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Marble Mountains

Marble Mountains Wilderness Area (10/6/19) Leor Pantilat

Class in Session. So, who here has heard of the Marble Mountains?

No, the Marble Mountains of which I’m speaking are not in Vietnam, nor Southern California. Those are different ranges with the same name. The one I’m thinking of is in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Technically, they’re the northwest portion of the Salmon Mountains. Familiar, yet? No?

Maybe this will help … They’re a sub-range of the Klamath Mountains. Did I hear a “Huh!?”

Still cold? Here are some tips: the Marble Mountains area was one of the first four “Primitive Areas” designated in America (1931), became a Wilderness Area in 1953, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes through it.

Believe me. When I first learned of the Marble Mountains I was scratching my head, too. I’d never heard of them.

Bigleaf maple, Marble Mountains (10/6/19) Leor Pantilat

Images sent today by Leor Pantilat show a range deserving of greater recognition. The problem is, the Marble Mountains are in a state with 352 mountain ranges. So, it’s understandable that you might not have heard of them.

Wikipedia reports that more species of conifer (17) live in proximity there than any place else in the world, including the Brewer’s spruce; incense cedar; Western Juniper; white, subalpine and Shasta red fir; Engelmann spruce; mountain hemlock; Pacific yew; and whitebark, knobcone, foxtail, lodgepole, sugar, ponderosa and western white pine. has mentioned the Marble Mountains previously, but Leor’s is the first report showing fall color there.

Bigleaf maple are Near Peak and lighting the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area’s remarkable conifer forest with yellow and gold. Dogwood are patchy and grasses from 6,000′ to 7,000′ are colorful. Peak should arrive within a fortnight.

Moving on … So, who here has heard of the Chemehuevi Mountains?

  • Marble Mountain Wilderness Area (3,000 to 5,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Bigleaf maple.

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.


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

As Autumn Approaches, Shasta Cascade Reports

With the first day of autumn approaching (Friday, Sept. 23), few reports received yet include significant measurements of fall color anywhere in California.  Yesterday, Leilani, a color spotter from the Shasta Cascade region (northeast California) reported:

0-15% – Butte County – The colors in Butte County are not expected to change much until closer to the end of the month.  The area has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather.

Sundial Bridge (11/4/2009) © 2009 John Poimiroo

0-15% – Redding – Nothing yet to report, but plan to visit in early October to see the riparian vegetation and oaks along the banks of the Sacramento River framing Sundial Bridge with shades of yellow, orange and burnt sienna.

0-15% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area- The national park is not experiencing any fall color changes, as yet.

0-15% – MacArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park– The Vine Maples at the bottom of the falls at Burney Creek are just beginning to turn.

0-15% – Lassen Volcanic National Park–  Neither upper elevations at the park or Manzanita Lake are experiencing any foliage change yet.

0-15% – Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail-   Colors along The Bizz Johnson Trail in Lassen County are not expected to change until the middle of October.

0-15% – Lassen National Forest – The national forest will most likely not experience fall color changes until early October.

0-15% – Modoc National Forest – No color changes yet in Modoc County, but conditions are perfect for spectacular fall color, as the nights are starting to turn pretty cold, with warm days meaning that as the days shorten, the beginning of color change is expected in the next week or so.

0-15% – Mt. Shasta – California’s beautiful northern volcano, Mt Shasta, is not yet surrounded by fall color.

0-15% – Weaverville – Trinity County surrounding this fascinating gold rush era town along CA-299 has not yet seen any fall color.  Last year, we reported very lovely color along 299 and in the area.  Look to the middle of October for the color to truly swirl here.

0 – 15% – Plumas County – One of California’s premiere places to see fall color, Plumas County always delivers wonderful fall color and 2011 should be no change.  Area botanists are saying the colors are expected to be spectacular this season thanks to all the rain Plumas County has had throughout the year. Our dear friends at the Plumas County Chamber of Commerce will be posting to their fall webpage starting on Friday (Sept. 23).  Their reports feature local and visitor testimonies and pictures from all parts of this colorful destination.  Keep checking here for their reports, as well.  The Chester/Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce in Chester stocks copies of a guide to regional fall color drives, many of which are on state and national scenic byways.