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Christopher Hall on a boat, picture

Fall Color in Northern California

Posted by Christopher Hall on September 26, 2013
fall color in Plumas County, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Tracy Sterling
Photo caption
Drive the byways of Plumas County in the northern part of the Sierra for an autumn color extravaganza.

Think New England is the only place to experience spectacularly colorful fall foliage? Think again. In the words of one Web site dedicated to tracking and photographing California fall color, "Dude, autumn happens here, too."

Northern California is full of great spots to catch the fall color show. Here are a few to get you started.

  • Beginning in late September, leaf peepers flock to Plumas County, with Lake Almanor and the Feather River Canyon among the top locations. The county makes the hunt easy with a Fall Color Guide, a Fall Color Tour, and leaf peeper daily reports, all available online.
  • The north Lake Tahoe region is great fall color-viewing country. Aspens are the stars here, with prime time usually starting in mid-October. Among the best spots are Blackwood Canyon, Eagle Rock, and the General Creek Trail at Sugar Pine Point State Park.
  • While autumn color in the mountains may draw most of the attention, you shouldn't ignore lower-elevation suburban parks, streets, and yards. San Rafael, in Marin County, for example, has thousands of ornamental cherry trees, Liquidambars, Japanese maples, and even fruit trees like apricot that turn orange-red, yellow, and gold. About 15 miles west of town, the reds and yellows of the big-leaf maples light up redwood-studded Samuel P. Taylor State Park.
  • Autumn color in Northern California isn't restricted to trees. In Napa Valley, the green grape leaves of summer morph into an astonishing carpet of gold, red, yellow, and brown that typically covers the valley floor from September into early November.

This blog post was first published in September 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.