Alpine Aspen Festival to celebrate fall colors south of Lake Tahoe
Although fall colors in the Sierra Nevada may not be as vibrant this year as in year’s past, there is still plenty to do this weekend in the traditional leaf-peeping hot spot of Hope Valley, just south of Lake Tahoe.
The Alpine Watershed Group and Friends of Hope Valley will host their second annual Alpine Aspen Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 10-11. The festival includes horseback rides through Charity Valley, fly fishing classes, nature hikes, photography workshops and a popular Dutch oven cooking class, among other activities.
New this year is an event expo at the U.S. Forest Service parking lot near the intersection of Blue Lakes Road and State Route 88. The expo will feature live music throughout the festival, which was created to engage people about the importance of high-elevation Sierra Nevada ecosystems, said Nicole Lutkemuller, a watershed program assistant for the Alpine Watershed Group.
The ongoing drought and early summer hail storms are among the circumstances that have created a subpar season of fall colors in the region, said Courtney Rowe, a forest botanist with the U.S. Forest Service. The stress from both factors has caused many aspens, the trees most associated with fall color in the region, to drop their leaves prior to changing color.
“I would say this is a disappointing year for aspen viewing,” Rowe said.
The good news, Rowe countered, is that Hope Valley is among the best places to still see some fall color in the Lake Tahoe area. Luther Pass, Rabe Meadow near the intersection of Kahle Drive and U.S. Highway 50 and Spooner Lake are also among the best spots for those looking to soak in some yellow, orange and brown, Rowe said. The fall colors are at or near their peak for the year, she added.
“There’s still some great places to see them,” Rowe said.
To get to Hope Valley from South Lake, take U.S. Highway 50 west for approximately five miles and turn left on State Route 89, continuing over Luther Pass to Pickett’s Junction at State Route 88.
Space is limited at the Alpine Aspen Fest. Some events are free, while others require an entry fee. More information is available at http://www.aspenfest.org or by calling 530-694-2327.
All proceeds from the festival benefit the Alpine Watershed Group, a nonprofit organization founded in 2006 to preserve and enhance the natural system functions of Alpine County’s watersheds.
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