While we don’t have maple trees and their crimson hues, Northern California is never bereft of awesome landscapes to see in the fall. The snow-capped mountains and golden foliage of our own deciduous trees are grand and absolutely breathtaking and the crisp in the air lends a freshness to outdoor adventure wherever you find it.
The best time to take advantage of fall foliage is before the frosty temps and rain sets in. Once the mercury drops and the winter rain starts to fall, most of those leaves will be gone – so get out there and grab an eyeful before it’s too late!
Here are some of our favorite fall getaways in No. Cal …
Fall is the best time to visit Yosemite as the summer crowds have come and gone and if you’re lucky, you might not even chance to see another human. The park offers several hikes suitable for every fitness level and the rocky landscapes are punctuated with lots of colorful foliage. Some of the park trees that provide good leaf-peeping value include aspen, dogwood, black oak, white alder, and non-native sugar maple. Beware, though – poison oak abounds at this time of year, and its leaves turn up gorgeous shades of red and purple, so look – but don’t touch!
2. Amador County
El Dorado and Amador counties are great fall destinations for scenery and great sipping. In under an hour from El Dorado Hills, you can be surrounded by natural beauty in the midst of wine country and all that it has to offer. Nestled amongst some of the most scenic rural backroads in the region, you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds: the rugged beauty of our great state and the sensory delights that can only come from the high-quality wines that are produced here. Zinfandel, in particular, is what they are known for in Amador, and there is nothing better to warm your soul on a crisp, sunny fall afternoon.
3. Napa and Sonoma Valley
Heading a little further afield, Napa and Sonoma counties are buzzing at this time of year. Harvest is almost done, with some of the later-ripening varieties still lingering on the vines, but it’s a great time to experience the range of beautiful landscapes, mountains, valleys, and, of course, the great food and wine that make this area so famous. Notable: take a hike up Mount Saint Helena; park at the trailhead at the top of Silverado Trail in Calistoga and set off from there. If you prefer seeing the world from the confines of your car, a drive to the top of the mountain is magical, or meander along the winding country roads between Napa and Sonoma, down Mark West Springs Road, Calistoga Road, or along HWY128 through Knight’s Valley.