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Where To See Fall Leaves in Southern California

Updated: Oct 7

We wish you best of Autumn vibes during October, the golden month of the season. โฃโฃNature is starting to prepare herself. She is starting to gather up her essentials and let go of what she will no longer need to carry her through the next months.


๐—ก๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒโ€™๐˜€ ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ โ€œ๐—Ÿ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ, ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐˜† ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ.โ€โฃ

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As natives of Southern California, we love the Fall season when the weather is turning crisp in the mornings, and the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow. Fall colors start showing up already in August at around 10,000 feet. By mid-late October, early November, fall foliage is peak in Southern California. Many blessings for a beautiful Autumn!



Here is the list of our favorite Southern California fall leaf peeping spots. Please click the map image to visit the interactive links on the map.



Fall Foliage in Riverside / San Bernardino Counties

Venue/Location: Big Bear Lake

City/Region: Big Bear, San Bernardino Mountains

Types of Foliage: In the fall, the changing colors contrast dramatically against the many evergreens in the area. The Woodland Trail is a family-friendly 1.5-mile loop that starts at the Big Bear Discovery Center and is a great place to see fall foliage and the lake below. The best views are from the hiking trails north of the lake.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Grass Valley Lake

City/Region: Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains; Grass Valley Lake is a reservoir located just 1.9 miles from Lake Arrowhead and home to beautiful scenery, especially in the fall.

Types of Foliage: In the fall, the changing colors contrast dramatically against the many evergreens in the area.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Lake Gregory

City/Region: Crestline, San Bernardino Mountains;

Types of Foliage: Here you will find black oak and Fremont cottonwood trees and pockets of aspen providing orange, buff, gold and yellow splashes of color among deep green pines.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Lake Hemet

City/Region: Mountain Center, Garner Valley

Types of Foliage: Large cottonwood provide a golden canopy to the campgrounds at Lake Hemet in the San Jacinto Mountains. Best chance to see fall leaves is to camp beside the lake surrounded by intense fall color.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November. Weather permitting, the peak lasts for approximately two weeks.


Venue/Location: Oak Glen

City/Region: Oak Glen, North of Beaumont; you can drive the 5-mile loop around the orchards to see the foliage.

Types of Foliage: A beautiful remote area with ample amount of apple orchards whose leaves blend with California black walnut and oak trees.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area

City/Region: Near Hemet; off Interstate 15, east Highway 138, past Highway 143 out of Hesperia

Types of Foliage: Nice autumn vista of black oaks nestled in pines.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Aspen Grove in San Gorgonio Wilderness

City/Region: Near Big Bear, as per SoCalHiker.net, โ€œJust a short distance from Big Bear we found the southernmost aspen grove in California.

Types of Foliage: The quaking aspen (populus tremoloids) are readily identified by the disc-like leaves about the size of a silver dollar. The slightest breeze sets these leaves in motion, leading to that โ€˜quakingโ€™ effect. Itโ€™s beautiful to see and a delight to the ears.โ€

Best time to visit: (may be closed; call to confirm)




Fall Foliage in San Diego County


Venue/Location: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

City: Julian. This beautiful park offers camping and hiking on over 100 miles of trails which accommodate hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

Types of Foliage: Oak woodland forest, with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks. The main fall color tree in this State Park is the black oak. The leaves often turn a nice golden yellow.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Hot Springs Mountain

City/Region: San Diego County. In a wild and lonely corner of the Los Coyotes Reservation stands the highest point in San Diego County. Hot Springs Mountain, which stands about 20โ€ฒ higher than Cuyamaca Peak, boasts the stunning views you would expect from a 6,533โ€ฒ mountain smack dab in the center of the Peninsular Ranges.

Types of Foliage: A dense forest full of a variety of conifers interspersed with deciduous black oaks, whose leaves turn a brilliant gold

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Late-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Palomar Mountain State Park

City/Region: San Diego County. Off Highway 76, up Highway S6, left on Highway S7, at the junction near the peak.

Types of Foliage: A nice autumn vista of bracken fern in the meadows turning a rich golden brown against the dark green of adjacent forests.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Late-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Laguna Mountain

City/Region: Eastern San Diego County. There is also a vast meadow and a lake, which seem out of place in San Diegoโ€™s semi-arid back country.

Types of Foliage: Home to black oak tree which display a vivid mix of green, lime, yellow, orange, gold and buff.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the changing leaves are Late-October through early November.


Venue/Location: Julian

City/Region: Julian; a quaint old mining town an hour northeast of San Diego

Types of Foliage: Fall foliage is unusual this far south, but Julianโ€™s apple orchards offer a chance for leaf peeping late in the season.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the leaves changing is late October into early November with the best views are among the apple orchards.


Venue/Location: Vivian Creek Trail Head

City/Region: Forest Falls, located about 20 minutes above Redlands

Types of Foliage: Itโ€™s a great place to hike along the creek, take a gander at the water fall, and have a picnic.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the leaves changing is late October into early November.



Fall Foliage in Los Angeles County


Venue/Location: Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

City/Region: Los Angeles

Types of Foliage: Sour gum, china berry, Jerusalem thorn, eastern red bud and maples fill with yellow, golden, orange and crimson colors

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the leaves changing is late October into early November.


Venue/Location: Whittier Narrows Recreational Facility

City/Region: South El Monte. Nearly every ecosystem, from swamps, to forest, to desert, is naturally represented at the Whittier Narrows Recreational Facility, where the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers diverge.

Types of Foliage: Nearly every ecosystem; stop by the ranger station any day from sunrise to sunset for information on the plant and animal life that inhabit this nature reserve.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the leaves changing is late October into early November.


Venue/Location: Stoddar Peak

City/Region: Near Mount Baldy. The hike itself is just over 6 miles and just under 1,000 feet in elevation. Mount Baldy is located off the 210 freeway at Baseline exit. You do need to purchase a National Forest Adventure Pass to park anywhere.

Types of Foliage: Fall colors and nice views on a clear day.

Best time to visit: The prime time to see the leaves changing is late October into early November.




Happy Leaf Hunting!

Chef Janine

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