One Road, Many Neighborhoods: San Antonio St., San Jose
West Coast Fall Color Experience, part II

Reveling Autumn: West Coast Fall Color Experience

We Americans revel in the colors of the autumn — an experience commonly associated with the northeastern section of the country — on the cusp of summer’s transition to fall.

Yet, leaf peeping isn’t just an endeavor for visitors to the Northeast. Indeed, Oregon and California have their own leaf peeping season. And, best of all, the changing colors take place in areas where the bike riding is memorable.

John Poimiroo writes in the blog, California Fall Color, that fall foliage starts appearing in August at about 10,000 feet and drops at a rate of 500 to 1,000 feet a week. In keeping with this rule of thumb, this month we take a look at some upper elevation areas and move down to sea level in the region Cycle California! covers: the southern half of Oregon, most of California, and the Tahoe/Carson Valley region of Nevada.

For the Cycle California! November/December issue we will focus on places closer to sea level where fall colors show up later in the year.


Klamath Falls, Oregon

Autumn leaves in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Discover Klamath.

Although the area around Klamath Falls, Oregon, is high desert, the areas that touch Lake Klamath and the area’s rivers and streams have groves of aspen — those trees that turn with a golden glow — a startling contrast to the evergreens that surround them. The town sits a touch over 4,000 feet and offers some amazing riding — both road and mountain biking.

Riding Klamath

The OC&E Woods Line State Trail takes bike riders along a partially paved former railbed from Klamath Falls into the Winema National Forest where you can see stands of aspen silhouetted against always-green conifers and lodgepole pines.

Aprés Ride Refreshment

Breakfast/Lunch: The Waffle Hut, 2065 Oregon Ave., Klamath Falls (541) 273-1444

Dinner: Rooster’s Steak & Chop House, 205 Main St., Klamath Falls (541) 850-8414

Klamath Basin Brewing Company, 1320 Main St., Klamath Falls (541) 273-5222


Graeagle, Plumas County, California

Fall colors around Plumas County
Plumas County Fall Colors map

At an altitude of 4,373 feet the tiny town of Graeagle, California, sits along State Route 89, and should be seeing colors popping right about now. Nestled among evergreen pines you will find the red leaves of California Black Oak and Mountain Dogwood. As for the riding, at this time of year the tourists are gone so you virtually have the roads to yourself.

Riding Graeagle

The area is home to Downieville (of Classic fame), and has all kinds of trails open to mountain biking. For roadies, a favorite road ride of the locals is the loop up to the Lakes Basin Recreation Area along Gold Lake Highway (State Route 49).

Aprés Ride Refreshment

The Brewing Lair, 67007 California Highway 70, Blairsden, (530) 314-0940

Breakfast/Lunch: The Village Baker 340 Bonta St., Blairsden, (530) 836-4064

Bread & Butter,  21 Bonta St., Blairsden, (530) 394-0303 (closes for the winter)

Dinner: The Blackbird Inn, 276 Lower Main St., Clio (530) 836-7325


Fallen Leaf Lake, South Lake Tahoe, California

Autumn at Fallen Leaf Lake
Color change at Fallen Leaf Lake, near South Lake Tahoe. Cycle California! Magazine staff photo.

This tiny alpine lake just a few miles from Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe, California’s south shore, has copses of quaking aspens that turn a vibrant yellow in the fall. Fallen Leaf Lake at 6,377 feet, has several trails that follow the ridgetops around the lake and offer quiet challenge — they have just enough solitude at this time of year so you feel away from the crowds in Tahoe South.

Riding Fallen Leaf

An easier ride is Fallen Leaf Lake South Shore Lollipop, a 4.5 mile loop on the sandy soil near the lake.

More of a challenge is the Angora Ridge/Tahoe Mountain Loop, a 12.4-mile singletrack circuit that rises gently so you have a bird’s eye view of Lake Tahoe.

Aprés Ride Refreshment

Breakfast/Lunch: Red Hut Cafe, 3660 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe (530) 544-1595

Dinner: Naked Fish, 3940 Lake Tahoe Blvd.,


Bishop, Eastern Sierra, California

NFork Bishop Creek McKenzie
Orange & yellows compete with greens at Bishop Creek in the Eastern Sierra. Photo courtesy of Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau.

The area surrounding the town of Bishop, California, is an outdoor wonderland of trails for biking or hiking, rock climbing, camping and fishing. At this time of year, the area is a nice place to witness the changing of the seasons. Bishop Creek Canyon, at 4,400 feet, showcases the area’s stands of aspens and willows. Follow State Route 168, W. Line St., from town into the canyon where there are so many places to see the changing colors of the forest.

Riding Bishop

Can an off-road ride be easy and hard at the same time? The 24-mile Volcanic Tablelands Loop offers high-altitude riding near Bishop on Bureau of Land Management property known as Volcanic Tablelands Wilderness Study Area. The trail consists of doubletrack and some dirt road with very little elevation gain (the easy part), although the soil is soft and sandy, so you won’t do much coasting.

Aprés Ride Refreshment

Breakfast/Lunch: Great Basin Bakery, 275 South Main St., Bishop (760) 873-9828

Dinner: Whiskey Creek Restaurant, 524 North Main St., Bishop (760) 873-7777


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