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Best Places For Fall Colors

You know that fall has arrived when the winds brings that subtle hint of change, not only in temperature, but in the tempo of shorter days and longer nights. The colors on the trees begin to pop out, and before long we are surrounded by an amazing palette of reds, golds, yellows, purples and browns. It's time to head out to find the magic of autumn, glimmering from all the trees. Where do you go? Check the list below for some colorful ideas.
Downtown And Midtown Sacramento
Early Signs Of Autumn
Fall is ridiculously awesome (credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

1 Capitol Mall, Suite 300
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 552-6800

Sacramento is known as the City of Trees. The tree canopy in the downtown and midtown areas provide shade from the scorching summer sun. When autumn comes calling, those same trees explode into vibrant swatches of color. Walk anywhere in the heart of the city and you will be greeted with an amazing diversity of colors. When the winds pick up you can find yourself wandering through a torrent of falling colorful leaves. It's right in the inner city, and it is truly wonderful.

Monitor Pass
Monitor Pass
(Credit: Nick/Flickr)

Alpine County Chamber of Commerce
3 Webster St.
Markleeville, CA 96120
(530) 694-2475 

To get to Monitor Pass you'll go through Markleeville and, if you need information, stop in at the Chamber office as you go through. Monitor Pass is on Highway 89 just a bit southeast of Markleeville, and quite a bit higher. As you motor up the road keep your eyes open. The pass itself is bracketed on both sides by aspens and they can be extraordinary when they burst out into autumn garb. Keep going a bit and you'll find that there are many more opportunities to see some of these magnificent trees just a bit further down the road. On the way back, take the time to stop and look at the landscape that unfolds in front of you. Catch it on the right day and the colors seem to go on forever.

Apple Hill
Apple Hill
Credit: CBS

P.O. Box 494
Camino, CA 95709
(530) 644-7692 (Growers Association)

Head east on US Highway 50. When you get past Placerville, start looking for the signs for Apple Hill. While the area is world famous for all things apple, it also has a very well deserved reputation for being a very colorful place in autumn. Those apple and pear trees put on quite a show. Mixed into the entire area are vineyards, which go head to head with the ranch trees for top of the mark colors. Go early, during the week, as weekends during the apple season can be extremely busy here. Remember to empty your camera's memory card. You'll fill it up here.

Related:  Best Places For A Fall Marriage Proposal In Sacramento

Spooner Summit
U.S. Highway 50 and Nevada State Route 28
Spooner Summit
(Credit: jcookfisher/Flickr)

Just to the east of the Nevada State Maintenance Station is a trailhead for the Tahoe Rim Trail, and a rest stop. This is a little known spot that locals generally keep to themselves. In autumn the aspens here are simply outrageous — it's mind boggling when you pull in. Hike up the trail a bit for an even better view. Go back to State Route 29 and pull into the Spooner Lake parking area for even more color, and more easy hiking. Go early, enjoy the day. This is one that really should be on your list.

Sorensen's Resort
sorensons resort

142588 Highway 88
Hope Valley, CA 96120
(530) 694-2203

There just isn't any way to overstate how phenomenal this place is year-round. In autumn, this is where the colors in Hope Valley light off first. John and Patty Brissenden, who own Sorensen's, say that the reason for this is simply its location, nestled into a north facing flat that fosters aspens and color, across from the West Fork of the Carson River. From here to the west, the intense spread of color in Hope Valley opens up. Aspens and willows are backstopped by the greens in the forest, all the way to Silver Lake. If you can go to only one place this autumn, this is where you, your family, and your cameras need to experience fall colors.

Related: Best Fall Family Getaways In Sacramento

Charles Ferris is a freelance writer who has lived in the Sierra, halfway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, for the last 41 years. In 2010 he retired from teaching after 36 years . He and his wife hike, kayak, cross country ski, snow shoe, ride mountain bikes and road bikes, year round. His work can be found at
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