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Redwood Highway

Avenue of the Giants, Miranda (11/6/18) Max Forster

Fall color is fleeting along the Redwood Highway, where color appears by specie of deciduous plant.

Presently, it’s almost Past Peak in Del Norte and northern Humboldt Counties, though, North Coast color spotter Max Forster reports, “you will find groves where individual bigleaf maple and patches of vine maple are still on full display.”

What affects the fall color is the proximity deciduous plants have to the redwoods. He observes, “Maple that catch more sun throughout the day peak earlier, while those that have survived primarily under the redwood canopy can peak much later in the season.

Deciduous plants to be seen along the Redwood Highway include: Bigleaf maple (yellow), Red alder (yellow), Gray Alder (yellow), Mountain alder (yellow), Bitter cherry (red/orange), Vine maple (chartreuse), Black cottonwood (gold), Oregon crab apple (orange/red) and Western poison oak (crimson). These often appear as glimpses of bright splashes of color within the evergreen redwood forest. rather than as bold swaths.

Patches of color are now being seen on the Howland Hill Road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, along the Newton P Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and at Lost Man Creek in Redwood National Park.

One of the beautiful colors of the North Coast is brilliantly crimson Western poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum. Max says the poison oak is just beginning to peak and finds that similar to bigleaf maple, those “under the redwoods have another week or so” until peak. 

  • Del Norte County – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Redwood National Park, Orick – Peak to Past Peak, YOU ALMOST MISSED IT.
  • Avenue of the Giants – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Humboldt Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
High Rock Overlook, Eel River, Humboldt Redwoods State Park (11/6/18) Max Forster
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Avenue of the Giants

Avenue of the Giants (US 101) was in full color between Fortuna and Ukiah, as north coast color spotter Walt Gabler drove south, yesterday.

Eel River, Shively (11/3/18) Walt Gabler

He found black oak at full peak north of Weott and along the Eel River, though was disappointed with color south of Garberville, finding the Van Duzen river east of Carlotta to be disappointing.

Van Duzen River, Carlotta (11/3/18) Walt Gabler

At his family’s homestead in the backwoods of Humboldt County, God’s rays through the fog of a North Coast sunrise illuminated the life-giving mist that sustains the redwood forest. 

Knack Creek sunrise, Humboldt County (11/3/18) Walt Gabler
  • Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt County (1,516′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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Redwood Highway – Glimpses of Brilliance

Bigleaf maple and ferns, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/29/17) Max Forster

 

Mill Creek, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/29/17) Max Forster

James Irvine Trail, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (10/29/17) Max Forster

North Coast color spotter Max Forster sends glimpses of brilliance from his most recent tour along the Redwood Highway.

He reports that despite recent rain (perhaps until this weekend), stormy weather has not “truly returned to the North Coast, extending fall color into November.”

As Max predicted in his previous report, peak color has continued and the Roosevelt elk “are still very active” from

Howland Hill Rd., Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/29/17) Max Forster

Beneath Mill Creek Bridge, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/29/17) Max Forster

Big Lagoon to Prairie Creek State Park.

Redwood National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) – Bigleaf maple along Drury Parkway near the Big Tree are the finest Max recalls having seen in years.  “Almost all of the trees are peaking together.” GO NOW!

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) – “The drive through the park

Mill Creek, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/29/17) Max Forster

along Howland Hill Road will be very colorful this week, with the forest carpeted in golden vine maple,” Max reported. He hiked the entirety of Mill Creek through the park over this past weekend and found bigleaf maple in top form. GO NOW!

Bull elk defends his harem, Elk Meadow (10/29/17) Max Forster

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Humboldt County – Now Peaking Tree By Tree

Avenue of the Giants (11/16/15) Max Forster

Avenue of the Giants (11/16/15) Max Forster

Max Forster reports from Humboldt County that, “It’s hard to really give a blanket rating of Peak/Past Peak for the area.  It’s more about individual trees or small areas than wide swaths of color.  Some spots are past, while others are just getting into peak.”

