Trip Ideas

fall colors on a side street in Nevada City California Nevada County

Best Fall Colors In California?

Hiking trails are framed with the gold and amber hues of oak and elm trees while the historic landscapes of Nevada City and Grass Valley are afire with intense maple reds. Read why you should visit Nevada County this fall and learn where to take in all of Mother Nature's beauty.

Tips & Resources

Download the fall foliage map for Grass Valley & Nevada City here.

Visit Truckee-Tahoe offers a full guide on how to experience fall at its brightest.

Follow and Truckee’s daily fall color report to get real time fall colors information so you can visit when the colors are best.


By Alex Silgalis

Nevada County is beautiful year-round, but autumn is just breathtaking. Compared by many to the foliage on the east coast, our towns, highways, and byways boast views around every corner that rival anything you’ll find in Maine… and why we think we’re home to some of the best fall colors in California. 

Don’t Take It From Us

We’re not the only ones crooning about our fall foliage either. AAA’s official travel magazine VIA published an article titled Fall Weekend in Gold Country, Grass Valley, California showcasing everything about this time of year. It highlights the beautiful fall foliage found in the town, along with other activities and dining suggestions. Also, Fox 40 News in Sacramento did a segment on Where to Find the Best Fall Foliage and highlighted Nevada City as one of the best places to do so in the region.

Why Go?

Besides the many accolades fall provides, it’s the opportune time to visit if you’re a responsible traveler. You don’t have to worry about traffic and parking in the historic downtowns of Truckee, Grass Valley, or Nevada City. Popular trails are now peaceful strolls that Henry David Thoreau would savor. Framed with the gold and amber hues of oak and elm trees while the historic landscapes of Nevada City and Grass Valley are afire with intense maple reds. A perfect chance for you to go forest bathing. And for those budget conscious travelers, many of the lodging partners provide great deals for this time of year as well. This is only but a sampling of why you should visit Nevada County in the fall.

Perfect Weather

The best part about fall is how perfect the weather is for outdoor fun. Normally when you think of September, October, or even November, it’s all about cold rainy days. Not here in Nevada County. The summer’s heat is gone. The sun is still shining, and evenings are cool, but the days are still warm. It can be argued that the weather is the best season for outdoor activities. Go hiking in the morning, head out for a bike ride over one of the passes in the afternoon, and finish it off with a wine tour

Where To Start

How do you best enjoy the most beautiful season in Nevada County? Here’s four ideas to get you started:

1. Take The Self-Guided Fall Colors Tour

a bright red maple tree in the fall with Victorian home in the background on main street in Nevada City
Image appears courtesy: © Photo Nevada City Chamber

Nevada County has some of the most breathtaking fall foliage on the west coast. Take the Nevada City and Grass Valley Fall Colors Tour while enjoying all of the great things our towns have to offer. Pick up a to-go picnic at one of our local restaurants or farmers markets, find a good spot, and enjoy the splendor of autumn. You can download fall foliage map here.

2. Take a Hike

a man and woman on Deer Creek Suspension Bridge in Nevada City during the fall
Photo by: Allison Denton

Hiking is always a popular activity in Nevada County, but in the autumn with the leaves turning, it is just breathtaking. One great trail to appreciate the colorful foliage is the Deer Creek Tribute Trail, which you can catch right in Downtown Nevada City (but really, any hiking trail you choose is spectacular). Another upside is that you can stop for a cocktail at Golden Era or a coffee or hot chocolate at Java John’s after your hike and talk about what an amazing adventure you had.

3. Take a Drive

tree lined side street with colorful maples and oaks winding through Nevada City
Image appears courtesy: © Photo Nevada City Chamber – Photographer Faye White

Once upon a time, families would pile into their cars and take Sunday drives. What better time to revive this classic American tradition. Meander through the Victorian neighborhoods stemming from the historical hamlets near and around Pioneer and Memorial Parks. The Truckee River and Martis Valley also come alive with deep oranges, yellows, and reds – you can pass through Martis Valley to get to the popular picturesque shack encompassed with aspens on Highway 267.

4. Visit a Pumpkin Patch

girl within a giant field at Bierwagens Pumpkin Patch filled with ripe pumpkins
Pick a Pumpkin at Bierwagen’s Pumpkin Patch. Photo by Valerie Costa

Bierwagen’s Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Festival is always a family favorite. The Bierwagen Family Farm has been in existence since 1902 and has been family-owned and operated for more than a century. The pumpkin patch has been going for the last 25 years and has become a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Be sure to have some of their homemade cider, take a wagon ride, and get yourself a pumpkin. Admission is free and the pumpkin patch is open every day in October except Mondays.

When To Go For Fall Colors

fall colors on a side street in Nevada City California Nevada County
Image taken by: Kial James

Just like any natural phenomenon, timing is essential. Fall color in the High Sierra surrounding Truckee arrives around the middle of September and peaks through October. Then from mid-October through much of November, vibrant maples, oaks, and liquidambars adorn the Sierra Foothills of western Nevada County. Local colors are best in the Victorian neighborhoods surrounding the historic downtown areas. Cooler weather and the changing colors of the landscape make a fall visit to a state park a memorable experience. Grass Valley is especially pretty from higher vista points. Nevada City colors are centered in a smaller area and may be more easily enjoyed by foot or bicycle.

Monitor Progression

To make sure you hit the fall foliage at its peak, we recommend you begin to monitor the progression of fall colors from the beginning of September onwards that provide updated reports for our area. Experienced fall foliage guests follow and Truckee’s daily fall color report which give you real time fall colors information so you can visit when the colors are best.

Among the most popular sites are:


In addition to the fall colors, it’s an ideal time to escape the doldrums of daily life. The calendar is filled with fun fall festivals and events along with the best time of year to go fly fishing.

  • Martis Valley
  • Truckee River Legacy Trail
  • Donner Memorial State Park
  • Emigrant Trail
  • Pacific Crest Trail
  • Donner Rim Trail

Nevada City

  • Nevada Street
  • Highway 20 to 49
  • Buckeye Hill
  • Park Avenue
  • Aristocracy Hill

Grass Valley

  • Neal Street
  • Empire Mine State Historic Park
  • Memorial Park
  • Butler Avenue
  • Golden Center Freeway

Hidden Gems

From Pumpkin patches to Mother Nature’s fireworks along with pleasant temps, it’s more than enough reason to head to Nevada County this fall.


Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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