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Sweet As Can Be

Sugar maple, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Sugar maple, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/12/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Sugar maples (Acer saccharum) are sweet to the eye. Perhaps that’s why so many were planted in Plumas County.

This particular specimen sugars the scenery along Hideaway Rd. in Greenville.

Leaves of the sugar maple can evolve in color through a full spectrum from dark green to lime, to yellow-green, to yellow, to yellow-orange, to orange, red and burgundy, during autumn.

Though numerous of the exotic trees have been planted in Quincy, Greenville and other Plumas County towns (Northern Sierra), none seem to have naturalized, leading a UC Davis botanist, with whom we consulted, to conclude that planting one is not likely to interfere with the growth of native trees. 

Sugar Maples, Plumas County (3,586′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

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Path Less Traveled to Jonesville

Cowboy’s Shack, Humboldt Rd., Plumas County (10/5/18) Robert Kermen

Butte Creek, Humboldt Rd., Plumas County (10/5/18) Robert Kermen

Bracken Fern, Humboldt Rd., Plumas County (10/5/18) Robert Kermen

Butte Creek, Humboldt Rd., Plumas County (10/5/18) Robert Kermen

Indian Rhubarb, Butte Creek, Plumas County (10/5/18) Robert Kermen

When you take the path less traveled, you’re sure to pass the unexpected.

North Sacramento Valley color spotter Robert Kermen did just that, on a return trip from Nevada to the Sacramento Valley, choosing a route he’d taken rarely, thereby scoring a First Report for the route.

Kermen drove the historic Humboldt Wagon Road, west from Lake Almanor. It winds past Humboldt Peak, eventually crossing into Butte County above Jonesville. In Plumas County, it’s county road 307.

The route was envisioned as a toll road across the Sierra in the mid 1860s. Hotels were built at stage stops and one of California’s richest pioneers (John Bidwell) lost a fortune developing it, when the idea was surpassed by the Big Four’s (Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis Potter Huntington and Charles Crocker’s) Central Pacific Railroad which reached the Gold Country by 1867.

Today, the mostly forgotten route passes quiet, “surprisingly large”  meadows foraged by cattle that are grazing on autumn’s last grasses and awaiting their late autumn drive down to the Sacramento Valley.

Cowboys on horseback used to drive cattle down the Humboldt Road. Today, the cattle drive is done by truck and all that remains of that era are the cattle and an overgrown rancher’s shack that stands as a weathered remembrance of those days (40° 8’37.33″N, 121°14’54.38″W).

After crossing Humbug Summit, the road drops into Jonesville by way of Scott’s John Rd. Peaking bracken fern line the route along with Patchy aspen and alder carrying various shades of green, lime, yellow and gold.

Along the banks of Butte Creek, Indian Rhubard (Darmera) are still Patchy, their large, orange-red umbrella-shaped leaves brighten the shoreline.

Kermen recalled his family’s Jonesville cabin where as a youth he fished Butte, Colby and Jones Creeks, returning home with strings of big German brown trout.

Jonesville is having a sort of revival. The last existing stage stop along the Humboldt Rd., the Jonesville Hotel, is in the process of being restored and preserved as described HERE by the Chico News & Review.

On his drive back along memory lane, Robert Kermen found unexpected beauty along a path less traveled. 

Humboldt Road (Plumas 307) – Patchy (10-50%)



Gold Found at Frenchman Lake

Frenchmans Creek, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Frenchman Creek, Plumas County (10/3/18) Colin Birdseye

Frenchman Lake, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Frenchmans Creek, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Road to Frenchman Lake, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Frenchman Lake, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Frenchman Lake, Plumas County (10/3/18) Shelley Hunter

Frenchman Claude Francois Seltier came to Sierra Valley (southeastern Plumas County) in 1858 to search for gold.

It’s now being found along Frenchman’s Creek and on the road to Frenchman Lake where riparian grasses,  aspen and cottonwood are gilding the landscape.

With a shoreline of 21 miles and a surface area if 1,580 acres, Frenchman Lake is a favorite water for fishing and camping. In winter the lake freezes and ice fishing occurs there. 

Frenchman Lake (5,588′) – Patchy (10-50%)




Antelope Lake Autumn Perfection

Dam, Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Aspen, Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian Creek, Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Antelope Lake is a remote place of autumn perfection and solitude. Located in eastern Plumas County, 30 miles NE of Taylorsville, the lake is a favorite stopping point for migratory birds in autumn.

Though you are unlikely to see antelope at the lake, on a recent visit Jeff Luke Titcomb captured a doe quenching her thirst in Indian Creek and saw few people. The campgrounds will close by mid October, yet Antelope Lake has already become a place you can call yours alone.

