Fall Road Trips

Head out on the highway, looking for adventure.

FALL IS THE TIME TO EXPLORE THE Sierra and surrounding foothills — exploring fall foliage in all its glory. The open road, in your car, convertible, RV or motorcycle, is the best way to experience it.

The journeys feature beautiful and historic places, including the shores of Lake Tahoe on Hwy. 89, Donner Summit on Old Hwy. 40, and Gold Rush towns and wine tasting on Hwy. 49.

Highway 20, dotted with campgrounds, picnic spots and sweeping views of the Sierra Buttes, is practically your own private route to the Sierra from the foothill towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Auburn, with its award-winning restaurants, farm stands, brewpubs, shops and surrounding wineries, is becoming a destination between Tahoe and the Bay Area along Interstate 80.

The Colfax Hwy., or State Route 174, offers wine tasting, farm stands and roadside dining (try the fresh apple pie at the Happy Apple Kitchen). The Colfax Hwy. is an easy detour off I-80, whether you’re traveling from Reno or Sacramento. Amtrak’s California Zephyr train stops at historic Colfax.

The Placer County Wine Trail and Sierra Vintners offer wine tours where you can taste among the barrels and meet the winemakers.

Road trips centered around local farms go back to the days of the 49er Fruit Trail along the Colfax Highway. Fruit ranchers sold cherries, peaches, figs, apples and vegetables from their farm stands. Their homemade pies became popular too.

Some of the area’s longtime family farms include Machado Orchards in Auburn (whose family has owned the farmland since the ‘20s) and Bierwagen’s Donner Fruit Trail in Chicago Park. Ikedas in Auburn was opened in 1970. The roadside “mom and pops” remain popular with travelers to this day.

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