Where to find fall colors close to L.A.: Big Bear is almost at peak


Fall colors came to Big Bear Lake about a week earlier than last year, bringing a gold tinge to the village and forest trails. Aspen, cottonwood, oak and birch leaves turn from green to yellow or gold in the mountain town about two hours northeast of L.A. Non-native maple trees in the mountain resort’s Village add bright reds.

Unless you go soon, you’ll miss the show.


“We’ll have pretty good fall color through the end of October, with peak being early next week,” says Eddie Kirsch, marketing director for Visit Big Bear. Fall colors are most prominent on the south side of the lake.

Good places to start your color quest in the forest: Pineknot Trail, park at the Aspen Glen Picnic Area south of the town; Towne Trail on the south side of the lake; and the Castle Rock Trail, which begins about a mile east of the dam on California Highway 18.

“Drive up here into the mountains, and you’re going to see the fall colors everywhere,” Kirsch says.

The popular aspen grove, an oasis of gold in the forest, is now open. Access on forest roads to the Aspen Grove Trail had been closed because of damage from the 2015 Lake fire.


The California Fall Color website also recommends these “go now” locations in or near the San Bernardino Mountains: Running Springs, Lake Gregory, Lake Arrowhead and Grass Valley Lake.

Make sure you dress warmly and are prepared for cold nights, as temperatures drop into the 30s, Kirsch says.

See California gold (aspen trees) and other leaf-worthy sites in Bishop and points north.

Oct. 9, 2019

Moving north to the Eastern Sierra, fall colors in the Bishop Creek area continue to chug along, particularly at North and South lakes. “Of all the years that has reported fall color from Bishop Creek Canyon, 2019 sets a record for lasting to mid-October with NO ‘past peak’ areas,” the website says.