Fall Color Report: Lassen & HWY 299

Lassen AU12-381

I had a chance to venture forth to Lassen Volcanic National Park over the weekend (the first weekend of autumn, 2012), and while I was about my business noticed patches here and there of fall color bursting forth. Very little, however, in the Manzanita Lake area of Lassen, nor along HWY 89 as it courses through the main part of the park. Here’s a photo of Reflection Lake, which glimmers and reflects right next to Manzanita Lake:

Really hardly the slightest hint of fall color here among the deciduous bushes on the far shore. No better in the Hat Lake area, which is a prime spot for fall color in Lassen:

True enough, a slight hint of yellowing in the bush, but I would image we are still weeks away from peak color here. In 2008 I drove through this area a week before the end of October and it was just nearing peak color then. Will it be earlier this year?

There is one area just outside the park’s northern, Buttle Lake entrance where some trees are showing remarkably good color for so early in the season:

I’m assuming these are aspens (I’m pretty much a tree illiterate). Pretty nonetheless.

Although this is only a few miles from Butte Lake and Cinder Cone, and around the same elevation, this was the only color I found that was so advanced. On the top of Cinder Cone there are some bushes that are beginning to turn here and there, but are nonetheless mostly green:

On the way back to the northcoast of California from Lassen, I noticed a bit of color here and there in the Redding area. At Shasta State Historical Park one tree had turned entirely. Indeed, the leaves had crinkled and turned brown:

There are some deciduous trees in the park that should turn in a month or so. Just a hint of color as yet:

Between Whiskeytown Lake and Willow Creek, I didn’t notice much color at all. Green predominated, not merely from the preponderance of evergreen trees, but even among the scattered deciduous trees and bushes:

I ran across considerably more color on the stretch of HWY 299 between Willow Creek and Blue Lake. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos.

To conclude: some signs of early color in northern California in patches. Sign of an early season for peak color? Perhaps. Who knows. Perhaps after a dry, warm summer, winter will come early this year and the more prescient trees and bushes are getting ready. Last summer we saw fall color coming late, and winter didn’t strike the higher altitudes until November.