Autumn Adventurers, Find Fall Foliage Fun

It's the first day of the season, and Visit California has ideas on where to go for golden leaf-peeping.

Corbis via Getty Images

What to Know

  • Visit California's autumn leaves report
  • Julian, Oak Glen, Yosemite, Plumas County
  • Find specific trails and towns to visit for prime leaf-peeping opportunities

We know that snow doesn't immediately fall when winter arrives in Southern California, and that some of the biggest blooms of springtime, like our jacaranda trees, occur weeks after the vernal equinox.

Summer's start 'round these parts is often gloomy, thanks to the solstice popping up in June, and the fall season? The leaves are green, green, green on area trees as the third week of September wraps.

True, those leaves'll go golden, or at least some of them will, after Halloween and probably around Thanksgiving, but you don't need to wait for the SoCal spectacle to get your foliage-fun on.

For there are places within a few hours of Los Angeles that'll be poppin' with leaf-peepers come October, spots like Big Bear, the Eastern Sierra, and Yosemite National Park.

Where to circle on the map, though, as you gather your binoculars, your scarves, and your road-tripping gear? Visit California has a number of ideas, with recommendations for leafy loveliness to see in Lake Tahoe, Grass Valley, and Mono County.

And, yes, Julian, as well as Oak Glen, if you'd like to keep your autumn-flavored outings closer to home. (And, speaking of flavor, those two spots are well-known for their apple pies and cider doughnuts, respectively.)

So it is Sept. 23, the first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and while Southern California is still sunshiny and summer-like, locations like the Cascade Canal Trail near Nevada City and the Lakes Basin Recreation Area in Plumas County'll be doing that dazzle-razzle thing in a very short time.

And we do mean "short," for while fall lasts a fourth of the year, fall foliage does not.

Can't wait for Southern California's more subtle but still sweet fall foliage in November-ish? Find Golden State spots that will be golden before you can say 
"October's almost here and I better hit the highway soon."

One fine idea? Check in with any local visitors' bureaus or tourism centers for up-to-the-minute leaf reports, if you want to time your arrival.

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