11 California hikes to see spectacular fall foliage — before it disappears
Let me start with some expectation setting. There are many trails in L.A. that can give you small bursts of autumn color, for instance, in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains. But if you’re looking for some epic, sweeping vistas filled with brilliant foliage that screams “fall,” you’re going to have to hop in the car for a drive.
Believe me: It will be worthwhile. Those who decide to take a road trip to cooler climates will be rewarded with our state’s unique autumnal delights. Although we don’t have the idyllic colonial villages of New England, we do have the stunning backdrops of mountain ranges and alpine lakes. And while we have fewer species of trees that change color, we have a much wider range of elevations. This means that some types of trees can provide their own rainbows and that our fall color season lasts a lot longer than many popular leaf-peeping spots on the East Coast. You can keep track of current conditions throughout the state on the stalwart site California Fall Color, which is now run by its new editor Lara Kaylor.
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Due to last winter’s exceptional precipitation and the more recent remnants of Tropical Storm Hilary, expect some road conditions to be a bit rougher than usual. Most major roads are passable, but Inyo and Mono County officials have noted that road shoulders may be eroded or damaged, which may limit parking.
As we enter another wet season, be sure to check road conditions along with foliage reports. Inyo County and Mono County provide updates on their websites, and the Caltrans QuickMap has information on road conditions state-wide.
With that, pack your car, put something pumpkin-spiced in your insulated travel mug, and enjoy these California foliage destinations. And if you prefer to stay around town, I’ve included some solid local strolls.
North Lake Road
Big Pine Lakes
Aspen Grove Trail
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
Rock Creek Lake
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