Fall colors are in prime season | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fall colors are in prime season

Eric Heinz
Jeremy Nicholas, left, leads his daughter Paloma, 5, through a trail on a leaf colors hike Friday in the Hope Valley Wildlife Area.
Eric Heinz / Tahoe Daily Tribune | Tahoe Daily Tribune

Restoration ecologist Karen Wiese has a primary tip for vivid leaf seekers — “Go now.”

Wiese said last week that 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.”

The warmer days and cool nights in mid-October have produced 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 Oct. 18.

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 known for their premier fall foliage.

Taylor Creek, near Emerald Bay at the South Shore; the Lam Watah Trail and Rabe Meadow, located on Kahle Drive in Stateline and Cold Creek Trail, located on High Meadow Road off Pioneer Trail each offer outdoor enthusiasts plenty of color.

“Amazing rock work on the upper portions make for a super fun downhill ride through aspens, ferns and past small waterfalls,” Riley said of the Cold Creek Trail.

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