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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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Bigleaf Maple Near Peak on the Upper North Coast

Big Trees, Praire Creek Redwoods State Park (10/3/16) Max Forster

Big Trees, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/3/16) Max Forster

Bigleaf maple are near peak among the coastal redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park along the upper Redwood Highway, reports color spotter Max Forster.

Big Trees, Praire Creek Redwoods State Park (10/3/16) Max Forster

Big Trees, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/3/16) Max Forster

Leaning Maple, Corkscrew Creek, Redwood Highway (10/3/16) Max Forster

Leaning Maple, Corkscrew Creek, Redwood Highway (10/3/16) Max Forster

Lost Man Creek, Redwood Highway (10/3/16) Max Forster

Lost Man Creek, Redwood Highway (10/3/16) Max Forster

Bigleaf Maple, Redwood Highway (10/34/16) Max Forster

Bigleaf Maple, Redwood Highway (10/34/16) Max Forster

He writes, “While we may not see the uniform display of color seen last year, most bigleaf maple are near peak throughout the redwood forest. 

“Northern Humboldt County isn’t thought of as being a fall foliage destination, though this is one of the finest times of the year for photography in the forest. 

“Mostly green scenes can now be punched up with flourishes of yellow from the bigleaf and vine maples.  The summer crowds have left the national and state parks, leaving many trails practically empty.”

Bigleaf maple is one of a few showy autumn plants along the North Coast, the others being western poison oak (crimson), vine maple (yellow), black cottonwood (gold) and red alder (yellow).

Forster continued, “This is rutting season and Roosevelt elk are very active, as the bulls contest for the harems.  Keep an eye out for signage along trails where the bulls have been seen, recently.

“You don’t have to venture far from your car, as some of the best color can be seen from Drury Parkway or the road to the Lost Man Creek picnic area.”

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park & Redwood National Park – Near Peak (50-75%) 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

 

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What A Difference Three Days Makes

Crab Park, Eel River, Loleta (9/28/15) Crys Black

Three days ago, Mendocino County color spotter Crys Black had decided to report fall color as Just Starting north of Willits on U.S. 101, but when she drove The Redwood Highway this morning, “the color was beautiful and I have to bump it up to 10-50% with the best location just north of Willits.”

Oriole in Yarrow, Crab Park, Eel River, Loleta (9/28/15) Crys Black

Crys says Mendocino County received two inches of rain recently, nourishing beautiful orange, yellow, “even some purple… wildflowers.”

The fall color along 101 is Patchy, with a lot of yellow and some oranges and reds. Most of the yellow comes from bigleaf maple, the orange from alder, chartreuse from climbing wild cucumber and splashes of red from poison oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum.

There is no poison in poison oak. What creates its irritating, painful rash is contact with urushiol oil, a potent allergen found on the plant’s leaves. Unfortunately for those affected, poison oak is California’s most prevalent woody shrub. That prevalence, for those of us who appreciate red fall color, has the positive aspect of brightening woodlands with crimson in autumn.

U.S. 101 North of Willits (9/28/15) Crys Black

U.S. 101 North of Willits (9/28/15) Crys Black

U.S. 101 North of Willits (9/28/15) Crys Black

U.S. 101 North of Willits (9/28/15) Crys Black

Crys says the vines are showing pretty color around Asti and Geyserville, though it’s Just Starting.  Crush arrived early this year, though fall color will develop as in previous years.

Donna Hufford a color spotter at Elk Meadow Cabins in Orick reports that alder and bigleaf maple beside U.S. 101, north of Orick, are now coloring Redwood National and State Parks with bright patches of orange and yellow.  Roosevelt Elk bulls, the largest in North America, are in full rut as they trumpet and fight one another for mating rights to harems of elk cows.

Just Starting (0-10%) – North Coast Vineyards

Patchy (10-50%) – U.S. 101 – Willits to Klamath 

Just Starting (0-10%) – U.S. 101 – Klamath to Crescent City

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Redwoods Ablaze With Color

Eel River (10/17/14) mlhradio, Flickr Creative Commons

Eel River (unknown date) mlhradio, Flickr Creative Commons

The Save The Redwoods League reported on its Facebook page this past Friday that “the redwood forest is ablaze with color.”

So, we called color spotter Grant Roden at Elk Meadow Cabins.  Grant is a naturalist/guide located at Orick near Redwood National and State Parks.  He said the color has peaked at Elk Meadow, though he’s heard that spots along The Redwood Highway (U.S. 101) are peaking, as this photo from the Save The Redwoods League website shows.

Because the elevations in the North Coast are consistent, the color descends much as it does in New England, by latitude along the coast starting at Del Norte County, then descending to Humboldt and eventually Mendocino County. North Coast vineyards, of course, go off on their own schedule by grape variety, and many are peaking, now.

Elk Rut, Elk Meadow Cabins (File Photo) Rick E Martin

Elk Rut, Elk Meadow Cabins (File Photo) Rick E Martin

Grant said the elk rut, this past September, was one of the most spectacular in recent memory.  He said he could hardly get out the Elk Meadow Cabins front office door for the battles occurring between bull elk on the lawn surrounding the lodge. The rut is one of the most colorful, fascinating and exciting wildlife events to occur annually in California.  It’s certainly worth planning a trip to see, next September.

Also of note is that the return of moist weather to the North Coast has become an unexpected attraction, with drought-parched Californians reveling in the rain.

The Redwood Highway (Peak – 75 – 100%) – We’re asking North Coast spotters to confirm this report by sending photos.

Redwood National and State Parks (Past Peak) – YOU MISSED IT!

