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About Time For Lassen Volcanic

Hat Creek and Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

Manzanita Lake and Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

Color spotter Phillip Reedy admitted he hadn’t visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in a while and “it was about time.”

He admitted, “While it can’t compare to the Eastern Sierra, there were still some colors to be seen, plenty of golden grass and even a few aspens here and there.

“The best thing was how few people there were.  No jockeying for a spot to set up a tripod there.” 

Lassen Volcanic National Park (8,512′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/12/18) Phillip Reedy

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Kings Creek Falls

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

The hike to Kings Creek Falls in Lassen Volcanic National Park begins with lacy meadow grasses that grow throughout Kings Creek Meadow, then it rises through a textural blend of yellow Lemmons willow and a mix of hot pink and scarlet shrubs, to the wispy white falls that are embraced by Tolkienesque-like willow.

If ever there is a middle kingdom in California, it is Lassen Volcanic at this magical time of year.

Shanda Ochs hiked there this week and suggested that there are so many unusual and vibrant plants to see along the trail that one might want to carry a pocket field guide to identify them.

One of the difficulties of identifying plants in the Shasta Cascade is that field guides written for the Sierra Nevada or other parts of Northern California don’t often work.

That’s because the volcanic soil, deep snowfall, climate and other conditions have encouraged the evolution of different native plants than are found in the Klamath range, Sierra Nevada, or nearby Sacramento Valley.

Part of the joy of hiking at Lassen Volcanic and on Mt. Shasta, is that you’re always finding something unexpected and new.

For a guide to the Kings Creek Falls Trail, CLICK HERE.

At Manzanita Lake at the northwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic NP, Shanda said the willow that ring the lake, are “about done, with alder still in change. The cottonwood is also about 75% with some almost bare, to others about half changed.”

It’s always difficult to rate an area when some species have peaked, others are peaking and still others near peak, but we’ll classify it at peak, as it isn’t going backwards. 

Kings Creek Falls (7,300′), Lassen Volcanic National Park – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake (2,900′), Lassen Volcanic National Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Kings Creek Falls, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/9/18) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/10/18) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic NP (10/10/18) Shanda Ochs

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Golden Currant Decorate Lassen Volcanic’s Hat Creek

Golden Currant, Hot Çreek, Lassen Volcanic NP (9/21/18) Shanda Ochs

Mountain Mule Ear and Arrowroot Balsam, Lassen Volcanic NP (9/21/18) Shanda Ochs

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) are living up to their name near Hat Creek where they’re at peak color, reports Shanda Ochs from Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The volcanic slopes of the national park are spread with Mountain Mule Ear (Wyethia mollis) and Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) “which have turned rusty orange to brown and are at peak.”

Shanda says that above 7,000′, there’s lots of autumn color, though mostly among shrubs and ground covers. Lassen Volcanic’s willows are about 20% turned, while cottonwood, alder and aspen are showing mostly green and lime with a few flashes of yellow. 
Lassen Volcanic National Park – Just Starting to Peak (0-100%) – The difficulty in classifying LVNP is that the state of fall color there depends upon which plant specie is assessed. Ground covers above 7,000′ are at peak. Shrubs vary from Patchy to Peak. Trees are Just Starting.
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Burney Falls Bubbles with Fall Color

Burney Falls (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

President Teddy Roosevelt described Burney Falls as the “eighth wonder of the world,” and with good reason.

Pit River above Burney Falls (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

Burney Falls is constantly fed by an underground stream that flows at a rate of 379 million liters a day (imagine that in terms of soda bottles).

The water permeates through and flows over a 129-foot tall wall of rock that is covered with lush green ferns.

The pool below the falls (a waterfall is one drop, falls are many) has every imaginable blue in it (indigo, cerulean, cobalt, turquoise) and the wall in autumn is topped with vivid orange, yellow and lime colors.

Color spotter Clayton Peoples was there this past weekend to report the scene “sported great colors.”

He wrote, “At McArthur-Burney Falls State Park, the black oak trees are turning yellow, orange, and rusty red. There are some that have already reached peak color–for instance, those along Burney Creek just above where it plunges down the Falls. Elsewhere, though, the leaves are only beginning to change.

