Fall Foliage Family Fun

Yet another reason SoCal is the absolute best place to live.  We’re much more than palm trees and 75 degree winters.  Contrary to popular belief, we do have four seasons ’round here.  You just have to be willing to drive a bit to experience them.  A picturesque drive into the San Bernardino Mountains will give you a taste of autumn.  No, not quite the spectacular reds and oranges of New England, but there’s definitely some very beautiful scenery to be found.

My BBQ Honey grew up with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop to her hometown of Santa Fe, NM.  Every fall, the Aspens would set the mountainside afire with a yellow hue.  The only color on the mountains where I grew up in San Diego came from actual fire (as in wildfires).  We’ve enjoyed our mountains for summer hikes away from the valley heat and for winter snowplay.  It took just a bit of cyber effort to find fall foliage in my neck of the woods.  Natural fall foliage, not the carefully manicured landscapes of gated communities.

Enter the Aspen Grove Trail.  From Redlands, take the 38 through town and up into the mountains.  When you get to Angelus Oaks, look for the restaurant/general store on the left (you can’t miss it, there’s really not a whole lot more to Angelus Oaks) and make a note of your mileage.  In about 13.5 miles you’ll turn right at this sign:

This easy-to-miss forest service road is nicely paved.  For about a 1/2 mile.  But the dirt road is fairly well maintained.  Until you get to a fork in the road with this sign:

Turn right at this fork (toward Fish Creek) and you’ll find a road that is definitely not maintained.  It is to’e up from the flo’ up, a gnarled mess of rocks and dips!  Low clearance vehicles probably wouldn’t do well here.  The drive from this point to the trailhead parking lot is just over a mile but it took us more than ten minutes to get there.  But if you’re willing to go through all this trouble, you will be rewarded!  The Aspen Grove is an easy ten minute hike from the trailhead, with autumn yellows all along the way.  We definitely missed their peak, as most of the leaves had fallen from the Aspens.  But the distinctive white barked trees set amidst the massive towering pines is really an awesome sight.  How did an Aspen grove survive in this one little spot?  I guess the answer is simple.  God wanted them there.

The trail follows the Santa Ana River, which has quite the autumn display along its banks.

There's one little creek crossing that ushers you into the Aspen grove. There was still a bit of color to enjoy, but just imagine how stunning it must be at peak!

Crossing the creek wasn't exactly life threatening.

We followed the trail well passed the Aspens and found plenty of fall foliage!

Back down the mountain, we stopped for an old long-lost tradition.  Way back in the day, we’d take the teens to an A&W in Mentone to conclude winter retreat.  After spending a sleepless night on the freezing mountain, root beer floats and freezes just seemed the natural course.  I think we’ll be renewing this tradition as a family.

Good times….


4 comments so far

  1. Becka on

    How fun! And pretty. I must admit I was a bit skeptical when you said you had found some actually fall color. 🙂 Just goes to show that miracles to happen. 🙂

  2. jenmarie on

    Awww fun. Hey, don’t hate on our fall foliage, Beck 😉 The leaves change colors right on White Avenue so…there! 😉

    Yay Fall! =)

  3. Becka on

    I’m not hatin’. 😀 Just exposing the truth, sad truth that it is. I love SoCal, but let’s just face it. It is a little lacking in fall foilage. Not devoid of it, just lacking. lol

  4. mct88 on

    I miss the fall weather in SC. Everything is absolutely beautiful.

    I must say I miss those weekend winter trips where everyone who tries to stay awake acts cuckoo…

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