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Tuesday, 25 September 2018 13:50

California Fall Color Report

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Pack train in Little Lake Valley of Mondo County. Pack train in Little Lake Valley of Mondo County. Liz Grans

Editor’s note: As it did last year, Taste California Travel will endeavor to bring you news of California’s beauty in fall.

We’re indebted to John Poimiroo, Editor and Publisher of CaliforniaFallColor.com, where you will have access to more beautiful photos and up-to-the-minute information on evolving autumn conditions.


The Autumnal Equinox (first day of autumn) just occured on Saturday, Sept. 22, and yet Near Peak fall color has already been reported in Eastern Sierra forests.

Each Thursday until Thanksgiving Day, CaliforniaFallColor.com will e-mail this California report to weather, outdoor, travel and news media across California. It is a summary of where autumn color has been reported in California and at what stage of change it has reached in the past week.

Over 100 volunteer color spotters throughout California contribute to this report at some point during autumn. They are landscape and wildlife photographers, hikers and backpackers, nature lovers, destination representatives and people who enjoy the change of season.

Their reports are confirmed by the submission of dated photographs, showing where and when the color was seen.

Note: California fall color drops at an approximate rate of 500 to 1,000 feet in elevation each week. This makes it possible to estimate when peak will appear at lower elevations in a given region.

Fall Color 2 tLs4sxng PicmonkeySurveyor's Meadow in Bishop Creek Canyon as captured by Jared Smith

Statewide Summary

Near Peak (50-75%) color is being reported at Sagehen Summit (CA-120E) and Rock Creek Lake in Mono County (Eastern Sierra). This means that 50 to 75% of all trees or shrubs (in these cases, Quaking Aspen) have reached peak fall color at these locations. Traditionally, the Eastern Sierra is the first region of California to peak, due to foliage growing up to 10,000’ in elevation, there. Peak autumn color has been seen in individual trees and shrubs for the past two weeks, throughout California, but the Sagehen and Rock Creek reports are the first of widespread color change. Peak color is being reported among subalpine and alpine meadow grasses and shrubs. Ferns, grasses and shrubs in meadows and forests are among the first plants to show fall color change.

Eastern Sierra

Inyo County

Spotty color is being seen at and above 9,000 in elevation in Bishop Creek Canyon. Locals are expecting color change to advance rapidly at these high elevations in the coming week. They believe the slower start has been due to summer-like weather, late into September.

Bishop Creek Canyon

South Lake (9,768') - Patchy (10-50%)

Wier Pond (9,650') - Patchy (10-50%)

Parcher's Resort (9,260') - Patchy (10-50%)

Lake Sabrina (9,150') - Patchy (10-50%)

Sabrina Approach (9,100') - Patchy (10-50%)

North Lake (9,225') - Patchy (10-50%)

All other areas of Inyo County and Bishop Creek Canyon are Just Starting (0-10%) or have not yet reported.

White Rabbitbrush (3,300 to 11,500’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – This late-blooming, aromatic shrub has carpeted the high plains of the Eastern Sierra with cadmium yellow blooms.

Hoover Wilderness

Cascade Lake (10,100’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! - Dwarf Bilberry (a late summer/early fall ground cover) have painted the granitic landscape with vermillion vibrance

Mono County

Summary: Sagehen Summit (CA-120E) and Upper Rock Creek (Rock Creek Lake and trails to Hilton Creek and Little Lakes Valley are Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! and predicted to peak within a week.


Monitor Pass (8,314') - Patchy (10-50%)

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600') - Patchy (10-50%) - Burcham Flat Rd. is now open to through traffic only, with no stopping in the Boot Fire burn area.

Bridgeport/Virginia Lakes

Twin Lakes (7,000') - Just Starting (0-10%)

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) - Patchy (10-50%) - Approaching Near Peak.

Lee Vining

Tioga Pass (9,943') - Patchy (10-50%)

Benton & 120 East

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) - Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! - Peak color at the top with vibrant reds with yellows and greens abundant at the lower levels around the road.

Rock Creek Canyon

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) - Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! - Full peak color around the lake and in the trail heads of Hilton Creek and Little Lakes Valley. Patchy below Rock Creek Lodge and green below East Fork Campground.

High Sierra

Alpine County

Hope Valley(7,300’) – Just Starting (0-10%) - Famous for its aspen groves, the Hope Valley’s trees are just beginning to show lime and yellow color.

Zinfandel Grapes Poimiroo 9QZ6OADg Picmonkey Wilderotter Vineyard Zinfandel Photo by John Poimiroo

El Dorado County

Kyburz (4,058’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Bracken fern are carpeting the forest with golden yellow color.

Gold Country

Amador County

Shenandoah Valley Vineyards – Just Starting (0-10%) – Zinfandel grapes at Wilderotter Vineyard in Plymouth hand in heavy indigo bunches, as they’re being harvested now as a few of their leaves are blushing as if excited about the harvest, gilded with yellow or dried to orange-brown.

Shasta Cascade

Plumas County

Red Clover Valley (5,400’) – Just Starting (0-10%) – Aspen are highlighted with lime and yellow along the Beckwourth/Genessee Rd..

Meadow Valley (3,600’) – Just Starting (0-10%) - Indian Rhubarb have begun to exhibit their iridescent colors along Big Creek near Buck Lake. Their leaves seem bigger than usual this autumn.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Cliff Lake (10,463’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! - Crimson knotweed are a brilliant red color.

Kings Creek Meadow (7,300’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Meadow grasses and shrubs are peaking buff, gold and yellow color.

Los Angeles County

Santa Monica Mountains (Just Starting (0-10%) – Fox squirrels are stripping the last California Black Walnut trees of their nuts up Bel Air’s wild canyons.

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