Scouting Report: Siskiyou

Mt. Shasta, Autumn (File Photo)

Whenever I visit Siskiyou County, I question why it took so long to return. The county is so beautiful and loaded with tantalizing outdoor things to do that it’s a wonder it’s so lightly populated and traveled.

Siskiyou is the frosting atop California’s layer cake of spectacular places, and Mount Shasta is its grandest decoration.

What’s kept me from visiting more often has been my perception that it’s too far away. However, on a recent scouting trip up north, time melted away and anticipation built as I drove north on I-5.

Near Red Bluff, big, beautiful, frosted Mt. Shasta rose above the horizon, beckoning and reminding me why Siskiyou is so irresistible. posts far too few reports from locations north of Shasta Lake, but when we do, they glitter with gold.

Among my favorites for fall color are the Klamath River, McCloud River, Hedge Creek, Mossbrae Falls, Faery Falls and any spot that contrasts fall color with Mt. Shasta.

Greenhorn Rd., Etna, Autumn (File Photo)

I asked Siskiyou County’s Megan Peterson where locals go when the color begins sparkling. She likes the Scott Valley where bigleaf maple populate the twisting edges of the Scott River. Good one.

Megan also likes the Gateway Trail system near Yreka. Dogwood and Bigleaf Maple are the dominant deciduous trees and part of the Foundation Trail (part of the Gateway) has tightly bunched dogwood that “put on a great show” in autumn.

Hiker Jane Cohn of Mt. Shasta City lists the Castle Lake Shore Trail, Lake Siskiyou Trail, Box Canyon Trail, Ney Springs Canyon Trail, McCloud River Fall Trail, Sisson Meadow Trail, Dunsmuir Trail, Sacramento River Trail, Pine Tree Hollow Loop, Kelsey Creek Trail and Cabin Creek as all being flanked with pockets of bold color in autumn. recommends the Cliff Lake Trail and Spring Hill Trail. 

Mt Shasta Resort, Autumn (File Photo)

Then, of course, the Mt. Shasta Resort’s golf links are lined with trees that shine bright orange in autumn.

In late May, driving along the McCloud Road, dogwood were abloom with their floral white bracts, hinting at the display of yellow sure to appear once autumn arrives.

Autumn is, however, still a season away, but then don’t put off visiting, as I had. There’s just too much to see, enjoy and explore atop the state in Siskiyou County that is downright irresistible.


It Hasta Be Shasta

Black oak and Mt. Shasta (11/3/18) Namita Mishra

For sheer drama posed beside fall color in early November, it has to be Shasta.

Color spotter Namita Mishra was there this past weekend and sent back photographs of black oak, Quercus kelloggii,  laden with orange leaves near the end of peak.

This week is likely the last to see peak color around the City of Mt. Shasta. Check below for previous reports on peak color being seen from Mt. Shasta south to Redding. 

  • Mt. Shasta – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
Black oak and white alder, Mt. Shasta (11/3/18) Namita Mishra

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Hike to Faery Falls

Faery Falls, Mt. Shasta (10/21/18) Laura Jean

Trail to Ney Springs, Mt. Shasta (10/21/18) Laura Jean

Ney Springs Creek, southwest of the town of Mt. Shasta, was the site of a busy resort in the 19th century. A series of springs there attracted patrons in search of rest and recuperation, writes

“Today, the resort is gone and nature is reclaiming what little of it remains,” the site explains.

A short distance from the site of the old resort is idyllic Faery Falls. “The falls are easily accessed on an old road that is, like the resort, slowly being taken over by the surrounding forest.”

Color spotter Laura Jean hiked the old road to Faery Falls through a forest of Peak bigleaf maple.

Maple leaves lie floating upon a clear pool at the base of the falls, which is surrounded by emerald green moss, qualifying this beautiful trail as Hike of the Week

  • Faery Falls, Mt. Shasta – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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Redding Reddens

Sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean

Redding saw a lot more red in late August than its residents wanted to see. The red was from the Carr Fire which burned 229,651 acres to the west and northeast of Redding, before it was contained. The fire devastated neighborhoods in the city’s northest corner and was the sixth-most destructive in California history.

So, it’s reassuring to see that a more welcomed type of red returning to Redding … fall color.

Redding is a central location from which to explore the Shasta Cascade (the northeast corner of UpStateCA). From Redding, roads spoke out to prime fall color viewing at Lassen Volcanic National Park, Plumas County, McArthur-Burney Falls State Park and Hat Creek, Coffee Creek and Scott Valley, Mt Shasta, Chester, Lake Almanor and Susanville, Weaverville, Red Bluff and Chico. Much of these areas are either now peaking or approaching peak.

Within its city limits, Redding is bisected by the Sacramento River which has beautiful riparian forests and wetlands. Across the length of California’s northernmost metropolis, Frémont cottonwood, black oak, Oregon ash California buckeye and blue oak grow beside the Sacramento River.

One of the best places to begin a Redding Fall Color adventure is at Sundial Bridge, Santiago Calatrava’s architectural masterpiece that spans the mighty Sacramento River, connecting Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens.

Many of Redding’s neighborhoods are forested with colorful exotic trees and several have breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and the Sacramento River. Redding color spotter Laura Jean sends these pictures of the welcomed color that has reddened Redding’s boulevards.

