Plumas County: A Fall Color Tour

Longing for a lazy day fall drive? Make for one of California's most colorful stretches.

THAT ONE TREE: If you grew up in a postcard-perfect New England village, the kind with the steeple in the center of town and a creek babbling at the far edge, you probably would be hard-pressed to name a favorite tree, come autumn. They're all beautiful, right? The maples and the oaks and the vines that go from peachy to yellow to a deep burgundy, all over the course of a single month. But if you live in the west, you're apt to have a favorite tree or two from your hometown, if, indeed, your hometown experienced any significant amount of foliage. You might name the tree by the bridge or the one by the pizza parlor as being particularly spectacular around early October. But you are a local, or were, at least; how do visitors find those particularly spectacular trees when and where they occur? There are handy maps, thank goodness, and while foliage finders can't tell leaf peepers when branches'll go glorious, they can tell you where past years have been especially exciting in the fall color realm. Plumas County, not too far from Chico and Redding, is one of the state's most spectacular, if that sort of thing can be rightly measured. And since trees are starting to go full fall, or at least the maples are flirting with the notion, putting together your Plumas plan is a smart idea.

HIGHWAYS 89 AND 70: You'll take in a lot of nature while cruising through the county, if that's your bag: the area "boasts more than 100 lakes, 1,000 miles of streams, and over a million acres of forest land." Hello, wilderness, goodbye, daily frets. Plumas has plenty of pine, which, of course, never seems to get the foliage memo, but the dogwood and aspen? They look vibrant when contrasted to all of that green fir action. The toodle'll take at least a half a day, depending if you follow the whole map, so landing in one of the towns dotting Plumas County for the night is a fine idea, and a way to keep your foliage-admiring eyes well-rested. Start plotting your season-fantastic course here.

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