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Friday, 29 October 2021 09:12

California Fall Color Report - 10/28/21

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Sierraville scene  cptured by Philip Reedy Sierraville scene cptured by Philip Reedy

Editor’s note:  For several years we’ve been fortunate to be able to bring you the California Fall Color report. Below is the fourth of their weekly reports for the 2021 Autumn”

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. Similar reports on the status of fall color across California will be sent each Thursday until the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day. 

All reports are substantiated by dated photography. The California Fall Color Report is provided as a free service to media by Media may extract from the report as they choose.

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 for royalty-free 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 (e.g., Credit: John Poimiroo) as identified in the file name of the photograph.

CALIFORNIAFALLCOLOR.COM BEST OF THE WEEKTo view and use the best photographs taken this week, visit: CLICK HERE

Statewide Summary

Peak Color has ended in the Eastern Sierra and is now most dramatic in the Northern Sierra, Shasta Cascade and Southern California's mountain ranges.

Of these, the Shasta Cascade is where it's at with gorgeous fall color to be seen in the American Valley near Quincy, between Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redding, north on I-5 toward Mt. Shasta and in Trinity County along Hwy 3.

In the American Valley, peak orange, red and gold tumble down the hillsides and light up Quincy like molten precious metals. It's almost as if remaining forests are celebrating their survival from this past fire season's wildfires.

Mushroom hunters are having a field day hunting Chicken of the Woods, an edible mushroom throughout the Shasta Cascade (consume them only if identified by a mushroom expert). Recent rains have stimulated the growth of other mushroom species.

Lake Tahoe's peak was flocked with snow this past week, ending the show, though hidden beneath the white are occasional glimpses of gold, which can be beautiful. 

Black oak are now showing their bold orange color, best seen at 4,000' elevations. Nicknamed the Halloween Tree for its black trunks and branches and deep orange leaves, black oak peak near the end of October and will hold their color well into November. See them in Yosemite Valley, at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, throughout the Western Sierra, in Southern California's mountains and up the Redwood Highway. In many of these places bright yellow bigleaf maple are also at peak, right now.

Frémont cottonwood are carrying heavy loads of yellow and golden leaves near streams, ponds and drainages above 2,000', across California. Below 2,000' they're Patchy, though capped with a chartreuse aura.

In California's urban forests, exotic Chinese pistache (pistacia chinensis) are providing a dazzling show of electric pink, orange, yellow and red colors. They, along with Freemans maple (Autumn Blaze) are among the first exotic trees to declare fall has arrived. Liquidamber, London Plane Trees and many other exotics will soon follow.


These designations 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 Coffee Creek (Plumas County).
  • Drive of the Week is CA-44 from Redding to MacArthur-Burney Falls State Park (Shasta County). For a longer loop, continue on 44 to McCloud Falls, then on to the Town of Mt Shasta, returning on I-5 with stops in Dunsmuir (Hedge Creek Falls, Mossbrae Falls, Botanical Gardens) before returning to Redding.
  • Hike of the Week is the Will Abell Memorial Trail at Lake Arrowhead. This 1.9-mile, scenic, loop trail gains 419' and is considered an easy walk. Dogs on leash are allowed. (San Bernardino County) 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 10/28/21 and are subject to rapid change.


Mono County

Sunday's snowstorm lifted spirits among skiers but ended fall color viewing in the Eastern Sierra.

Walker / Coleville / Topaz

  • West Walker River, Walker, Coleville and Topaz (5,200') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - These and Bishop are the last remaining hot spots in the Eastern Sierra. There's great color along the Walker River and in the Antelope Valley. The towering black cottonwood along US 395 and at Topaz Lake are perfection.

Bridgeport / Virginia Lakes

  • Twin Lakes (7,000') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed it.

June Lake Loop

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed it.

Crowley Lake/McGee Creek Canyon/Convict Lake

  • Convict Lake (7850') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed it.

Rock Creek Canyon

  • Lower Rock Creek Road (7,087') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - The lower section of the trail is at full peak and provides great hiking and mountain biking.

Inyo County


  • Bishop (4,150') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW! - Groves of tall black cottonwood are peaking at Buckley Ponds.
  • Owens River (4,150') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!


  • Truckee (5, 817′) - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Lake Tahoe (6,225′) - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Cisco Grove, I-80 (5,643') - Peak to Past Peak, GO NOW, You Almost Missed It.
  • Downieville, CA-49 (2,966') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Sierra City, CA-49 (4,147') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Sierraville, CA-49/89 (4,957') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!


  • Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino County Vineyards - Patchy (10 - 50%) - Vines peak by grape variety, so you will see some vines at peak while others remain green or slightly turned.


  • American River Parkway - Patchy to Near Peak (10 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Sacramento - Patchy to Near Peak (10 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Mormon Island Wetlands SP, Folsom (377') - Patchy (10 -50%)
  • El Dorado Hills (768') - Near Peak (50 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Placerville (1,867') - Near Peak (50 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Camino (3,133') - Near Peak (50 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Newtown Rd, Placerville (2,447') - Near Peak (50 - 100%), GO NOW!


  • Quincy (3,342') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Cascade Trail, Spanish Creek (5,817') - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • CA-89, Plumas County - Peak (75 - 100%), GO NOW!
  • Coffee Creek (3,068') - Near Peak (50 - 75%), Go Now.
  • Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus ) mushroom hunting - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!


  • Los Gatos (344') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Saratoga (423') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Stevens Creek Canyon (544')- Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.


  • Wrightwood (3,837') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • San Gabriel Mountains (5,900') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Lake Arrowhead (5,174') - Peak (75 - 100%) GO NOW!
  • Lake Gregory (4,554') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Lake Hemet (4,340') - Near Peak (50 - 75%) Go Now.
  • Aspen Grove Trail (7,370') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Barton Flats Visitor Center (6,360') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Oak Glen (4,734') - Patchy (10 - 50%)
  • Rim of the World (7,000') - Past Peak, You Missed It.
  • Big Bear Lake (6,752') - Past Peak, You Missed It.

•             Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens, Arcadia (482') - Just Starting (0 - 10%)

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