One Last Shot of Hope

Hope Valley (10/16/17) Susan Taylor

Hope Valley (10/16/17) Susan Taylor

Hope Valley (10/16/17) Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor sent these images taken in the Hope Valley, last week. They were such jewels, though no longer available to be seen, that we had to share them.

What you’re more likely to see are those taken by Phillip Reedy and Clayton Peoples.

Phillip timed a visit to be in the Hope Valley and setup before sunrise to photograph snow and fall color before the snow would begin to melt.

He noted that while most of the aspen in the Hope Valley are now bare, there are some with reasonably good color remaining.  Though, the cabin at Red Lake Creek is now “totally bare, even on the mountainside above the cabin.”

Aspen Leaves and Snow, Hope Valley (10/20/17) Phillip Reedy

Clayton Peoples had the same idea, visiting Lake Tahoe and finding spots of color surrounded by a wet dusting of heavy snow.

The heavy blanket of snow dropped late last week has mostly melted (following the warm, sunny weather that followed) and the scene is similar to the Hope Valley, mostly Past Peak, but with pockets of color to be seen.

Clayton wrote, “Color can be found in the lower elevations (near the Lake) among aspens and cottonwoods; it can also be found in a few aspen groves hanging tough in the higher elevations.

“For instance, near Tahoe Meadows (on the NV side, along Mt. Rose Highway), there is a gnarled, weathered grove of aspens that tends to turn color in mid-October despite its high elevation (approximately 8,000ft). This grove is going off right now, and is at Peak (75-100%). A number of inches have fallen at this elevation, adding to the beauty. At the right angle, one can capture a photo of orange-hued aspens with the majestic Lake Tahoe in the background, 2,000ft below.

Tahoe Meadows (10/20/17) Clayton Peoples

Hope Valley – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Lake Tahoe – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Lake Tahoe (10/20/17) Clayton Peoples


Past Peak Can Still Be Beautiful

Sorensens Cabin, Hope Valley (10/14/17) Brian Patterson



































Past Peak color can still be beautiful, as seen in Brian Patterson’s photograph of Sorensens Cabin.

Hope Valley – Past Peak – You Missed It.


Falling Leaves

Peter Robbins sends this impression of autumn along the West Fork of the Carson River (Hope Valley), taken on Oct. 11.

Cell phones provide the opportunity for any color spotter to capture the moment. If you have one, send a YouTube link to and we’ll post it (space permitting).


Losing Hope? Not Quite Yet

Norway House, Sorensens Resort (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

The Hope Valley still has lots and lots of peak color, though it’s all below 7,400′.

A scouting trip through the Hope Valley (CA-88, Carson Pass) found peak color at Sorensen’s Resort at the top of Woodford’s Canyon and in the Hope Valley below Red Creek Cabin.

Comparison photos of Red Creek Cabin (admittedly shot at different times of day at different locations and with different framing) shows what’s happened there in the past ten days. They also show the affect of smoke in the air.

Red Creek Cabin, Hope Valley (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

Red Creek Cabin, Hope Valley (10/2/17) John Poimiroo

Aspen high on the ridge behind the cabin have moved from Just Starting to Patchy.

Those directly behind the cabin, that were peaking previously, are now Past Peak and those that were Patchy to Near Peak are peaking.

The most vivid peak probably occurred between the time I took the first and second photograph.

Hope Valley (10/12/17) John Poimiroo

Hope Valley (10/9/17) Dan Varvais

Above the cabin, Red Lake and Caples Lake have peaked. Only spotty color remains. Similarly, at Sorensen’s, stands at the resort are at full, glorious peak, while those across the road and along the West Fork of the Carson River are Past Peak.

Nevertheless, you haven’t missed it. This weekend will still be spectacular in the Hope Valley with great color to be seen along CA-88 between Red Creek Cabin and Woodford’s Canyon (Sorensens). Haze from Northern California wildfires softened the scene, slightly, but as seen in these photos, could be corrected.

If you are attentive, a few dirt and gravel US Forest Service roads lead from points along the north side of CA-88 to the color. They are marked with USFS tags. Do not, however, drive on any private roads, which usually are marked “No Trespassing.”

Also, parking at Sorensens is limited to resort guests and diners, so if you want to take pictures there, please buy something. They have a very excellent book/gift shop with tantalizing items, including the Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling – another fun way to capture fall color.

Hope Valley (10-/12/17) John Poimiroo

During my visit to the Hope Valley, I spoke with John Brisenden, owner of Sorensens Resort who said 29 mph gusts had passed through on Wed. night, but there was little sign that many of the leaves had been carried away.

Instead, at Sorensen’s and in the lower Hope Valley, there continue to be large groves of aspen with peak color that will likely hold for another week or more.

So, don’t lose Hope. GO NOW and be dazzled by it.

Hope Valley (7,300′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Luther Pass (7,740′) – Peak to Past Peak (75-100%) GO NOW as you almost missed it! – Big Meadow on the north side of Luther Pass is the only area along this section of CA-89 that has any color.  Large aspen on the east side of the meadow are peaking and add romance to a hike along the meadow trail. Though, the color is an added benefit to the hike, not a reason in itself to visit the meadow.

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Past Peak – You Missed It. – Steve Greer reports he just crossed Monitor Pass and 80% of the trees up there are stripped. It’s so exposed up there, that the wind John Brisenden mentioned may turned the aspen into sticks last Wed. night.





You Gotta Have Hope

Red Creek Cabin, Hope Valley (10/2/17) John Poimiroo

(Hope Valley – 10/2/17) The Hope Valley (CA-88, Carson Pass) is typical of the dilemma facing color spotters this autumn… the show is all cattywampus.

