Falling in love with fall: colors burst as temperatures drop

In the Lake Tahoe Basin, where trees and wildlife are quickly preparing for winter, now is the time to see the beautiful shades of orange and yellow on the leaves.
Provided/Clayton Towns

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Fall is here and on Sunday, October 9, the Hunter’s Full Moon will rise again, peaking at 1:54 pm According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the best time to see the full moon is around sunset. , when the moon is just beginning to shine over the horizon.

Hunter Moon comes at a time in fall when the leaves are changing in the Truckee-Tahoe region.

CaliforniaFallColor.com Publisher and editor John Poimiroo said that the two main factors in color change are temperature and light. As the days get shorter and cooler, the leaves are exposed to less sunlight, causing them to stop producing chlorophyll.

But for those wondering why some areas of the country don’t have “seasons,” Poimiroo has the answer.

“Deciduous trees are activated to recognize that it’s time to drop those leaves,” Poimiroo said. “And they do it as a defense mechanism. Typically, [leaf shedding] the trees are in areas where the snow could break the branches if the leaf were to stay on the trees.”

Eighty percent of the people who live in California live near the coast, which means that a low percentage of Californians experience color changes in the fall.

In the Lake Tahoe Basin, where trees and wildlife are quickly preparing for winter, now is the time to see the beautiful shades of orange and yellow on the leaves.

Fall colors are vibrant on Highway 267.
Robert Galloway/Sierra Sun

“Optimal conditions are basically warm days and cool nights, and when we have those cool, clear nights and warm days, we’re going to get good fall color development,” Poimiroo said.

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One reason Poimiroo says to get out earlier rather than later to see the beautiful colors is because there is an algae that starts to appear on some leaves that forms during the spring when rain is followed by sub-zero temperatures.

“That generates this black dot algae in the fall,” Poimiroo said. “You don’t see it until the leaves start to turn and then it’s revealed to be there. Also, this drought we’ve been through can make the color change short-lived. There isn’t a lot of water in the trees or on the ground, so when they dry out, they don’t feed and those leaves can start to fall faster.”

When visiting the many places in the Truckee/Tahoe area to see the fall colors, remember to plan ahead to reduce your chances of harming the environment, including planning your route and dressing for the weather.

“They don’t create a new path,” Poimiroo said. “Walk on an established trail, use established paths, and be careful not to create new ones or harm the environment. It can be really tempting to walk through the woods to get a picture of a particular leaf, but if there’s no trail nearby, or you can see it’s going to cause damage, I wouldn’t do it.”

There are many places to visit in the Truckee/Tahoe region that allow for scenic views and incredible hiking experiences.

“In Lake Tahoe, there are a number of areas around the lake that have beautiful colors, like some of the parks on the Nevada side on the east side of the lake that have beautiful colors and then they go through South Lake Tahoe up. towards Emerald Bay there is a beautiful color,” said Poimiroo.

Red Lake Cabin Creek in Hope Valley is a popular spot for leaf-gazing.
Provided/John Poimiroo

hope valley

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According to Poimiroo, driving up to Hope Valley will give visitors incredible views this time of year.

“Hope Valley has a large aspen stand that is quite beautiful,” Poimiroo said. “In fact, right now they’re nearing the peak.”

The valley is a favorite destination for fly fishermen, artists, photographers, and hikers who have come to appreciate the natural beauty.

Picturesque views complement the aging cabins and the Wylder Hotel, which has a restaurant and log cabins that will put you in the perfect fall portrait.

Quaking Aspen in Hope Valley off California State Route 88.
Provided/John Poimiroo

Rose Highway and Meadows

As you head up Nevada State Route 431 on the Mount Rose Highway, take in the beautiful views of the trees lining the road, with plenty of room to stop at the Meadows to walk and watch.

The Meadows features a variety of foliage and wildlife, with an interpretive loop trail available to all. This 1.2-mile hike is also wheelchair accessible and creates the perfect walk to view the fall colors.

Martis Creek Cabin

Get ready for incredible views and the most beautiful hues in the Truckee area off California State Route 267 just past Kings Beach.

“There’s a famous old cabin there and a lot of couples getting married will have their wedding photos taken near this abandoned cabin because it’s so rustic,” Poimiroo said. “You can walk right into it. It’s in the meadow and there are beautiful stands of Aspen all around it.”

Mid-October is when the area peaks with the best fall colors.

To see more fall leaf-peeping hikes in the Truckee-Tahoe region, visit https://www.visittruckeetahoe.com/blog/fall-hikes.

Miranda Jacobson is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Tribune. She can be reached at [email protected].

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