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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

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 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 had L.A. pegged to cross over from no change to minimal foliage by October 12, now 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 9—but not too long after that, because by a week later it’ll already be past peak.

foliage map

Any number of weather conditions can of course alter those predictions, including sun, rain and unfortunately fire. The Bobcat Fire has burned through thousands of acres and shut down the bulk of Angeles National Forest north of the San Gabriel Valley. And to the east, the El Dorado Fire encroached on apple picking destination Oak Glen.

But thankfully there are plenty of other spots to keep track of, and for that we 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.

The short version as of the middle October: Not much color in the L.A. Basin, but some leaves are nearing their peak by Big Bear, Mount San Gorgonio and Idyllwild.

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