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Saturday, 05 November 2016 14:11

America’s Longest and Most Varied Fall Color Season

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Dogwood at Tioga Pass Dogwood at Tioga Pass photo: Darrell Sano

TASTE News Service, November 4, 2016 - New England is where most Americans might say you’d find the best fall color in the USA, but not John Poimiroo. Ask him and he’ll say, “California.”

Poimiroo edits CaliforniaFallColor.com, a blog that provides weekly (often daily) reports on where to find autumn color in California. The blog reports fall color from before the first day of autumn to Thanksgiving Day, and often into December.

CaliforniaFallColor.com got started in 2009 after Poimiroo uncovered the beauty and broad scope of California’s autumn. He said, “Unlike other areas of the nation where fall color descends by latitude, ours descends by elevation. It starts above 9,000 ft. and drops to sea level at a rate of about 500 feet a week. That means the show continues for almost four months.”

“This makes the display very dependable and predictable,” Poimiroo said. “Elsewhere in the nation, if you weren’t at a viewing location exactly when the leaves were at peak color, you missed the show, but here if you just missed it peaking at 9,000 ft., descend to 8,500 ft. and it will be peaking there,” he explained.

Poimiroo said, “Before I started the blog, many of my readers told me they weren’t even aware we had such an awesome autumn. Like most Californians, they live near the coast where there’s not much color change in fall. Though, from the pictures and detailed reports on my site, they learned where to go to see our state’s colorful show. Today, we have 60,000 regular followers who tell me of their amazement at visiting places reported about on the site.”

The first signs of autumn are seen along the eastern slope of California’s High Sierra, near the towns of Bishop in Inyo County and Mammoth Lakes in Mono County. Up canyons that lead into the High Sierra, ground cover begins turning crimson in late summer while wildflowers are still blooming.Josh Wray Parker Lake 2 PicmonkeyStandup kayakers at Parker Lake captured in Josh Wray photo

Above 9,000 ft., California’s quaking aspen are the first trees to change in mid-September from lime green to yellow, orange and flame red. Groves of the colorful aspen are reflected in the opalescent blue waters of North, South and Sabrina Lakes west of Bishop and at Sherwin and Mammoth Lakes, providing what some have rated as the most dramatic show of fall color in the nation.

California’s Inyo National Forest in the Eastern Sierra beat out national forests in New England, the Allegheny and Green Mountains in a listing of the top ten fall forests evaluated for The Weather Channel, by GORP.com, a national outdoor recreation website.

Along the western Sierra, Yosemite Valley (5,000 ft.) shows from mid-October to November, whence, rosy dogwood and the orange foliage and black branches of the valley’s black oak provide Halloween contrast to the valley’s granite walls and deep blue skies.

In the vast Shasta Cascade region of northeastern California, orange-red Indian Rhubard, bright yellow California bigleaf maple and orange oaks decorate the streams and forests of Plumas County, Lassen Volcanic National Park, along the banks of the Sacramento River and between Redding and Weaverville on State Highway 299.

California’s vineyards provide another of the state’s distinctive displays of fall color. Just like the varied flavors to be tasted in their wines, the vines are dressed in bold red or a blend of lime, yellow, orange and crimson grape leaves, throughout October.

Southern California’s San Bernardino, San Jacinto, San Gabriel and Laguna Mountains each have pockets of bright yellow and orange color from groves aspen, bigleaf maple, cottonwood and black oak. King City along the Salinas River in California’s Central Coast is similarly splashed with yellow. Though, due to these locations lower elevations, each displays its fall color later and for shorter periods.

The last of California’s long display is seen in November as exotic trees, planted because of the state’s forgiving Mediterranean climate, begin to glow with warm fall color in California’s urban forests. Sacramento, Danville, Chico, and arboretums in San Francisco and Arcadia are known for their colorful trees.

“It’s our state’s long and varied display of fall color, set against California’s dramatic landscape, that has leaf peepers, photographers and people now turning to CaliforniaFallColor.com to plan their trips,” Poimiroo said. “A corps of volunteer color spotters provide dated reports and photos that show where the color can be seen and at what stage the color has turned. And, with the changing season, they start reporting high up in the mountains in September, until the last reports come from the cities in November.”

To see these reports, visit www.californiafallcolor.com.


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