Plumas County (10/22-23/2005)

Of all regions in California and probably elsewhere, I found the Plumas County Visitor Bureau, its residents and friends to be most active and enthusiastic about promoting fall foliage excursions. This is commendable since it brings folks from other places that would otherwise not come to the local communities - That was the case for us and several other folks we met during the trip. From the same website, one can find an overview of the region, what route to take to observe fall foliage, up-to-date reports from leaf-peepers, where to stay, etc. all from the same website. Many contributors send in their pictures, making it much easier to visualize.


I saw reports of foliage peaking in Plumas County while traveling in Eastern Sierra. So, within a week of returning home, my wife and I drove to the region for the weekend. We mapped a route that covers what I saw in the report of peaked foliage a few days earlier - Bucks Lake, Highway 89, Crescent Mills, and Indian Valley.

Our trip through the valley up to route 162 was uneventful. As we began to wind up the hills, the foliage began to show signs of autumn. The drive itself was pleasant and scenic. We made several stops along the way to take pictures of oaks, dogwoods, maples, and a whole range of other plants that showing fall colors - many of which I don't know the names of. On the way to Bucks Lake, we found a few aspen groves that had shed most of the leaves. The trees still have appeals for photographic purposes. Bucks Lake itself seems to be covered with evergreen though. I only found a few places with golden foliage. The lake is quite scenic, with vacation cabins along the road. I saw a few folks in their canoes or kayaks and wished I were where they were. It definitely can be one of our vacation destinations going forward.

The foliage became more interesting as we drove past Bucks Lake toward the town of Quincy. We made multiple stops as we found hillsides covered by foliage of a variety of colors, primarily from dogwoods, oak and maples. A word of caution though - the road is windy and hilly. There are not many turnouts along the way, so it's important to find a spot you can park without inhibiting other vehicles. On that Saturday morning, the traffic was light. Most locals seem to know that we were visitors and cut us some slack. One need to look out for these gems, as they appear in small clusters and not in large concentrations such as what you might find on the June Lake Loop drive.



Indian Creek was definitely a highlight as it accompanied Highway 89 on the way to Crescent Mills. Rock outcrops from the creek banks or coming up right from the middle of the creek made for wonderful photographic subjects. There were several locations on the creek where oaks or Indian Rhubarbs show their colors, contrasting with the background of green pine needles. Again, one would need to pay attention to look for great compositions. Generally speaking when I got there, much of the oaks on the hillside were showing brownish yellow colors, probably reaching the stage beyond peak colors. Next year, I'll have to plan better, or get more up to date information for the specific location I plan to visit.



I got a map of the Indian Valley from the owner of the B&B we stayed at and drove around the valley, generally following Indian Creek toward Antelope Lake. There were farms along the way with horses and cows which would make good subjects against the autumn mountains as background. Half way toward Antelope Lake, it was getting darker and we saw the same pattern and decided to head back. After a nice dinner (better than I thought possible at a small town), we took a walk on local streets that had adequate lighting. We stayed away from Highway 89 as traffic was moving at unsafe speed for pedestrians at night. The air was crisp but not cold in that October night.



I had seen reports about fog hovering above the creek early in the morning, I headed out to Indian Creek again (for the third time) to see whether I can catch similar moods. Nature did not disappoint. The whole area was covered in fog, to the point where headlights must be turned on for safety. And it was definitely chilly for me - around 35 degrees. When I reached Indian Creek, the fog rose above tree level, making it easier to see the creek and a layer of mist or fog (not sure what to call it) right above water level. I was able to get a few good shots along the creek. Then I turned back onto Arlington Rd and got a few more pictures of fogs covering a small pond.

Having seen similar patterns of foliage along Indian Creek and Indian Valley and not sure where to go next with limited time, we decided to drive through Lassen National Park on the way back to the bay area. This drive was also quite nice. We made stops at Lake Almanor and along the way to snap more pictures, but for the most part had to keep going to stay on schedule. There were several clusters of nice foliage along the road - one needs to keep an eye out for them though. Lake Almanor seemed to be a stopover point for migrating waterfowls. We saw many ducks and geese when we were there.

Lassen National Park was quite scenic, especially on a clear autumn morning. There was not a big crowd, making it easier and faster to get from one place to another. There were several alpine lakes along the road that did not require any hiking to get to. Even Summit Lake was within a short walking distance. That was a nice treat for me, relating back to the miles I had to hike the previous week to see lakes at Glacier trail and Lone Pine Lake. Surprisingly, even at this elevation, I still found aspen groves with some yellow/golden foliage among barren trees. Close to Hat Lake, these trees looked especially nice against the backdrop of Lassen Peak. As we moved toward the West entrance, we found further nice foliage at Reflection and Manzanita lakes. Highway 44 toward Redding also presented many nice dogwood clusters around Viola.

All in all, it was a nice short trip from the bay area since I never had the opportunity to go to the Plumas region of the state, although it would take at least a long weekend to do justice for a visit. The scenery was beautiful and the folks were friendly. Even though I could probably do better if I get specific guidance from a local visitor center, or perhaps called before I got on the road, I still managed to get several good shots rivaling those I took in Eastern Sierra.

Until next time ...

Click on the image to the right for posted pictures from this trip.