Aspen, riparian shrubs and grasses are at peak with red, orange and gold tones warming the scene. Jeff says the aspen dominate the scene with large clusters of brightly colored trees. 

Antelope Lake (5,000′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Indian Creek, Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Aspen, Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb


Antelope Lake (9/29/18) Jeff Luke Titcomb


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A First For Red Clover Valley

Aspen, Red Clover Valley (9/18/18) Dave Butler

Red Clover Valley in the Northern Sierra is one of those colorfully named places that time forgot and man exploited.

Until 1880, it was lushly populated with a glorious riparian ecology, containing California Golden Beaver (Castor canadensis subauratus), native trout, hardwood trees, willows and sedges. Its isolation had kept it pristine and idyllic for millennia.

However, it was also a natural pen which ranchers used to graze sheep and cattle. That grazing inevitably eliminated the valley’s riparian vegetation, resulting in Red Clover Creek eroding, widening and deepening itself, the California Water Resources Agency reported in 1991.

In 2012, a proposal to restore the valley reported that Red Clover Creek’s “once-productive wet meadows (had, by then) converted to a dry sagebrush-dominated basin with minimal vegetation and little cover for fish.”

Yesterday, Dave Butler was distracted by flashes of golden color as he drove the Beckwourth/Genessee Rd. near Red Clover Valley. Quaking Aspen were turning from deep green to lime and yellow. Beauty was returning to the Red Clover Valley as autumn was approaching. 

Just Starting (0-10%) – Red Clover Valley (5,400′)


Above Crescent Mills

Anthony Occhipinti of Coruscating Images in Sacramento did it again, flying his drone over Crescent Mills in Plumas County.


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Color or B&W?

Black oak, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/29/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Black oak, Hideaway Rd., Greenville (10/29/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Jeff Luke Titcomb reports that black oak are peaking in Greenville (Plumas County) along Hideaway Rd.

Nancy Hull found red, orange, yellow and lime ash peaking near the Colusa Unified School playground.

Jeff says the oak look good even without their color. Which do you prefer: color, or black & white?

Greenville, Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Colusa – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!



Ash, Colusa Unified School (10/29/17) Nancy Hull




Ash, Colusa Unified School (10/29/17) Nancy Hull


Plumas County Seen From The Heavens

Anthony Occhipinti of Coruscating Images sends a video of Plumas County fall color.


Plumas – About to Fall

Courthouse maples, Quincy (10/25/17) Herb Hwang

Fall. That’s what this season is called. And, it’s now happening in Plumas County.

Everywhere you look or travel, trees are laden with peaked leaves and dropping them incessantly.

The Indian Summer that arrived this week in Northern California has warmed days into the 80s and kept breezes light, but that can last only so long.

Color spotter Herb Hwang made a special trip to Quincy yesterday, just to see the courthouse maples at peak and said, “I’m glad I did!”

Now that’s dedication, Herb.

Parrish Todd also traveled Plumas County’s byways last Friday and Saturday, sending these images. Proof positive that Plumas is at Peak.

This will likely be the last, best weekend to see peak in Plumas County. All of the Shasta Cascade is experiencing peak conditions.

Plumas County – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

M. Fork Feather River (10/21/17) Parrish Todd

Maple, Quincy (10/20/17) Parrish Todd

Quaking aspen and rabbitbrush, CA-238, Plumas County (10/21/17) Parrish Todd


Indian Summer in the Shasta Cascade

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Feather River Scenic Byway (10/21/17) Jeff Luke Titcomb

Indian Summer is the “spell of warm weather after the first frost.”

This American expression was first recorded in 1778 in a letter written to England, though its origins are uncertain.

Some attribute it to having come from areas inhabited by Native-Americans or because Indians were the first to describe it.

Beaver pond, Frenchman’s Lake (10/21/17) Parrish Todd

Packer Lake, Plumas County (10/22/17) Parrish Todd

Regardless of how it got coined, it is a pleasant period of warm weather following an early frost. That is happening now in the Shasta Cascade, where last week snow fell (see below). This week, temperatures are in the 70s and Peak color – appropriately – is being seen in the Indian Valley of Plumas County (northern Sierra).

Local color spotter Jeff Luke Titcomb writes that color is at peak, though that it will – like an Indian summer – soon be gone. Black oak dominate with deep orange leaves contrasting with their black limbs.

Yellow, chartreuse and red pop out at points along CA-89 and CA-70 on the route north, leaving the Sierra and entering the lower cascades at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Indian Valley, CA-89 – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park (10/20/17) Larry Robbins