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Thursday, 14 October 2021 14:45

California Fall Color Report - 10/14/21

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Aspen leaves captured by Philli Reedy in the Hope Valley of Alpine County Aspen leaves captured by Philli Reedy in the Hope Valley of Alpine County Phillip Reedy

TASTE News Service, October, 14, 2021 -- Following is a summary of reports on autumnal change across California. It is compiled from reports and photographs submitted by a network of volunteer observers.

Beaver Pond PicmonkeyPhotographer Steve Arita fiund this beaver pond in the Lundy Canyon of Mono County

Similar reports on the status of fall color across California will be sent each Thursday until the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day. If you do not want to receive the reports, click the "opt out" option on this email.

All reports are substantiated by dated photography. The California Fall Color Report is provided as a free service to media by CaliforniaFallColor.com.

Areas that turn Past Peak are dropped from the report in succeeding weeks.

A selection of the finest and most representative photographs of fall color taken across California in the preceding week (Best of the Week) is provided to media use by the photographers. All photographers included in this selection have granted permission for their photographs to be made available to media in return for photographer credit.

CALIFORNIAFALLCOLOR.COM BEST OF THE WEEK

To view and use the best photographs taken this week, visit: CLICK HERE

Statewide Summary

Snow fell in the High Sierra this past week, adding visual drama to forests that were already lush with peak orange, red and gold leaves. Peak color is now found above 8,000' in the Eastern Sierra.

The snow came with a price, however. The most vibrant fall color occurs when nights are cold and clear and days are sunny. During the snowfall, it was cold both night and day, freezing the luster out of some of the leaves. High winds that blew on two successive days stripped trees that had peaked fully of their leaves. Trees that had 50% or fewer turned leaves survived the wind. 

Peak areas include:

  • Bishop Creek Canyon (CA-168): (South Fork) - Table Mountain Camp and Mist Falls.
  • Mono County, (from the north): Conway Summit (US 395), Summers Meadow Rd (AWD/4WD recommended), and McGee Creek Canyon.

PEAK, DRIVE AND HIKE OF THE WEEK

These are awarded to locations that will have California's best fall color overall, the best fall color drive and the best hike in the coming week.

  • Peak of the Week is the Mist Falls on the South Fork Bishop Creek in Bishop Creek Canyon (Inyo County).
  • Drive of the Week is the June Lake Loop, CA-158 (Mono County).
  • Hike of the Week is the McGee Creek Canyon Trail (Mono County).

CaliforniaFallColor.com uses the following scale in judging the percentage of change: Just Starting (0 - 10%), Patchy (10 - 50%), Near Peak (50 - 75%), Peak (75 - 100%) and Past Peak.

These assessments are made by local fall color spotters who are experienced at assessing the overall change for a given location. We judge change by location and elevation. In California, autumn color appears at the highest elevations first (above 9,500'), then descends at an approximate rate of 500 to 1,000 feet a week.

The following conditions were accurate as of 10/14/21 and are subject to rapid change.

EASTERN SIERRA

Inyo County

Bishop Creek Canyon

Locations above 9,000' in elevation are now mostly Past Peak, though there is plenty of spectacular color to be seen along the South Fork of Bishop Creek and at North Lake. Mist Falls on the South Fork of Bishop Creek is California's Peak of the Week.

South Fork, Bishop Creek

  • Wier Pond (9,650') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Parcher's Resort (9,260') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Willow Campground (9,000') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • Surveyor's Meadow (8,975') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • Table Mountain Camp (8,900') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • Mist Falls and the Groves Above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350') - Near Peak to Peak (50 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Aspendell (8,400') - Patchy to Near Peak (10 - 75%), Go Now.

Middle Fork, Bishop Creek

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Sabrina Approach (9,100') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • Groves Above Cardinal Village (8,550') - - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • Four Jeffries (8,000') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Intake II (8,000') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800') - Patchy (10 - 50%)

North Fork, Bishop Creek

  • North Lake (9,225') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It!
  • North Lake Rd (9,000') - Patchy (10 - 50%)

Bishop

  • Bishop (4,150') - Patchy (10 - 50%)

Whitney Portal

  • Whitney Portal (8,375') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.