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Humboldt Redwoods State Park – While some of the big leaf maple have petered out, others that have been surviving outside of full sun are peaking now.  Avenue of Giants is still a worthwhile drive. 

Maple at the extreme southern and northern ends of Humboldt Redwoods State Park are looking nice.  For the south, by the Bolling Grove to Myer’s Flat.  For the north, specifically by the Drury-Chaney Grove in Pepperwood and the unnamed trail by Elinor Road are peak.

Mad River (11/16/15) Max Forster

Mad River (11/16/15) Max Forster

Vine maple, Pacific Coast Trail (11/16/15) Max Forster

Vine maple, Pacific Coast Trail (11/16/15) Max Forster

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Roosevelt Elk bulls are still actively rutting, battling rivals and gathering their harems.  They have been seen daily by Big Lagoon and the little red schoolhouse.  Similar to Humboldt Redwoods, bigleaf maple that have been growing without direct sunlight are really going off now.  The big maple by the visitor center is at peak. 

Vine maple is also finally peaking, turning brilliant yellow like their big leaf neighbors.  Some parts of the trails are like walking through a sea of yellow. 

Specific spots are along Drury Parkway by the Big Tree for the big leaf maple. For the vine maple, the Prairie Creek Trail is your best bet.  A very brilliant vine maple grove can also be seen roadside on Drury Parkway by the Brown Creek Trail.

Avenue of the Giants, Drury Chaney (11/16/15) Max Forster

Avenue of the Giants, Drury Chaney (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

Drury Parkway (11/16/15) Max Forster

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Avenue of the Giants Goes Gigantic

Humboldt Redwoods SP, Avenue of the Giants (11/2/15) Max Forster

Humboldt Redwoods SP, Avenue of the Giants (11/2/15) Max Forster

Max Forster seems to find the unlikely places for fall color, and that’s why we so like his contributions.

Last autumn, he photographed Death Valley.  This November, it’s the Avenue of the Giants (US 101) in Humboldt County.

Turkeys, Humboldt Redwood SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Turkeys, Humboldt Redwood SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

He even sends a shot of five turkeys evading being Thanksgiving Dinner by trotting into Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Bigleaf maple, Prairie Creek Trail (11/2/15) Max Forster

Bigleaf maple, Prairie Creek Trail (11/2/15) Max Forster

Poison oak, Mattole Rd, Humboldt Redwood SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Poison oak, Mattole Rd, Humboldt Redwood SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Drury Pkwy, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (11/2/15) Max Forster

Redwood National Park (11/2/15) Max Forster

Redwood National Park (11/2/15) Max Forster

While this doesn’t qualify as a First Report – since we’ve published photos and reports of this route previously – it’s pretty dang close, as Max’s photos are the best we’ve seen of The Redwood Highway.

In them, we see the redwood forest at peak with bigleaf maple all golden and the toxic tentacles of rosy poison oak climbing toward sunlight.

He also suggests these routes:

“Humboldt Redwoods State Park – The best maples can be seen along the Avenue of Giants and along Highway 101 when you can catch views of the Eel River.  Poison oak creeping up the redwoods can be seen along the Avenue of Giants and Mattole Road.  

“Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Maple lining Prairie Creek can be seen along Drury Parkway but a better option would be to hike the entire Prairie Creek Trail.  As a native New Englander there’s something particularly satisfying about kicking up leaves while hiking through the forest.  The Prairie Creek Trail currently scratches that nostalgia itch.

“Redwood National Park – Maple lining Lost Man Creek near Highway 101 are at peak.  It’s a pleasant short drive along the road lining the creek with a couple of well placed pullouts.  You can continue hiking up Lost Man Creek Trail to find more goodies.  I also hiked Redwood Creek this weekend and there are tiny shows appearing amongst the evergreen.  The recent rain storm missed northern Humboldt.  Redwood Creek continues to be unseasonably low and can easily be forded and hiked.  The maple at the northern section of the Tall Trees Grove are impressively large and currently at peak.

In particular, it’s nice to see the Avenue of the Giants going gigantic.

