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Oak Glen
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Don GrahamOak Glen

This map predicts when Los Angeles will hit its fall foliage peak

Yep, we still have fall colors—you just need to know where and when to look.

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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The crunch of leaves under your feet after months of drought, autumnal breezes blasting hot air all over the Southland, reds and oranges everywhere because everything is on fire—there’s truly nothing quite like fall in Los Angeles. But we’re exaggerating (just a little): L.A. isn’t entirely exempt from seasonal charm, and fall foliage is no exception.

Of course, figuring out when that sole indicator of fall will actually show up is half the challenge, but thankfully SmokyMountains.com has a fall foliage prediction map for the entire country, including the L.A. area.

The annual interactive map, which uses an algorithm that pulls in data from sources like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tells what you probably already know: That foliage in Southern California lags behind much of the country. The map has L.A. pegged to cross over from no change to minimal foliage by October 11, with incremental advances toward colorful leaves each week after that. If you’re looking for the peak period, you’ll have to wait until November 8—but not too long after that, because by a week later it’ll already be past peak.

foliage map
Courtesy SmokyMountains.com

Any number of weather conditions can, of course, alter those predictions, including sun, rain and unfortunately fire. Though all of the nearby national forests were closed for much of September due to fire danger, they’re back open again and thankfully—so far—mostly fire-free.

Once we work our way through October, it makes a little more sense to turn from predictions to observations. Natural History Wanderings has a round-up of foliage trackers, including its own weekly reports. And California Fall Color (shout out to its “dude, autumn happens here, too” tagline) logs regular photo updates and even maintains a statewide map that’s updated every Friday.

This story was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with the latest info for the 2021 season.

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