More about Redding and its nine fall color driving tours is found at 

  • Redding – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Chinese pistache, Shasta View Dr., Redding (10/18/18) Laura Jean


Way Up North – Two Firsts

Shasta Knotweed, Panther Meadow, Mt. Shasta (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Lassen Volcanic NP guide Shanda Ochs took a busman’s holiday, outside the national park, to explore McCloud River Falls trail in Siskiyou County and Panther Meadows at Mt. Shasta, while scoring two first reports, for these areas.

Dogwood, McCloud River Falls Trail (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Panther Meadow (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

Panther Meadow (8,000′) – Peak (75-100%)  Shasta knotweed have carpeted the meadow with peak crimson leaves, though the remainder of the meadow was just beginning to change color, and Shanda saw some late blooming wildflowers in the meadow.

McCloud River Falls Trail (3,000′) – Just Starting  (0-10%) – Indian Rhubarb is just beginning to promise giant flame orange fan leaves along the McCloud River. A quarter of the Pacific Dogwood growing beside the river are giving off intense ruby and lime.

Indian Rhubarb, McCloud River Falls Trail (9/26/17) Shanda Ochs

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Upper Lassen and Shasta Counties Move Past Peak

Middle McCloud Falls (10/24/15) Dotty Molt

Middle McCloud Falls (10/24/15) Dotty Molt

Color Spotter Dotty Molt took a road trip last week up to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.  Along the route she took, Dotty spent a few hours in Shasta County, then continued north and back.

She reports that Susanville, Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta are now past peak with much of the route visibly diminished by drought.

She writes, “The effects of drought are everywhere, even up in Oregon.  The leaves are kind of crunchy orange, brown and muted yellow, with black spots.

“McCloud Falls, near Mt. Shasta is still beautiful, but smaller than I expected, and the foliage around it is past peak, especially in the streams,” she continues, scoring a First Report for her photo of Middle McCloud Falls.

Smoke has filled the air and cast a blue haze across many areas, making photos appear foggy.  Dotty notes that the color can be adjusted in post processing, though the smoke “makes everything look dull.”

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Susanville

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Lassen Peak

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Mt. Shasta – Some good color remains to be captured near middle McCloud Falls, but not for long.


Shasta Cascade Sugars Up

Aspen, Plumas County (10/2/15) Jeff Titcomb

Aspen, Plumas County (10/2/15) Jeff Titcomb

Sugar Maple, Mt. Shasta (10/2/15) Ashley Hollgarth

Sugar Maple, Mt. Shasta (10/2/15) Ashley Hollgarth

Color spotters Jeff Titcomb and Ashley Hollgarth send these snaps from the Shasta Cascade (California’s northeast corner, a lightly populated part of the state that is as big as the state of Ohio).

Jeff notes that yellow quaking aspen and rosy western dogwood are nearing peak in Plumas County, though golden bigleaf maple and orange black oak have not yet developed.

Look to the streams in Plumas County and along the upper reaches of the Feather River to see the big fan-shaped leaves of Indian Rhubarb turning flame orange and gold.

Ashley continues to report on the progress of exotic sugar maples in the town of Mt. Shasta.

As seen in this photo of a sugar maple that she’s photographed near the U.S. Forest Service office in Mt. Shasta, the tree has changed from greenish-brown to ruby in the past week.

Several eastern sugar maples were planted along city streets throughout the town of Mt. Shasta, and, with snow-flecked Mt. Shasta seen in the distance, they provide a picture-postcard image of autumn in the Cascades.

Patchy (10-50%) – Plumas County

Patchy (10-50%) – Siskiyou County


Bloody Good

Blood Moon over Mt. Shasta (9/27/15) Cory Poole

Blood Moon over Mt. Shasta (9/27/15) Cory Poole

Cory Poole’s photograph of this past weekend’s eclipse of the moon over Mt. Shasta can only be described as “Bloody Good.”

Poole is a high school teacher who combines an eye for astronomy and landscapes in his photography.  Like many photographers who contribute their work to California Fall Color, he sells prints of his work. If you see any photographs on this site (including this bloody good image) of which you would like to buy a professionally printed reproduction, email editor(at) and we’ll put you in touch with the photographer.

Dogwood, Plumas County (9/25/15) Jeff Titcomb

Dogwood, Plumas County (9/25/15) Jeff Titcomb

Indian Rhubarb, Feather River (9/25/15) Mike Nellor

Indian Rhubarb, Feather River (9/25/15) Mike Nellor

Other photographers providing work from the Shasta Cascade this week are Mike Nellor and Jeff Titcomb.

Mike captures the first coloration of Indian Rhubarb along a stream, while Jeff creates a still life of changing dogwood leaves.


Surrounded by Color

Mt Shasta (9/22/15) Ashlyn Hollgarth

Mt Shasta (9/22/15) Ashlyn Hollgarth

What do US Forest Service rangers do in autumn?  They surround themselves with fall color.

Mt. Shasta Ranger Station (9/22/15) Ashlyn Hollgarth

Mt. Shasta Ranger Station (9/22/15) Ashlyn Hollgarth

That’s what color spotter Ashlyn Hollgarth reports from the Mt Shasta ranger station where an exotic, eastern sugar maple is coloring up beside the station.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mt. Shasta


Reflections of Fall Color at Lake Siskiyou

Lake Siskiyou and Mt. Shasta (11/23/14) Cory Poole

Lake Siskiyou and Mt. Shasta (11/23/14) Cory Poole

Color spotter Cory Poole reports that there’s still a lot of color to be seen around the edge of Lake Shasta, though because the lake level has dropped so significantly, it isn’t reflected in the lake.  However, travel north to see Mount Shasta and fall trees reflected in the still waters of Lake Siskiyou.