[weatherlayer country=”United States” city=”Eureka”]

 

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Redwood Nat’l & State Parks – Final Weekend of Peak

Red alder, Redwood National Park (11/7/13) Grant Roden

Red alder, Redwood National Park (11/7/13) Grant Roden

GO NOW! 75 – 100%  – Redwood National & State Parks – Color spotter Grant Roden says that if you don’t get to Redwood National & State Parks in Humboldt County this weekend, you’ll miss the last of its fall display.  And, with rain predicted next week, it’ will surely be gone by next weekend.  A few bigleaf maple and red alders are still carrying color, but losing leaves each day, as seen above.  Though, he notes that once the leaves have fallen, the forest views open up, making it easier to see the coastal redwoods and wildlife within the forest.  He recommends Miners Ridge and James Irvine Loop at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as having the best remaining display of fall color.

GO NOW! 75 – 100% – Oregon Oaks – The Oregon Oak is most spectacular when, according to Oaks of California (Pavlik, Muick, Johnson and Popper, Cachuma Press), “days become shorter and cold northern air masses return to the Pacific Coast.” The book continues, “rust-colored canopies of Oregon oak appear dappled against evergreen hillsides of the inner North Coast and Klamath Ranges.”

The Oregon Oak is one of five deciduous species of oak trees in California.  It, along with the low-growing, spreading Engelmann Oak (found near Santa Barbara in a few remnant groves of ancient trees that grew prolifically across the southwest, millennia ago) is viewed only if you make the effort to travel out of the way to see it.

The three most common deciduous oaks in California are the massive Valley Oak which populates the central valley,  magnificent Black Oak in the mountains (Yosemite) and prolific Blue Oak which populate the foothills and lower elevations.

California’s evergreen species are the Coast Live Oak, Interior Live Oak, Canyon Oak and Island Oak (found only at Channel Islands National Park).

 

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Redwoods Reviewed

Bigleaf maple and moss, Prairie Creek State Park, Humboldt County (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

Bigleaf maple and moss, Prairie Creek State Park, Humboldt County (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

Nature observer Sandy Steinman (see blog at left)  took a trip north to Redwood National and State Parks this past week and provides a good guide to the parks.  CLICK HERE to read Sandy’s remarks. The national park is closed, due to the shutdown, though most of the parks along the Redwood Coast are state parks and all of them remain open.  Fall color is an added reason to visit the redwoods, though it’s not a prime reason to make the trip.  Spots of color are seen among the redwoods and in non-redwood forests along The Redwood Highway.  Still, this is California’s greatest boulevard and must be driven.  We can think of no finer season than autumn in which to see it.

Color spotter  Adam Nilsson-Weiskotts sends photos of changing bigleaf maple, alder and bay laurel among the redwood forests of the North Coast, reminding us that “time does not stand still in the Redwoods.” He reports, “The contrast of green moss and fog-shrouded bigleaf maple with their brilliant shades of orange, yellow and brown is truly a sight to behold and at peak, right now.  The best colors can be seen along Prairie Creek Trail which is populated with bigleaf maples.

Bigleaf maple, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

Bigleaf maple, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (10/13/13) Adam Nilsson-Weiskott

GO NOW! – 75 – 100% – Redwood National and State Parks – Bigleaf maple, alder and bay laurel are in full color along the drainages within the parks.  The state parks remain open, though gated areas of the national parks are closed during the federal shutdown.  No worries, as there are far more state park areas to view.

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Fall Glows and Elks Rut at Redwood Nat’l Park

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Elk Meadow, Redwood National Park, Orick, Calif. (10/2/09) Rick E Martin

There may be a federal shutdown, but no one told the Roosevelt Elk at Redwood National Park to stop rutting or the fall colors to stop changing.  Color spotter Grant Roden reports from the Elk Meadow Cabins that the “‘federal shut down’ really has had minimal impact at Redwood National and State Parks for visitors that want to see the old growth redwood and habitat. Some of the best areas to visit are in the state parks, where visitor centers and public services are still available, as normally provided.”

30 – 50% – Redwood National and State Parks – These parks are known for their yellow and golden displays of Big Leaf Maple and Alder set in contrast to the redwood forest.  Look for spots of crimson poison oak in open brushy areas and along the edges of meadows (it is found infrequently beneath the redwood canopy, as it needs light to survive), but be careful not to touch it!  Grant writes, “The red and yellow hues are stunning in contrast to the towering evergreen redwood giants.”

Fall Wildlife Viewing Grant reports that several wildlife shows are now in progress in Humboldt County.

  • Elk Rut – The annual rut of the Roosevelt Elk is at peak, presently, with large bull elk bugling and battling to take charge of harems of elk cows.  This is ranks up there with coastal whale, central valley waterfowl and bat migrations as being one of California’s most dramatic wildlife spectacles.
  • Shore Birds – A fall migration of shore birds is to be seen at beaches all along the North Coast.  Beaches at Freshwater Lagoon, Stone Lagoon and Big Lagoon, near US 101, are good locations to see the migratory birds.
  • Chinook Salmon Run – the fall run of Chinook salmon is at peak on the Klamath River.
  • Whale Watching – Grey and Blue whales are now migrating along the North Coast.  Several charter boat companies offer trips from Eureka and Trinidad

Redwood NP Lights Up With Yellow

Elk Meadow, Redwood NP (11/1/12) Grant Roden

75 – 100% – Redwood National Park – Grant Roden reports from Elk Meadow that bigleaf maple are at full peak with yellow peaking through the redwoods.  He describes early November as one of the best times of the year to see the redwoods.