Mono County

In the past week, overcast and snowfall occurred on some (not all) days and in not all Mono County locations. As a result, Lundy Canyon – which was on its way to a beautiful display – is now lackluster. Further, Summer's Meadow and the June Lake Loop have survived. They should be beautiful this weekend.

Despite a few locations having unpredicted setbacks due to the snowfall and sustained cold, a lot of the state's best fall color can be seen in Mono County including: California's Fall Color Hike of the Week (McGee Creek Canyon) and Drive of the Week (June Lake Loop).

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

  • Monitor Pass (8,314') - 100% - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It! - This should be good for only a few more days.
  • West Walker River, Walker, Coleville and Topaz (5,200') - Patchy (10 - 50%) - Just getting going. The Antelope Valley should be best during the last week of October.
  • Sonora Pass (9,623') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Lobdell Lake Road (9,274') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

  • Twin Lakes (7,000') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now! - Twin Lakes is closer to 50% and should get better as the week progresses, and beyond.
  • Conway Summit (8,143) - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW! - The brilliance in the leaves have dulled slightly, but it's worth stopping when driving along US-395. Go Now, as it won't last another week.
  • Summers Meadow (7,200') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - This road has been good for two weeks and remarkably, it's still at full peak and brilliant. Colors cascade down hillsides along three to four miles of dirt road. AWD/4WD vehicle is recommended.

LEE VINING

  • Tioga Pass (9,943') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Lee Vining Canyon (6,781') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - Much of the canyon is still green, although several groves of peaking aspen are found along the road. This area will be perfect in the middle of the coming week.
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - This is a tough one to recommend. Reports of beautiful color were submitted this past week, though some of its groves have suddenly turned past peak, while others are still green, and still others have lost their luster. The best color is now found around the campground and closer to US 395. A report was received of a color spotter who, upon arriving at Lundy, noticed that cars were leaving soon after parking, because of disappointing fall color. A few days ago Lundy was glorious and primed for an epic weekend.

BENTON & 120 EAST

  • Sagehen Summit (8,139') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

JUNE LAKE LOOP

  • DRIVE OF THE WEEK - June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - The Loop is still green to lime-green in many locations, but nice color is found down canyon and around Silver Lake. A few good groves are peaking around Grant Lake. This should be best in 10-14, conditions permitting.

MAMMOTH LAKES

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - Still having trouble getting going here this year but still plenty of color to see.

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

  • HIKE OF THE WEEK - McGee Creek Canyon (8,600') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - McGee has increased in its brilliance, down canyon, over the last few days.
  • Around Crowley community (6,781') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - Great color can be found around the community and along old US 395.
  • Convict Lake (7850') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - It's closer to 50% but should be great this weekend.

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It! - Upper rock Creek Road is past peak at the lake and beyond, has good color in the upper-middle half of the road and Just Starting in the Lower Rock Creek Road.

HIGH SIERRA

Hope Valley

High winds stripped many groves in the Hope Valley that were at peak. Still beautiful are aspen behind Red Lake Creek Cabin, a popularly photographed ranch house on CA-88.

  • Vermilion Grove, Caples Lake (7,800') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Red Lake Creek Groves (7,861') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Red Lake Creek Cabin (7,550') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Blue Lakes Rd (7,550') - - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • The T, CA-88 and 89 (7,000') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Wylder Hope Valley Resort (7,000') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Woodfords Canyon (7,000') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.

Lake Tahoe

  • Martis Creek Cabin, CA-267 (7,000′) – - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Truckee (5, 817′) – Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Lake Tahoe (6,225′) – Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.

CENTRAL VALLEY

  • Waterfowl Migration, Rice Fields, Northern California - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now. - Thousands of migratory birds have returned to feast upon loose rice left in the fields and to rest during their southern migration. Priofuse numbers of black ibis and Snow and Ross' geese are being seen in California's rice paddies.

NORTHERN SIERRA

  • Lake Tahoe (6,225') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • I-80 - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Coldstream Valley, Truckee - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

San Bernardino Mountains

  • Forest Falls Trail, San Bernardino NF (5,700') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Big Bear Lake (6,725') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
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