Where to see fall colors on Highway 89
It’s that magical time of year along CA89 when the seasons start turning, and the vegetation changes colors. Fall is one of the best times to explore Highway 89 because the summer crowds have retreated, towns and trails are quiet, and the leaves boast a brilliant display of orange and gold. If leaf peeping is part of your fall to-do list, you won’t want to miss these four fantastic spots along our favorite highway.
- Sagehen Creek Trail
Looking for an active way to see the golden Aspens? Try hiking Sagehen Creek! Sagehen Creek is a 6-mile out and back trail located near Truckee. This trail is great for families and features a beautiful creek and reservoir at the end. You can see fall colors throughout the hike, but especially near the beginning by the creek and near the end heading towards Stampede Reservoir.
- Length: 6 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 246 ft.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trail Type: Out and Back
- Paige Meadows
Just south of Tahoe City, you will find Paige Meadows, which is spotted with aspens and covered by crisscrossing trails. The area puts out one of the best displays of “Tahoe Gold,” and the volume of trails allows you to choose a hike of nearly any length. One of our favorite paths is the Tahoe Rim Trail and Paige Meadows Loop, which is an easy to moderate 5 miles.
- Length: 5.1 Miles
- Elevation Gain: 551 ft.
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trail Type: Loop
- Taylor Creek Visitor Center
Taylor Creek Visitor Center is located approximately two miles north of South Lake Tahoe on Highway 89. Taylor Creek is a great place to see the changing colors and to watch the Salmon spawning in the fall.
From the visitor’s center, we suggest taking Rainbow Trail, which is lined with golden aspens and has platforms for you to view the migrating salmon. Another great trail is Lake of the Sky, which leads down to Kiva beach and has views of Mt Tallac.
- Hope Valley
Driving roughly 20 minutes south of South Lake Tahoe, where highways 88 and 89 meet, you will find the beautiful Hope Valley. Hope Valley sits at 7,000 feet on the eastern side of Carson Pass. The valley is a favorite destination for fly fishermen, artists, photographers, and hikers.
Although beautiful year-round, Hope Valley is most famous for its fall colors. Every fall around late-September Hope Valley comes alive with vibrant colors of yellow and orange set against the dark green of the surrounding forest trees.
Which leaf-peeping spot is on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments!