TREES ARE TOPS: Any town that takes its trees to happy heart is surely a town of some beauty, and Nevada City stands branches and limbs among many a burg in this department. What's the evidence that the Gold Country spot is mad for its many firs and maples and chestnuts? Look no further than "The Nevada City Tree Tour," a paper guide to 42 of the area's most spectacular and historic and important specimens. It's a guide that can be carried around and used any time of the year, be the trees bare or barely blooming in the early spring, but roaming under the leafy undercarriages of the town's dogwoods and sweetgums in the autumn is a special and highly colorful pleasure. It's a pleasure further enhanced by a self-guided tour that spotlights several "favorite trees of Nevada City's early settlers." These include many of the local trees that take on crimsons and golds and soft yellow-pinks when late October and November roll around. The feel from the trees is definitely way-back-y -- you understand that they've stood as stunning sentinels in the Victorian-era outpost for decades -- but the buildings that border or back the trees lend that way-back-a-tude, too. All in all, it is a nice and hue-bright and history-tinged and nature-filled approach to spending an hour or two on a bright Sunday afternoon in the fall.
"PARTIAL FIGURE-EIGHT": The Victorian California Fall Colors Tour is "a 1-2 hour, self-guided tour that makes a partial figure-eight through two of California's oldest commercial and residential districts," districts where you can behold "Maple, Ash, Birch, and other favorite trees of Nevada City's early settlers." And you don't need a map in hand to do so; this page from the Nevada City chamber'll provide you the basic directions for your look-upwards ramble. If you can't make your tree toddle in late October or early November, you can admire the shrubby beauties of the town any ol' time, by picking up the aforementioned "The Nevada City Tree Tour" guide at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. It's as free as admiring a tree, which, of course, is one of the greatest free things there is on this planet or any other.