Nature puts on for us a spectacular annual show, a show most commonly known as "fall." Of course, Southern California "doesn't have seasons" (or so they say), so there's simply no point in going looking for any fall color -- or is there?
Well, interestingly enough, there's a lovely grove of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in Southern California. Yes, you heard that right, there are quaking aspen in Southern California. And quaking aspen are famously colorful in the fall.
|Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) in Southern California|
Well, the answer lies in geologic history. In the last ice age, a cooler, moister climate prevailed here in Southern California. Trees like the quaking aspen prospered. After the ice age, the area grew warmer and drier, the aspens largely died out, but a small remnant grove of aspens was left behind in a sheltered spot along the banks of Fish Creek high in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, a spot now appropriately known as Aspen Grove. Please join me as I take a brief look at this year's fall display.
|Fall colors at Aspen Grove in Southern California|
|The turn off to Aspen Grove and Fish Creek|
Note: The San Gorgonio Wilderness is a federally designated wilderness area. A wilderness permit is required for all day and overnight use. Contact the Mill Creek Ranger Station to obtain a free permit. See contact information in Appendix "A," below.
|The well marked trailhead for Aspen Grove.|
|The brilliant colors of the quaking aspen stand in stark contrast to the surrounding forest|
|Fish Creek at the crossing point en route to the aspens. Easily crossed.|
|Lovely Fish Creek, just above the crossing|
|Entering the first stand of aspens|
|The Aspen Grove trail heading through the aspens.|
Turning, we now head north. We leave the dense stand of aspens at the entry point of the wilderness and head through more open forest with a mixture of aspens and conifers.
|Heading through mixed, open forest en route to the more northern stands of aspen|
|Easy hiking in Aspen Grove|
|A large, relatively pure stand of quaking aspen|
|Fall gold in Aspen Grove|
|Aspen aglow in the afternoon sun|
|Ripe fall gold|
|Fall color in the late afternoon|
|Vivid late afternoon hues|
|The shifting sun variously highlights the brilliant autumnal leaves|
|Aspens in the fading light of evening|
|A parting shot of fall's glory at Aspen Grove|
I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at the fall colors of Southern California. I thank you for joining me,
Appendix "A" -- Contact Information
Mill Creek Ranger Station
34701 Mill Creek Rd.
Mentone, CA 92359
Appendix "B" -- Personal Notes
This post of course is concerned primarily with the rich fall colors of Aspen Grove, but really Aspen Grove is a splendid family hike any time the weather is good and the road is open (check with the Mill Creek Ranger Station concerning road conditions).
The banks of the creek are shaded and are a perfect spot for a picnic or just "hanging out."
|"Hanging out" at Aspen Grove|
|Father-daughter time at Aspen Grove|
|Hammock time at Aspen Grove|