Feast your eyes on fall in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Feast your eyes on fall in Nevada County

Anneles Linklater, 4 years old from New Zealand, plays in colored leaves that fell on Nevada Street in Nevada City.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union
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The bloom of resplendent red, yellow and faltering green has fully arrived in western Nevada County, California, eliciting gratitude in locals and hope among business owners that the natural beauty will attract a throng of spendthrift tourists.

“The fall colors in western Nevada County rival that of the East Coast, where people traditionally travel to this season,” said Susan George, president of the Regional Chambers of Commerce of Nevada County. “This tends to be a shoulder season, so it makes sense to use the fall colors to attract tourists.”

Erin Thiem, who runs the Outside Inn, told The Union she has received a lot of web traffic on her fall colors blog and related social media posts.

“Around downtown Nevada City is pretty stunning right now,” Thiem said.

Cathy Whittlesey, executive director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said a walking tour pamphlet that highlights the best fall colors in Grass Valley and Nevada City has been popular with visitors.

“We had a lot of people in this last week and, it’s all about the fall colors,” Whittlesey said, adding she is partial to the Nevada Street area.

“There is one absolutely beautiful tree on South Pine Street,” she said. “It’s always just a gorgeous red.”

Nevada City’s autumnal splendor is largely due to early pioneers who brought some of their favorite trees from the Eastern deciduous forests and cultivated those trees, said Zeno Acton, a local arborist.

“It’s a good thing, because those trees tend to do better in garden conditions,” Acton said. “They are much better in lawns as they are used to regular water.”

The silver, sugar and red maples that spangle color in the urban canopy of Grass Valley and Nevada City join red oaks and other native trees, such as Fremont cottonwoods, mountain ash and Western dogwoods to create a colorful palette. The native oaks, whether the black, blue or valley varieties, do not bloom with the incandescence of their counterparts from the East, Acton said, although some of them will display shades of yellow and/or red.

Acton concedes he promotes plants native to the Sierra Foothills but also enjoys the many varietals of trees that the urban areas of the county offer.

“I am pretty proud of my town and that we maintain all of our heritage broad-leaf deciduous trees,” he said.

“I think it is beautiful. To me, the diversity is interesting.”

While George said the historic towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City offer picturesque presentations of autumn, with Victorian mansions and church steeples framed by colorful trees, the countryside is beautiful, as well.

In the higher elevation portions of the county, the aspen are turning a brilliant yellow, almost gold, which makes for astonishing viewing, she said.

Also, mountain ash will turn a bright topaz as autumn proceeds, Acton said.

“Mountain ash deserves to be planted more often,” he said, adding the cottonwoods in the river canyon flank the emerald Yuba River, making for a worthwhile hike along the river’s banks.

Those who want a good luck on the colorful transformation of the Western dogwood are encouraged to stroll the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, Acton said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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