fall foliage surrounding indian creek with green pine trees

Where to see Fall Colors in Northern California

Photo by Betty Bishop

The best places for fall foliage, without the crowds

In late September and early October, the leaves in Plumas County begin transforming to create stunning natural beauty. From creek beds to mountaintops, vibrant leaves contrast brilliantly against the dark green pines and firs that dominate the landscape. 

We’ve pulled together the best routes that offer an abundance of color and adventure. Read on for a fall foliage guide that gets you off the beaten path and into the heart of Plumas County.

Fall Colors Road Trip Itinerary

Highlights

The twisting, turning drive through the Feather River Canyon in South Central Plumas County is bound to take your breath away.

Highlights

The scenic drive through North Central to Northwest Plumas County meanders along creeks and valleys and provides countless photo opportunities, ending with Lake Almanor and Volcanic National Park.

Highlights

With multiple options for leaf-peeping routes east of Quincy, you can choose your own adventure. Whichever road you choose, be sure to take your time exploring the hidden treasures in Southeast Plumas County.

When to Go

Fall colors tend to start in late September and last through early November. With warm, sunny days and chilly, cozy nights, autumn is a perfect time for a long-weekend road trip into the Sierra Nevada. Read our Awesome Autumn Blog to learn about current conditions and other leaf-peeping updates.

Day 1: Fall Colors Road Trip

The Route: Oroville to Quincy
Highlights: The twisting, turning drive through the Feather River Canyon in South Central Plumas County is bound to take your breath away.

The Feather River Scenic Byway (Highway 70) from Oroville to Quincy is a breathtaking 75-mile drive featuring steep rugged walls, river, unique feats of railroad and hydropower engineering, and fall colors at every turn. Some of the colors will not be as showy this year because of the Dixie Fire. 

Masses of golden oak flanked by blazing dogwood, Big Leaf maple, redbud, and occasional aspen bring color to the mountainsides, ranging from chartreuse to flaxen yellow, all intermixed with evergreens. Foliage generally turns later in the canyon due to lower elevations. 

Along with beautiful fall foliage, notable attractions along the byway include three drive-through tunnels, the Tobin Twin Bridges, the Bucks Creek Powerhouse, the Eby Stamp Mill, and the famous Keddie Wye–the only train trestle of its kind in the world.

Fall Colors In and Around Quincy

Shortly after leaving the canyon, you’ll arrive in Quincy. The trees in and around Quincy become beautiful displays of color. Stately ornamental silver maples, liquid ambers, sycamores, locust trees, and Virginia creeper adorn downtown Quincy, framing its grand four-story courthouse and historic homes with autumn splendor. 

Don’t miss the row of maples at Quincy High School. From there take Quincy Junction Road to Chandler Road for spectacular valley vistas of oak and cottonwood. Then head back through town and up Bucks Lake Road to see large masses of dogwood and Big Leaf Maple. Follow the Big Creek route, and continue a few miles past Bucks Lake, where there are several beautiful groves of aspen and creek willow, and Thompson Lake. Bucks Lake area was threatened by the Dixie Fire but firefighters were able to prevent any major damage. 

Explore Quincy

Quincy is a picturesque town with a historic downtown, a beautiful courthouse, and murals. On most weekends, you can find live local music to end your adventurous leaf-peeping day. 

Some of the best fall hikes in and around Quincy include Cascade Trail, Spanish Ridge, Monument Trail, Q Trail, Feather River College Community Trail, and Mill Creek Trail. Check out our Hiking Guide to learn more.

Stay in Quincy

Quincy

Located in the heart of Plumas County, Quincy California. Easy to find right off the highway with beautiful mountain views. Open 24/7!

Quincy

Full hook-up RV spaces located in downtown Quincy along the beautiful Feather River quietly amongst the riverbank and tress.

Quincy

Greenhorn Ranch is a premier guest ranch in California’s Northern Sierra offering traditional & contemporary ranch activities.

Quincy

Beautiful treed park with great internet tucked away from Highway 70 in Quincy, with rivers, lakes, and recreation areas not far outside of town.

Keddie

Unrivaled privacy on 5 acres of river. Wake up to coffee on the deck listening to the river, birds and basking in the morning sun.

Quincy

Has a small-town atmosphere that will refresh your spirit. Enjoy watching the sunset over Spanish Peak from your own porch.

Quincy

We’re not a five star accommodation but we are the jewel of the Sierra Mountains. Clean, comfortable and with many amenities.

Quincy

Quincy Feather Bed Inn is nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mt. range, in the heart of historic downtown Quincy. Steps to restaurants & watering holes.