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Avenue of the Giants

 

Gallimaufry

A gallimaufry is a collection of unrelated writings.  Such is this post.

I was asked this morning by John Hamilton whether this would be a long fall color season, considering that the grape harvest was late this year.  Well, it seems all foliage are showing a bit later than last year, as we’re about a week to a half week behind what was occurring last year at this time, though it’s impossible to predict with confidence whether the season will be longer or better than in the past.  That’s because fall color is so affected by weather.

Great fall color occurs when the days are warm and the nights cold.  Rain or storms ruin the color by cooling the days and warming the nights and by blowing leaves from the trees.  So, the only way to predict whether the fall season will be longer is to watch long-range weather forecasts.  KGO’s John Hamilton said this a.m. that an average weather pattern is predicted for this autumn.  If so, the fall color should be as good as it ever is… and California has the longest, most varied and I’d say the most spectacular fall color anywhere in the USA… you just have to know where to look to see it.

Spot reports:

Sabrina Camp – 50-75’% – Jared Smith says Sabrina Camp (in the Eastern Sierra (US395) east of Bishop)  is nearing peak and should be spectacular  in the coming week.  Look back at previous entries on this blog to see when it was showing last year… right now, it appears the color is showing  a half week to a week later than it did last year at this time (of course, continue to check back here or other links on this site to see if things remain so delayed).

Antelope Valley – 0-15% – Tim Fesko at Meadowcliff Resort says the cottonwoods are just beginning to show yellow near Coleville (US 395).  That means it’s still green to lime-green among the aspen on nearby Monitor Pass (CA-89).

Drainages – Low lying drainages are showing color, as they always do at the beginning of autumn.  Look for color among the brush and grasses anywhere small streams run out.

Redwood National and State Parks – The Elk Rut is happening now through early October in Orick at Elk Meadow.  Visit www.redwoodadventures.com to see a video of the rut.  Elk Rut rates are available at the Elk Meadow Cabins. 

U.S. 101 – 0-15% – As you drive north on US 101, there are spots of color (mostly yellow to orange tinged bigleaf maple and pink to red poison oak in the forests north of Willits (Mendocino County) and south of Scotia (Humboldt County).  That’s not a reason to head north along the route, unless you’re traveling to see the elk rut.

Yosemite National Park – 0-30% – The range of change on this report varies by elevation.  Along tjhe Tioga Road, some aspen are coloring lime-green to yellow, while no significant change is occurring in Yosemite Valley.  It could be said, because of the range of elevations in the national park, that Yosemite has a two month fall color season.  Plan on being in Yosemite Valley in the second week of Oct. to see the sugar maple turn red near the Yosemite Chapel.  Look for bigleaf maple and dogwood to color from late Oct through November in Yosemite Valley.

Shasta Cascade – 0-15% – Lassen Volcanic National Park will be among the first places in the Shasta Cascade  to show color, but give it two weeks before heading there.  A great drive is the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway.  Base your trip in Redding (nice fall color- mostly oaks and riparian brush/grasses – surrounds Sundial Bridge).

Did You Say “Poison Oak?”

Dave Stockton reports again from Humboldt County that Shivley Bluff and Redcrest near the Eel River are showing lots of color.  These towns are along the Avenue of the Giants, a beautiful drive through California’s redwood forests, so even though the fall color occurs in sparse pockets of blazing color, the drive is impressive none the less.

Poison Oak (stock photo)

Poison Oak (stock photo)

50-75% Shively Bluff and Redcrest. Shively Bluff is almost all Poison Oak.  That’s right, you heard correctly… “poison oak” which blazes red in autumn.  Don’t touch it or you’ll be itching for weeks, but Dave reports it’s “a wonderful sight. ”

Oregon Ash (stock photo)

Oregon Ash (stock photo)

30-50% Bull Creek. The Oregon Ash are now showing lovely gold tones.  Black oak with their dark trunks and branches are orange leaves are just begining to turn.

Photo Credit (poison oak): © Melinda Fawver | Dreamstime.com

Photo Credit (oregon ash): © Virginia Tech Dendrology Dept.