a variety of exotic trees dressed in brilliant yellow, red, orange and Sienna.  Threatened rain and wind will likely strip some trees by week’s end.

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Redwood Nat’l & State Parks – Final Weekend of Peak

Red alder, Redwood National Park (11/7/13) Grant Roden

Red alder, Redwood National Park (11/7/13) Grant Roden

GO NOW! 75 – 100%  – Redwood National & State Parks – Color spotter Grant Roden says that if you don’t get to Redwood National & State Parks in Humboldt County this weekend, you’ll miss the last of its fall display.  And, with rain predicted next week, it’ will surely be gone by next weekend.  A few bigleaf maple and red alders are still carrying color, but losing leaves each day, as seen above.  Though, he notes that once the leaves have fallen, the forest views open up, making it easier to see the coastal redwoods and wildlife within the forest.  He recommends Miners Ridge and James Irvine Loop at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as having the best remaining display of fall color.

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – Oregon Oaks – The Oregon Oak is most spectacular when, according to Oaks of California (Pavlik, Muick, Johnson and Popper, Cachuma Press), “days become shorter and cold northern air masses return to the Pacific Coast.” The book continues, “rust-colored canopies of Oregon oak appear dappled against evergreen hillsides of the inner North Coast and Klamath Ranges.”

The Oregon Oak is one of five deciduous species of oak trees in California.  It, along with the low-growing, spreading Engelmann Oak (found near Santa Barbara in a few remnant groves of ancient trees that grew prolifically across the southwest, millennia ago) is viewed only if you make the effort to travel out of the way to see it.

The three most common deciduous oaks in California are the massive Valley Oak which populates the central valley,  magnificent Black Oak in the mountains (Yosemite) and prolific Blue Oak which populate the foothills and lower elevations.

California’s evergreen species are the Coast Live Oak, Interior Live Oak, Canyon Oak and Island Oak (found only at Channel Islands National Park).