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October 23, 2011

Fall Foliage Report


Fall Foliage - Conway Summit
Conway Summit

Fall Foliage - Conway Summit 2
Conway Summit

Fall Foliage - June Lake Loop, Hwy 158
June Lake Loop - Hwy 158

Fall Foliage - West Walker River
West Walker River

More Fall Foliage Photos


Fall color is peaking in the Eastern Sierra above 7,000 ft.  The color is best from the Bishop Creek Canyon in Inyo County north through Mono County to Monitor Pass, along U.S. 395.  Other high elevations in the Sierra are peaking, as reported from Plumas County in the Northern Sierra.  Color at these elevations will only last another week or two, descending to lower elevations thereafter.  The first report from Southern Califoria was received this week, with 15% of trees showing change in the southland.


The Eastern Sierra is at full color peak above 7,000 ft.  The change has been sudden and dramatic in the past two weeks, with the aspen quickly transitioning from 15 – 30% change to full peak.

Mono County color spotter Alicia Vennos reports that all areas of Mono County are at peak right now and “beyond fabulous”.  She continues that, “even with the help of photos (seen on www.californiafallcolor.com) it’s hard to describe.  This season’s range, depth and layers of orange and red-rust tones are outstanding… and by all accounts, this is one of the most picture-perfect autumns in recent memory.  Places like Conway Summit really have to be seen with your own eyes!  Lundy Canyon and June Lake Loop are magnificent and at their height of color.”

50 – 75% – Convict Lake – Color spotter Jennifer Heintzelman reports that Convict Lake is now gilded and approaching peak.

75 – 100% – Mammoth Lakes – A picture is worth a thousand words, as reports Mark Rudyk from Mammoth Lakes who says fall color has moved rapidly from zero to hero in this Eastern Sierra center of lodging and recreation.  Mammoth Lakes and its vicinity are approaching peak and gorgeous with lots of yellow reflected in its blue alpine lakes.

75-100% – Conway Summit – Is at peak with deep colors of orange and red.

50-75% – June Lake Loop - Nearing peak, with some areas filled with intense yellow aspen.  Hwy 158 between Grant and Silver Lakes is one of these areas.

50-75% – West Walker River - Between Bridgeport and Walker along US 395, the aspen and cottonwood are approaching peak with mostly yellow and some orange.

Bishop Creek Canyon in Inyo County is now peaking between 7,500 and 8,000 ft in elevation reports Jared Smith from Parchers Resort.  “Above 8,500 ft,” he writes, “there is still some fall color to enjoy but most areas are past peak color. The harsh weather of previous weeks had far less of an impact than expected, good news for all the color chasers out there. The weather forecast is favorable so look for there to be incredible color throughout the canyon through this weekend.

Past Peak – Weir Pond (9,592 ft) – Past Peak (but still gorgeous!).  While the groves above the pond are mostly gone now, the color around the shoreline is spectacular and I would consider those trees to be at peak color.

75 – 100% – Parchers Camp (9,260 ft) - The foliage on the hillsides surrounding the camp really came on strong last week. The groves to the east of the resort are gone but the vast majority of the aspens are at peak color with lots of orange and red hues about. Simply gorgeous!

75 – 100% – North Lake (9,255 ft) - North Lake is still a difficult location to rate right now because some areas are well past their peak while others are simply stunning. The road especially is looking very vibrant right now.

75 – 100% – Lake Sabrina (9,150 ft) - The east shore of the lake doesn’t have much going on right now but the back of the lake is ablaze with lime green, orange, yellow and reds. Spectacular views towards the back of the lake right now.

75 – 100% – Lake Sabrina Approach (9,100 ft) - The aspens surrounding the ponds just below Lake Sabrina are extremely beautiful right now and this area is at its peak.

Past Peak – Sabrina Camp Groves (9,000 ft) - This grove is an early bloomer so it should be  no surprise that the best has come and gone for this spot.

75 – 100% – Cardinal Pinnacle Groves (9,000 ft) – The groves just to the east of the highway near Cardinal Pinnacle have really turned fast. This view is exceptional, especially with the contrast of the red rocks and granite shale mixed in.

75 – 100% – Surveyor’s Meadow – Some of the groves are past peak here but lots of them are now peaking. Spectacular views at this locations, especially in the early afternoon or in the evening after the sun has gone over the hillside.

75 – 100% – Cardinal Mine Grove (8,700 ft) – The aspen along the hill closest to Hwy 168 are mostly gone now but the groves that meander along the stream are wildly colorful. Great vies to be had at this location near Cardinal Lodge.

