Restoration ecologist Karen Wiese has a main tip for vivid leaf seekers — “Go now.”
Wiese said there are only a couple weeks left in the season to see the leaves in their most vibrant capacity. The time of year leaves change color can vary each year, she said.
“It’s dependent on water availability, the temperature during day and night, and it’s also dependent on the weather, if it’s cloudy or sunny,” Wiese said. “If there are bright sunny days and cool nights, that’s fantastic for the production of the yellow and the red pigments.”
Right now, the warmer days and cool nights in mid-October have been producing vibrant yellows throughout Hope Valley.
Moisture in the area is critical to the changing of color in regard to how much nutrition the trees get, Wiese said.
“The bigger picture is the soil,” she said. “Historically, our summers, the dry period, they are getting longer, so our forest soils are getting dryer. The trees are becoming more weak.”
In addition to the leaves not changing as vividly, Wiese said, when the trees dry, beetles that feed on bark can get within inner layers and destroy the trees.
“We’re not getting rain that sustains us,” she said, adding California should have received more rain between Sept. 15 and Friday.
However, Hope Valley was bright yellow throughout its aspen groves on Friday.
Sorensen’s Resort, located within Hope Valley, hosted a fall colors hike Friday, which was led by Wiese.
The tour along the trail, in addition to the leaves, included what Wiese calls “arbor glyphs,” or tree markings, with some as old as 100 years.
“When people have somebody show them things that if they were walking they wouldn’t notice, maybe a mushroom or mosses or little holes in the ground, they become more connected to it,” Wiese said.
Leaves also present an economic benefit, too, Wiese said, because it’s not uncommon for leaf seekers to spend $250 to $350 a day when visiting the area, depending on what they do and where they stay.
Lake Tahoe Visitor’s Authority integrated marketing manager Georgette Riley provided three additional areas that also are known for their premier fall foliage venues.
The Taylor Creek Visitor Center, located near Emerald Bay in South Lake Tahoe, is now open to the public, but the visitor center itself is not.
Lam Watah Trail and Rabe Meadow, located on Kahle Drive in Stateline, have known areas where the leaves change vibrantly, and there also are bike trails, Riley stated.
Cold Creek Mountain Bike Trail, located on High Meadow Road off Pioneer Trail, offers 1,400 vertical feet of hiking through aspen groves, Riley stated.
“Amazing rock work on the upper portions make for a super fun downhill ride through aspens, ferns and past small waterfalls,” Riley stated.