In some places like at the Red Creek Cabin (seen above), it’s Near Peak to Peak color, while in others the aspen look like they’re Just Starting.

So, you gotta have hope when we say, although the Hope Valley is Patchy overall GO NOW!, as there is enough peak color to make it worth the trip.

Here’s a rundown from top to bottom:

Castle Point Trailhead, CA-88 (10/2/17) John Poimiroo

Castle Point Trailhead – Peak to Past Peak (We All Missed It) – The Aspen look terrible, few leaves and light color. This stand used to be glorious.

Caples Lake – Patchy to Near Peak – One stand of at Peak aspen on northeast shore showing orange and yellow, though many others in Patchy condition.

Red Lake Area -Patchy (10-50%)

Red Creek Cabin – Peak (75-100%) – GO NOW!

Hope Valley -Patchy (10-50%)

Sorensen’s Resort, Hope Valley (10/2/17) John Poimiroo

Sorensen’s – Near Peak  – GO NOW!

Woodford’s Canyon – Patchy (10-50%)

Overall Hope Valley (7,300′) – Patchy, though there’s plenty of Near Peak and Peak Color to make it worth seeing. GO NOW!

Alpine Aspen Festival – Oct. 7 & 8, Hope Valley



Near Peak Aspen Surround Sorenson’s

Monitor Pass (9/30/17) Steve Greer

A number of information-rich reports arrived this weekend… so many that with other commitments it was difficult getting them up quickly.

Woodford’s Canyon (9/29/17) Steve Greer

Color spotter Steve Greer traveled back from the Eastside, over Monitor Pass, passing Sorenson’s Resort in Woodford’s Canyon, before continuing through the Hope Valley.

Greer concurs with Phillip Reedy’s assessment, that peak is likely a week away in the Hope Valley, although aspen in Woodford’s Canyon near Sorenson’s Resort are now Near Peak.

He also notes that the aspen seem to be so healthy in this area (not what they were last year at this time) of the Northern Sierra (CA-88) that the show should be bright and vibrant.

Greer took the drone shot (above) from the summit of Monitor Pass, providing a glimpse of the overall “patchy” condition of the weathered aspen at that elevation.

Woodford’s Canyon (9/30/17) Steve Greer

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Patchy (10-50%)

Woodford’s Canyon (7,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Hope Valley (7,300′) – Patchy (10-50%)


Hope Valley Begins to Happen

Red Lake Cabins, Hope Valley (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

California Trail (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Fly fisherman Phillip Reedy finds the most beautiful locations. Yesterday, he visited the Hope Valley and walked the old California Trail in search of bows, brookies and beauty.

He came back with these shots and likely a string of lunkers, finding the valley’s photogenic cabin (2 miles east of Red Lake on CA88 at 7,400′) surrounded by a few of the aspen that are changing in the valley. The rest along the highway and on the mountainside above the cabins are still green.

At 7,200′ in elevation the old California Trail, Reedy wrote, “cuts across 88 right there which was used back in the 1840s.  That was the only place along the entire trip from Silver Lake to Tahoe with bright yellow color.”

Phillip said last year at this time, the route was peaking and anticipates it will be Near Peak to Peak by next weekend, in time for the Alpine Aspen Festival. It is likely to stay at peak for the next two weeks.

Red Creek (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Red Lake Cabins (9/29/17) Phillip Reedy

Hope Valley (7,400′) – Patchy (10-50%)



Aspen Festival Returns to Alpine County

Hope Valley (10/8/16) Andrew Zheng

With only 1,138 residents, Alpine County is California’s smallest county, but what it lacks in population, it makes up in Quaking Aspen.

Aspen forests populate seven viewing areas in Alpine County: the Hope Valley, Woodfords Canyon, Monitor Pass, East Fork Carson River, Ebbett’s Pass, Hermit Valley and Bear Valley/Lake Alpine.

Though Alpine County is just south of my base in El Dorado County, I’ve never scouted Ebbett’s Pass, Hermit Valley or Bear Valley/Lake Alpine. That’s an omission I hope to correct, and just might do so during the Alpine Aspen Festival, Oct. 7 – 8.

The festival occurs in the Hope Valley, which is a favorite destination for fall color spotters due to its proximity to Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and the SF Bay Area.

Planned are interpretive hikes, photography and en plein air painting, a ranch tour, music and – of course – food (Dutch oven cooking and a feed benefitting East Fork Fire).

There are a bunch of first reports on the line. Let’s see who gets to them, first.


Memory Lane: Sorensen’s Resort

Sorensen's Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

Sorensen’s Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

Sorensen's Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

Sorensen’s Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

Hwy 88, Sorensen's Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

Hwy 88, Sorensen’s Resort (10/23/16) Danny Hu

It’s feeling like the holidays at Sorensen’s Resort in the Hope Valley, were fall color has peaked and most branches are bare and ready to carry loads of snow.

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Wendy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Tracy Zhou

Tracy Zhou followed a similar route across Monitor Pass and through the Hope Valley to Lake Tahoe, providing these views.

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Wendy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Tracy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Wendy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Tracy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Wendy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Tracy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Wendy Zhou

Monitor Pass (10/23/16) Tracy Zhou


Luther Pass Peaks

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Aspen, Luther Pass (10/22/16) Maggie Huang

Luther Pass (CA-89), the route connecting the Hope Valley and South Lake Tahoe, was peaking on Saturday when color spotter Maggie Huang visited.

Quaking aspen were deep orange and red, with a few spashes of yellow and lime.

Luther Pass (7,740′) – Peak (75-10%) GO NOW!