75 – 100% – Table Mountain Campground (8,900 ft)- The groves just below Table Mountain Campground are holding on strong and still looking beautiful. There were a few trees that were burned by last week’s cold front but for the most part this area is still incredibly colorful with lots of orange showing.

75 – 100% – Mountain Glen Campground - Lots of gold and yellow along with some lime green in this section.

75 – 100% – The Famous Mist Falls on South Fork Bishop Creek – The colorful transformation of the aspen surrounding the waterfall has been remarkable this week. Most of the aspen are bright yellow with just a little green holding tough around the waterfall. The below picture is from the 12th but it looks even better today – amazing!

50 – 75% – Four Jeffrey Camp Groves – Plenty of green still yet to change but there is now a lot of yellow and orange developing along the stream near and above Four Jeffrey Campground.

Past Peak – Willow Camp & Tyee Trailhead (9,065 ft) – Still plenty of color to find, but the best and highest concentration of color has come and gone at this location.

Past Peak – South Lake (9,768 ft) – The rock slide on the west shore of the lake is ablaze with yellow, orange and red while most of the groves on the south or east shores are almost bare now. Still a heck of a view with the snow capped peaks in the distance.


The best thing about a late start to fall color viewing is that if you hadn’t yet made plans to see the color, there’s still time.  That’s certainly true in the Shasta Cascade where few areas are showing much color.  Non-native trees are glowing first in urban forests, with some native aspen appearing in Lassen Volcanic National Park.  Here’s the latest from Shasta Cascade color spotter, Katie Shaw…

Butte County:
0-15%- Butte County- The area is still experiencing warmer weather and shouldn’t expect to see dramatic color changes for another few weeks. Trees starting to change are exotic varieties of Chinese pistachios, liquid ambers, and red oaks in the urban forests of Butte County.

Shasta County:
0-15% – Whiskeytown National Recreation Area- The park hasn’t experienced any further color changes. Visitors can hike along one of the many trails in the park to enjoy nature’s beauty and to catch a peek of the fall colors.

Tehama County:
15-30%- Lassen Volcanic National Park- There are a couple places in the park right now that are really showing some fall color including the road to Butte Lake and Manzanita Lake. The aspens along both roads are really changing into beautiful shades of yellow and gold. There are other faint hints of color here and there throughout the park that can also be seen.

Lassen County:
15-30%- Bizz Johnson Trail- A brilliant colorful landscape can be seen along the Bizz Johnson Trail with aspens, pines, oaks, and sagebrush showing off red to golden colors.
Lassen Lands & Trails Trust will also be hosting a “Take the Bus, Bike the Bizz” event, offering shuttle services to enjoy the beautiful fall colors while biking the trail.  Bikers must reserve a spot to shuttle their bike to and from the trail. Catch the bus at the Historic Sunsanville Railroad Depot (check-in at 8:00am) to Devil’s Corral. Bus fares range from $2-$3 depending on your destination to Devil’s Corral or Westwood. 530-257-3252

Siskiyou County:
0-15%- Mt. Shasta- The Mt Shasta area is just now starting to experience fall color changes, which can be seen in the aspens, birch, and maples. The trees are starting to show shades of yellow, orange and golden tones.

Trinity County:
15-30%- Weaverville- The trees are just starting to change, and are changing quickly! Most color can be seen from oaks, maples, and walnuts which are glowing yellow.

Plumas County:
75 – 100% – Plumas County (high elevations) - Richard McCutcheon reports that the highest elevations in Plumas County are now peaking.  Richard rode his quad “61 miles… and it was absolutely beautiful.”   The north side of Babcock Peak and spurs off of Squaw Valley off  US Forest Service road 25N65A are where he took golden photos.

30-50% Plumas County- For the rest of Plumas county, peak is still a week to two away.  Most of the color to be found are exotic varieties in towns like Quincy, though look to the drainages for orange-red Indian Rhubarb and yellow bigleaf maple in the week ahead.

Modoc County:
15-30% Modoc County- The aspens are just starting to change yellowish to orange tones making for an incredible backdrop.


0-15% - Los Angeles County - Frank McDonough of the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden has noted that fall color has been late to appear in LA County, this year (a phenomenon seen across the country), but is now showing at 15%.  A grape vine is cascading a waterfall of red leaves into Baldwin Lagoon and Horned Maple are turning color in time for Halloween. Last year, LA County had a rare show of intense color, largely because the Santa Ana winds did not blow hard to knock leaves from the trees.  If that weather pattern holds true this year, look for the southland to have big color shows, due to it being a wet year.


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