Manzanita Lake (10/15/17) Clayton Peoples

“At Lassen Volcanic National Park, willows along Manzanita Lake range from Peak to Past Peak, and the grasses and other ground shrub have turned a nice golden hue. It’s unclear how long the color will last there, so I would recommend that folks GO NOW! before color disappears and winter weather settles in.”

The Shasta Cascade region is now a go-to destination to find great fall color, with Plumas County, Lassen Volcanic and Burney Falls at Peak.

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

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First Report: Hat Creek Meadow Peaks

Hat Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/25/16) Shanda Ochs

Hat Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/25/16) Shanda Ochs

Hat Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/25/16) Shanda Ochs

Hat Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/25/16) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/24/16) Shanda Ochs

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/24/16) Shanda Ochs

Mountain Alder, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/24/16) Shanda Ochs

Mountain Alder, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/24/16) Shanda Ochs

Lassen Volcanic National Park color spotter Shanda Ochs recommends visiting Hat Creek meadow, where grasses and willows carpet it with “beautiful rusty orange, gold and yellow foliage.”

Meadow grasses provide an early show that doesn’t last long. Shanda believes the display at Hat Creek will wane, as leaves turn with approaching colder temperatures.

At Manzanita Lake, near the northwest entrance to Lassen Volcanic, lime-colored willow, alder and cottonwood ring the lake.

Hat Creek Meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (6,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park (5,900′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Lassen Volcanic Runs With Red

Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Lassen Volcanic National Park’s hills run with red knotweed in late summer.

Shanda Ochs, a guide at the national park (which is located east of Redding and that commemorated its 100th anniversary on August 9) reports “The Park is seeing some fall color at 7,000′ and higher elevations.”

Because this national park has a volcanic landscape, much of it is austere, though bright color pops on autumn days… particularly along its hillsides and in its meadows where cadmium-yellow rabbitbrush, crimson knotweed, white pearly everlastings and golden and rust-colored grasses are seen peaking in the waning days of summer and early autumn.

The rabbitbrush, pearly everlastings and knotweed peak are about past peaking.  Technically, they are late blooming wild flowers rather than true “autumn color.” Though because of their timing, we classify them as fall color.

California Trivia: Did you know that California has a seven-month spring? That’s because wildflowers bloom in California from March to September. It’s all because of our wide range of elevations, from sea level to over 14,000′. That’s the same reason California can claim the longest and most diverse autumn on Earth.

Lassen’s show continues with a variety of willows, some quaking aspen and alder appearing, particularly around Manzanita Lake.

Autumn meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Autumn meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Knotweed, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Autumn meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Autumn meadow, Lassen Volcanic National Park (9/16/16) Shanda Ochs

Here are the park’s autumn centennial events:

  • Sat., Sept. 17 – Art & Wine of Lassen  | 11 am – 4 pm | Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center – Celebrate local art, wine, and music at Lassen. Returning for its seventh year, this popular event featuring local businesses is held at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Taste wine from local vineyards, sample products from regional entrepreneurs, and enjoy music from local artists. Tasting fee includes a commemorative glass.
  • Sat., Sept. 24 – Public Lands Day of Stewardship Projects (Centennial event)  | September 24 | Park-wide – Enjoy free park entrance in celebration of Public Lands Day and give back to the national park by participating in a service day in the park.

This day also kicks off the National Park Service Centennial PhotoBlitz on National Public Lands. CLICK HERE for more about entering your photos in the contest.

  • Klamath Network Parks Exhibition (Centennial event) | September 30 –January 2, 2017 | Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding – Northern California and southern Oregon are home to seven national parks. A standing autumn and early winter exhibit at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding lets museum visitors “tour” them all. What an easy way to learn about the park, while also visiting Redding’s amazing Sundial Bridge, designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava.

GO NOW! Peak (75-100%) – Lassen Volcanic National Park – ground cover plants (knotweed, rabbitbrush, meadow grasses).

Just Starting (0-10%) – Lassen Volcanic National Park – Alder, quaking aspen, cottonwood and willows.