Trip Ideas

bright red maple in downtown Nevada City showcasing the fall colors

Top 5 Hiking & Fall Photoshoot Locations In Nevada County

Grab your camera. Embrace the cool, fresh air. And embark on a photographic adventure to immortalize the timeless autumn beauty that Nevada County offers.

Tips & Resources

Tranquil meadows and incredible views of huge cliffs carved by mighty jets of water from the Gold Rush – Malakoff Diggins is a hidden gem for fall leaf peeping

For ways to appreciate Truckee’s fall canvas of color, read Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s blog about the best fall activities

If you’re taking photos or video for commercial use in state parks, you are required to obtain a film permit from the California Film Commission

By Kial James

As the days grow shorter and a mild fog hangs in the early morning air, Nevada County undergoes a dramatic transformation. It’s adorned with beautiful fall colors. The fall season showcases an artist’s palette. A range of reds, oranges, and gold. Helping it transform the region into a photographer’s paradise for fall photoshoot locations. If you love photography, you won’t want to miss it. Here’s some of the most unique spots to capture the highlights of fall in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. This beauty is visible throughout the month of October and into November.

49 Crossing and Bridgeport Covered Bridge

South Yuba River State Park is renowned for its scenic beauty. And with the arrival of fall, it reaches new heights. One of the most spectacular places to photograph in the fall is the ’49 Crossing.’ Where a historic concrete bridge spans the South Yuba River adorned with autumn-decorated trees. A short hike upriver to Hoyt’s Crossing from the old bridge reveals spectacular colors, including teals, blues, and greens along the river offset by tones of gold and yellow. The vintage beauty of the old Highway 49 Bridge, an open-spandrel concrete deck arch bridge spanning nearly 130 feet, is the perfect setting for your fall photos. The lovely autumn foliage reflects beautifully in the crystal-clear waters of the river, creating a picturesque image of the season’s splendor.

Another Option In South Yuba River State Park

South Yuba River State Park and the historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge with fall colors
Image taken by: Kial James

Just a short drive away, the historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge is a photographer’s haven in the fall. Park trails wind through dense forests of oak, buckeye, ceanothus, and redbud, all adorned with vibrant, seasonal foliage. The river reflects the surrounding autumn colors, providing a beautiful backdrop for fall photoshoot locations.

Empire Mine State Historic Park

The mansion at Empire Mine State Historic Park during the fall
Image taken by: Kial James

Located in Grass Valley, Empire Mine SHP is not only a historically significant site but also a photographer’s delight. With the arrival of autumn, the garden’s deciduous trees undergo a dramatic transformation, revealing the beauty of fall. Stroll through the park grounds, explore the remains of beautifully preserved buildings, and capture the highlights of the gold-rush era. The Bourne Mansion, designed by the famous San Francisco architect Willis Polk, stands as the highlight. With its expansive lawns, large water features, and delightful gardens, the well-preserved mansion serves as an incredible backdrop with historic beauty and charm.

Downtown Nevada City

fall foliage in downtown Nevada City California
Image taken by: Kial James

Downtown Nevada City, with its antique charm and tree-lined streets, provides a beautiful backdrop for capturing the spirit of fall. Take a leisurely stroll through the charming downtown and sidestep into streets bursting with even more colorful abundance. Take in the autumn glow surrounded by Victorian-style homes, quaint boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and galleries. The city’s autumn colors are highly anticipated, with the peak occurring around October 31. The Nevada City Fall Color Map offers plenty of locations to immortalize the season’s beauty.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

tree lined streets of the North Bloomfield Ghost Town inside Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park showcasing the fall colors
The treelined streets of the ghost town of North Bloomfield – Image taken by: Kial James

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is steeped in gold rush history. As fall approaches, the park transforms into a photographic escape. Filled with tranquil meadows and incredible views of huge cliffs carved by mighty jets of water from the Gold Rush era in their dramatic search for gold. Enjoy over 20 miles of well-maintained walking and hiking trails, along with the vibrantly colored tree-lined streets of the old townsite of North Bloomfield.

The Truckee River

The Truckee River meanders through scenic downtown Truckee. What you get is an ideal setting for beautiful fall photoshoot locations. An opportunity for photography with historic old buildings and cabins as a backdrop. The fall trees burst with bright shades of autumn yellow and gold, adorning the riverbanks and exuding autumn majesty. Capture these vibrant trees reflected in the still waters of the Truckee River to create the best possible image of the season. The riverbanks, adorned with their breathtaking trees, create a visual spectacle perfect for photography. The contrast between the clear waters of the river and the fiery foliage on the banks provides a stunning natural backdrop for your fall photographs. For more ways to appreciate fall’s canvas of color, read Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s blog about the best fall activities.

Tips for the Perfect Fall Photo:

  • Golden Hours: Make the most of the soft, warm light during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset to infuse your photos with dramatic light.
  • Still Shots: Use a tripod to ensure your images are sharp and detailed, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Wide Horizons: Employ a wide angle lens to capture the most beautiful autumn scenes.
  • Find and Fine Details: Don’t overlook fall’s little surprises, like tender leaves, acorns, and dewdrops. They epitomize the complexity of autumn’s allure.
  • Prepare for the Weather: Prepare yourself for unpredictable fall weather in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Ensure your belongings are properly packed to protect them from the elements and consider layering up for warmth and comfort.

Nevada County experiences a wonderful fall season, providing the perfect canvas for an artist’s dreams. From amateur enthusiasts to seasoned professionals, these locations offer an ideal backdrop for your autumn photography getaway. So, grab your camera. Embrace the cool, fresh air. And embark on a photographic adventure to immortalize the timeless autumn beauty that Nevada County offers.

Kial James Bio photo

Kial James

Kial James is a multifaceted artist, author, and celebrated photographer based in Northern California's captivating foothills whose work has graced prestigious publications and earned recognition in both the digital and print realms, capturing the essence of his picturesque home and beyond.

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