Quincy

Ada’s Garden Cottages are a gorgeous oasis hideaway in the center of historic downtown Quincy with full kitchens and cozy-custom-artful-architecture.

Quincy

It’s easy to relax when you are surrounded by this much space and luxury. Our beautifully decorated suites offer all the comforts of home, and more.

Day 2: Fall Colors Road Trip 

The Route: Quincy to Lake Almanor

Highlights: The scenic drive through North Central to Northwest Plumas County meanders along creeks and valleys and provides countless photo opportunities, ending with Lake Almanor and Volcanic National Park.

Head South on Highway 70 until Highway 89 where you’ll head north toward Chester through North Central Plumas County.

The first section of 89 follows Indian Creek and use to include some of the best fall colors in the county but after the Dixie Fire ripped through that area last August it will take many years for it to regain its beauty Masses of golden oak, chokecherry, and dogwood which lined one side of the road, while on the other, the crystalline waters of the creek are accented with amber willow and flaming red Indian rhubarb.

The road opens up to Indian Valley, named for the Native American Maidu, the valley’s original inhabitants. The area is dotted with ranches, old barns, grazing cattle, and quiet roads. Thanks to dedicated firefighters and local organizations working in fire recovery and restoration, we hope fall colors will return to the area before too long.

Indian Valley

If you veer off Highway 89 toward Taylorsville, you can take in the entire expanse of Indian Valley at the base of Mt. Hough. Broadbands of oak and aspen descend the mountain ravines, resembling giant saffron waterfalls. 

Taylorsville is a cute town to take a break and pick up picnic supplies at Young’s Market, stop in at the Taylorsville Tavern, or make a visit to the Indian Valley Museum.

From Taylorsville continue the drive to Genesee Valley where the cottonwoods along Indian Creek can be showy and continue on beyond past Heart K Ranch and on to Antelope Lake.

Option to return to Hwy 89 and continue north through Crescent Mills and into Greenville or take Indian Valley Arm around the east side of Indian Valley and into Greenville and head north.

The road up to Round Valley Lake is worth the short trip to view large groves of dogwood, Big Leaf Maple, and cottonwood. 

Much of Greenville was destroyed on August 4th, 2021 by the Dixie Fire. No lives were lost but more than 200 homes and the historic Main Street businesses were destroyed. There is a massive effort by the Greenville community to rebirth their community but it will take many years. Stop and show your support by visiting the businesses that have re-built.  For some of the best jerky anywhere check out Riley’s Jerky once they are completely rebuilt.

Stay in Indian Valley

Greenville

Experience glamping in the Lost Sierra! Our spacious sites and safari-style tents offer the perfect place to rest, renew, and reconnect!

Lake Almanor

Set in a quiet cove, off Peninsula Drive, this lake access home sleeps 10.

Lake Almanor

Continuing north on Highway 89, you’ll reach Lake Almanor.  Northwest Plumas County serves as a gateway to Lassen Volcanic National Park and a perfect basecamp for leaf-peeping. 

Nestled along the banks of the North Fork of the Feather River, Chester offers vintage charm with unique shops, parks, and museums. Look for beautiful fall colors in the large cottonwoods and other trees along Chester’s Main Street.  At the east end of Chester take a loop walk on the Olsen Barn Meadow with views of Lassen Peak, fall color displays along the North Fork of the Feather, and a 150-year-old pioneer barn. 

If you choose to extend your adventure, the drive into the National Park along Highway 89 is lined with quaking aspen, thermal pools, and stunning landscapes. Along the way you might want to take a tour onto highway 32 and view some of the fall colors along Deer Creek.

Stay near Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor

The Dorado Inn is a waterfront boutique resort, retreat and healing center located on the east shore of Lake Almanor, California.

Chester

This home is located in the heart of Chester. Minutes to Lake Almanor, for boating, water sports, swimming, kayaking, 40 minutes to Mt. Lassen.

Lake Almanor

Nestled in the pines this quiet clul-de-sac cabin is right up the road from your own boat slip at Knotty Pines Marina in Big Cove.

Canyon Dam

Rocky Point is a PG&E operated Campground Located on the West Shore of Lake Almanor just North of Canyon Dam

Mill Creek

Close to the SW entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park. A stay at the historic lodge includes full breakfast, option of dinner and a full bar.

Lake Almanor

Lakefront cabin, sleeps 12, near historic Hamilton Branch Powerhouse.

Lake Almanor

Lakefront home set in a quiet cove with a private dock.

Lake Almanor

Set in a quiet cove, off Peninsula Drive, this lake access home sleeps 10.

Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor Country Club Log Cabin near Recreation Area 2 & Golf Course.

Lake Almanor

Lake View Condominium in Peninsula Village with dock & boat slip. Sleeps 6.

Canyondam

Beautiful resort along the shores of Lake Almanor. We offer a wide range of amenities including; cabins and rooms, an RV park, and a marina.

Chester

Step into our uniquely designed rooms in the heart of Chester.

Chester

Antlers Motel is in the best location in Chester close to shopping, restaurants, parks and trails. Best value in the Lake Almanor area.

Butt Valley Reservoir

Enjoy the outstanding views and tranquil atmosphere at Butt Valley Reservoir when you set up camp at Cool Springs Campground in Northern California.

Canyon Dam

A family owned/operated resort since 1928, featuring 9 cabins, 25 RV sites, marina, cafe and a commitment to providing an amazing vacation experience

Lake Almanor

Big Springs Resort is among the tall pines with a quiet serene atmosphere. Family and pet friendly near Hamilton Branch.

Lake Almanor

Magical home with gorgeous lake and sunset views. Sleeps 10. Located in the Lake Almanor Country Club with all the amenities.

Lake Almanor

Wonderful Lake Almanor Cabin on a deep water parcel with gently sloped lawn to sandy beach, waters edge, and dock.

Butt Valley Reservoir

63 fee sites along the shore of Butt Valley Reservoir. RV’s and tents are welcome with a limit of 6 persons per campsite. Pet Friendly.

Lake almanor

Lakefront condominium on the Lake Almanor Peninsula with boat slip.

Chester

Your perfect basecamp in charming old town Chester, centraly located to Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic NP.

Lake Almanor

Lake Almanor CC Vacation 4 Bdrm, 2 Ba Sleeps 10 2 Game Rooms, Free 90M WIFI Bedding, Towels, Soaps, Coffee Bar, Laundry Room, BBQ All-Season Rental

Day 3: Fall Colors Road Trip

The Route: Quincy to Southeast Plumas County

Highlights: With multiple options for leaf-peeping routes east of Quincy, you can choose your own adventure. Whichever road you choose, be sure to take your time exploring the hidden treasures in Southeast Plumas County.

Just east of Quincy, turn south on La Porte Road and drive less than a mile to the old Thompson Ranch. On the left side of the road stands an enormous English maple that turns incredible shades of champagne pink and deep scarlet. 

The steep 45-minute drive to the former Gold Rush town of La Porte is a spectacular fall color excursion that winds along canyons and meadows, crossing the Middle Fork Feather River and passing a historic bridge. 

Back on Highway 70, dazzling colors of oak, cottonwood and dogwood jump out at you from the roadway, hillsides, and mountaintops between Quincy and Cromberg.. Oaks, cottonwoods, maples, and willows provide significant color along this route, which eventually follows the Middle Fork of the Feather River. You’ll pass the historic Feather River Inn which first opened its doors in 1915. 

Turn onto Highway 89 (25 miles east of Quincy) to head into the village of Graeagle. Lined with an array of identical red buildings that once were homes for workers at the former lumber mill, Graeagle is a great place to stretch your legs, shop, grab a bite to eat, or relax at the Graeagle Mill Pond.

Explore Graeagle and the surrounding area

Beyond Graeagle, it’s easy to spot fall colors along the Middle Fork of the Feather River and Gray Eagle Creek, and numerous hiking trails within Plumas-Eureka State Park and the Lakes Basin Recreation Area also provide excellent off-road foliage viewing. A ride up the Gold Lake Road will be worth your while in early October as the aspen will be turning yellow. 

From Graeagle on Highway 89 you can continue towards Clio traveling along the Middle Fork of the Feather for more fall colors until you reach the wide open spaces of Sierra Valley, one of the largest mountain valleys in the Sierras. From Calpine to Sierraville there can be some very nice fall displays of cottonwoods. From here you can head home by way of Truckee along the Truckee River or do some more leaf peeping on Highway 49 towards Sierra City and Downieville.

Know Before You Go

  • With the drier conditions California has been experiencing, please be sure to check fire permits if you plan to camp.
  • The Canyon has experienced several fires in the last few years, and many trees have been lost. It is still a scenic drive with the Feather River running along most of Highway 70.
  • Read our Awesome Autumn Blog to learn about current conditions and fall color to help plan your trip

Leaf Guide

leaf guide to fall colors in northern california

Regions of Plumas County

Four distinct regions define Plumas County, each with their own alluring qualities, diverse destinations, and unparalleled hospitality.

map of plumas county

 

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