Is Fall Color Over?
Ah, fall in the Northwest backcountry. The golden hues of larches and the deep reds and oranges of vine maple are so undeniably beautiful, and yet so fleeting. Blink too long and they're gone. Weird weather patterns may mean they never exist at all.
Fall color is, indeed, past peak in many places. The Okangogan-Wenatchee's recreation report from October 14 was already lamenting the passing of backcountry color for the year, placing blame on recent freezing temperatures and hard frost that may have stopped color formation in the leaves, and wind that caused many leaves to fall to the forest floor.
The Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest also calls fall colors past their peak due to snow.
Still holding out hope for a fall color hike this weekend? Colors will be brighter at lower elevations where the weather has been milder. Take the guesswork out of which trails will deliver this late in the season by searching WTA's trip reports to see where folks have been seeing the best color the past few days. Here's the trick--when you search trip reports, be sure to click on "show advanced search options." This will give you many more opportunities to narrow your search and find exactly what you are looking for. Try it out.
So, where are people hiking right now?
Mytho-man's trip report for Cowiche Canyon Conservancy near Yakima from October 18 really caught my eye. Check out those colors! I knew this easy hike was a gem for wildflowers in the spring, but I had no idea it had such amazing beauty in the fall.
WTA staffer Ryan Ojerio's trip report from the Loowit Trail at Mount St. Helens from October 20 reminds us that next year is the 30th anniversary of the eruption. He was scoping the trail for upcoming WTA work parties. I thought his report's photos also showcased the more subtle beauty of this transitioning landscape when fall color is just past peak--duller in hue, yes, but striking nonetheless.