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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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Two Weeks Left on the Redwood Highway

S. Fork Eel River, Redwood Highway (10/24/17) Max Forster

Bigleaf maple, Prairie Creek Redwoods SP (10/24/17) Max Forster

Bigleaf maple, Mill Creek, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/24/17) Max Forster

North Coast color spotter Max Forster estimates the Redwood Highway has another couple of weeks of peak color.

There’s a good reason there are so many state parks and a national park in the North Coast region, as it is full of wonderful foliage to see.

Here’s what Max found:

Humboldt Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) – Avenue of The Giants will be seeing peak conditions throughout this week as bigleaf maple and creeping poison oak put on their display.  The drive along US 101 in Mendocino County from just north of Willits into southern Humboldt County is also looking spectacular. GO NOW!

Redwood National Park & Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) – Bigleaf maple are at peak while most of the vine maple are just starting to turn.  Best places to see color will be along Drury Parkway near the Big Tree parking area, Prairie Creek Trail from the visitor center to the Zig Zag #2 Trail and the road to Lost Man Creek.  Roosevelt elk are still very active, at the tail end of the seasonal rut.  Outside of the bulls protecting their herds of females, you can find groups of rejected bachelors, nursing battle wounds and damaged egos. GO NOW!

El Viejo, Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP (10/24/17) Max Forster

Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park – Peak (75-100%) – Bigleaf maple along Mill Creek are at peak.  The forest understory of vine maple, salmonberry, thimbleberry and cascara along Howland Hill Road will be peaking this week, making the drive through the heart of the park even more spectacular than usual. GO NOW!

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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