Take A Beautiful Fall Foliage Road Trip To See Northern California Autumn Colors

Northern California has a reputation as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States, and it truly comes alive in the fall. Cooler weather, harvest time, and fall scenery in our neck of the woods is as pretty as a picture. There’s no better way to experience the best fall foliage in Northern California than a drive through the mountains, towards the border of Oregan and California and back down along cascading rivers and tree-studded national forests.

We’ve made a nine-hour road trip (!!!) that will take you along some of the most beautiful roadways in Northern California, making it easy to see the foliage and scenic views of autumn. Of course, at nine hours, we’d recommend that you break up this trip into a couple of days, instead of making it one big, long trek. It would be beautiful, but yes, sometimes even beauty is overwhelming. Take the trip that works for you, there’s no better way to see autumn in the Golden State than on this Shasta-Cascades road trip.

Click here for a customizable itinerary through the region, and get ready to indulge in a trip that shows off the best fall foliage in Northern California.

During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.


Have you ever driven the Shasta – Cascade loop in the fall? If so, what did you think of the changing colors and mountain scenery that truly shows off the best fall foliage in Northern California? For more Northern California travel ideas, check out Only in Northern California’s complete list of articles.

The OIYS Visitor Center

Best Fall Foliage In Northern California

August 24, 2019

What is the best time to see peak fall foliage in Northern California?

In Northern California, roughly at 10,000 feet, autumnal colors will tend to peak in late September. At lower elevations, the colors will stay vibrant through mid to late October.

Where are the best places in Northern California to see fall foliage?

The state is iconic for its natural beauty, but Northern California has the fall foliage aspect of the state down pat. Head to the Shasta Cascades or Plumas County, Bishop Creek Canyon or Lake County for the best views. Leaf peeping in the 16-mile June Lake Loop in Mono County offers up colorful views amongst the mountains, and the vineyards of Napa offers some gorgeous views, as well.

What are the best Northern California hikes to take in the fall?

The entire state is crisscrossed with epic hiking experiences, but the fall foliage hikes of Northern California take the cake. The Lake Lagunitas hike in Marin is fairly short, close to the Bay Area and offers stunning, waterside views. The hikes through Sunol Regional Wilderness offers incredible views, as does the hike to Burney Falls. Any state park in Northern California boasts a myriad of opportunities, so make sure to head up in late September to mid-October for the best chance to see the colors!