“A Walk Through Autumn” in the foothills and Sierra

Our region is one of the best places in California to view fall foliage, earning it the name “New England of the West.” Here are some suggestions:

HISTORIC HIGHWAY 40
Weather permitting, take an old-fashioned Sunday drive along Old Hwy. 40 from Rocklin to Donner Pass and Truckee instead of Interstate 80. The fall colors are spectacular.

“You will see the parade of rich history that formed California: the path of the Native American petroglyphs and grinding stones; the trails of wagon trains; the bed of the first transcontinental highway,” according to ExploreDonnerSummit.com.

NEVADA CITY & GRASS VALLEY FALL COLORS
Experience the brilliance of fall foliage walking or driving the historic streets of Nevada City and Grass Valley. Mid-October through much of November each year—vibrant maples, oaks and liquid ambers adorn the foothills of western Nevada County. Grass Valley is attractive from higher vista points. Nevada City colors are centered in a smaller area and enjoyed by foot or bicycle.

ASPENS IN HOPE VALLEY
Along historic Highway 88, the route of pioneers such as John Fremont and Kit Carson, Hope Valley near Lake Tahoe comes alive with vibrant aspen colors of yellow, orange and red. The area hosts an Alpine Aspen Festival on October 8-9. It also is home to Sorensen’s Resort, owned by John and Patty Brissenden.

From South Lake Tahoe, take Highway 50 toward Echo Summit about 5 miles. Turn left at Highway 89 south and continue over Luther Pass to Pickett’s Junction about 10 miles. SorensensResort.com

FOOD AND WINE ON COLFAX HIGHWAY
The Colfax Hwy. or SR 174—a “road less traveled” but convenient nonetheless—offers fall colors along with farm stands, pumpkin patches, and the “Wine 174” wine trail.

The Colfax Hwy. is an easy detour off I-80, whether you’re traveling from Reno or Sacramento. This roadtrip harkens back to the days of the 49er Fruit Trail, where ranchers sold cherries, peaches, figs, apples and vegetables from their farm stands. Wine174.com

VIRTUAL REALITY TOUR OF YOSEMITE
For homebodies, a first-ever virtual reality experience with a sitting President provides an up close look at Obama’s trip to Yosemite with his family this summer. In “Through the Ages,” you’ll explore every angle of the breathtaking surroundings of Yosemite, including El Capitan, the Cathedral Rocks, Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Falls. Oculus.com

Roadtrip! Trans, Planes & Autos

In the 1980s comedy “Trains, Planes & Automobiles,” Steve Martin and John Candy play business travelers trying to get home during the crush of Thanksgiving travel. Fall travel in our region is more enjoyable. Here are some examples:

Amtrak’s California Zephyr: The California Zephyr is one of America’s most beautiful train trips and perfect for viewing fall foliage. In the Sierra heading west, the train climbs Donner Summit, with stops in Truckee and Colfax. From Colfax, you can ride your bike along Hwy. 174, which is home to the “Wine 174” wine trail. Amtrak.com, Wine174.com

Drive an electric car to a vineyard: More electric vehicles are on the road, with Northern California ranked as the top EV region. Tesla Motors has strategically located “Superchargers” on I-80, including in Truckee. Andis Wines has its own EV charging station. Grass Valley Courtyard Suites has EV charging stations for guests whose outings include Sierra Vintners wineries. Tesla.com, AndisWines.com, GVCourtyardSuites.com

An RV trip: RV ownership has increased almost 60 percent since 1980. RVers can camp at over 16,000 public and private places in America. In the Sierra, Donner Memorial State Park is a favorite for fall. It has a new Visitor Center that features exhibits such as “Land of the Washoe.” Fine art photography by Elizabeth Carmel is featured in the museum. parks.ca.gov

Glider rides: “Why go out for a little fresh air when you can have the whole sky?” Soaring NV offers glider rides in the Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe—offering a bird’s eye view of fall foliage. An airplane tows the glider aloft. At the desired altitude, the glider pilot releases the towline and begins to glide. A wing-mounted video captures your experience. SoaringNV.com

A DELUXE ROADTRIP
A Prevost Motor Coach is top of the line when it comes to luxury motor coaches. Willie Nelson’s is called “Honeysuckle Rose IV” while “Ground Force One” is used to transport the President of the United States. We found a local Prevost Coach for sale that includes crystal chandeliers, a Gaggenau cooktop, a built-in Jenn-Air blender, wine rack, washer/dryer and three TVs. The list price is $114,999. PrevostMotorCoachforsale.com

Gold Country Vintage Road

Gold Country Vintage Road, a scenic loop designed with vintage shoppers in mind, is being launched in the foothills. GoldCountryVintageRoad.com

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