clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Oak Glen is one of Southern California’s best fall destinations.
Shutterstock

Where to find fall colors near Los Angeles

Who says California doesn’t have seasons?

View as Map
Oak Glen is one of Southern California’s best fall destinations.
| Shutterstock

Los Angeles does autumn its own way: The hills turn golden brown. The light changes in subtle ways. The heat is less intense; the winds whip up. It might not be traditional by East Coast standards, but California sycamores, ginkgos, and sweet gum trees, among a few others, turn yellow, orange, and red this time of year.

To find the warm sepia hues that signal the transition from summer to winter, head to botanical gardens and the hills, mountains, deserts, and canyons. Here, 15 reliable locations, all within two hours of Downtown.

See also:

Read More

Sespe Wilderness

Copy Link

North of Ojai, Sespe Wilderness sprawls for 219,468 acres in Los Padres National Forest, a protected canvas of chaparral, wild oats, pine-studded hillsides, and sandstone cliffs. It can be unbearably warm in the summer, but pleasant in the fall, when it becomes a golden-tinged playground for backpacking, day-hiking, horse-back riding, swimming, and wildlife-spotting.

Ice House Canyon

Copy Link

With snow in the winter and a small symphony of fall colors in autumn, the Ice House Canyon trail below Mount Baldy is one of the best places to explore all that each of Southern California’s seasons has to offer. The canyon’s name is a historical reference to the days when ice was carved out of the canyon and carried out on the backs of mules to the valley floor. It’s a steep 3.6 miles hike to the Ice House Saddle, but some of the best fall foliage can be found in the early stretches of the trail, which is lined in maple trees and old cabins.

Colorful autumn leaves on the ground and on trees at Ice House Canyon in California. Jim’s Photos1 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lake Arrowhead

Copy Link

The San Bernardino Mountains are chock full of fall vistas, and there are plenty of hikes to explore and towns to visit for those seeking autumn leaves. If you like your fall colors with a tall lager, however, Lake Arrowhead’s Oktoberfest is one of the biggest around. It runs until October 27.

A white house on a mountain surrounded by trees with colorful autumn leaves in Los Angeles.
Lake Arrowhead.
Getty Images

Mount Wilson Observatory

Copy Link

Hike to the top or simply drive to the summit of Mount Wilson to see stunning views across Angeles National Forest, including sprinklings of yellow and ochre-colored leaves. Then grab a bite at the Cosmic Cafe or climb up to the telescope where Edwin Hubble made many of his most significant observations about the ever-expanding universe.

Descanso Gardens

Copy Link

Located in La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens has plenty of flora to enjoy, including quite a few plants native to California. The gardens are open every day except Christmas between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $9.

Los Angeles County Arboretum

Copy Link

Ah, Los Angeles: where you can enjoy fall colors, peacocks, and the house from Fantasy Island all at the same time. The underrated LA County Arboretum has plenty of fall foliage and costs a bit less than the more well known Huntington Gardens nearby.

Aspen Grove Trail

Copy Link

It’s rare to find quaking aspens in California outside of the Sierra Nevada, and getting to this grove requires a bit of legwork, as detailed here. But as Jeff Hister of SoCal Hiker notes on his blog, witnessing the trees is a magical experience, especially when the leaves turn gold. “The slightest breeze sets these leaves in motion, leading to that ‘quaking’ effect,” he says. “It’s beautiful to see and a delight to the ears.”

Aspen Grove Trail, San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Shutterstock

Mulholland Drive

Copy Link

The backbone of the city snakes 21 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, from Hollywood to Pacific Coast Highway. Wind your way along several miles at sunset and soak in sweeping views of the bronze hills.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Copy Link

While the Huntington Gardens in autumn might not pass for upstate New York, it’s a gorgeous place to see plants and trees you might not associate with the fall months, but nonetheless come into their own throughout the season. These include blooming desert plants and ginkgo trees.

The Japanese garden at the Huntington.
Shutterstock

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Copy Link

This 86-acre garden in Claremont contains around 2,000 different plants native to California. It also happens to be a terrific place to see leaves of all colors during fall months. General admission is $8 per person.

Trees with colorful autumn leaves in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Daily Matador | Flickr creative commons

Malibu Creek State Park

Copy Link

This state park in the Santa Monica Mountains—populated with valley oak trees and sycamores offers plenty of seasonal color—particularly in tree-filled Tapia Park.

An aerial view of Malibu Creek State Park. There are hills and trees with multicolored autumn leaves.
Rolling hills above Malibu Creek.
Getty Images

Oak Glen

Copy Link

Another destination known for its apple orchards, Oak Glen—located east of San Bernardino—is one of the best places in Southern California to see fall colors and do a bit of apple picking while you’re at it. To really get in the fall spirit, hit up Snow-Line Orchard and Winery for mini cider donuts and Wilshire Apple Shed for cider, then walk off the sugar at the Oak Glen Preserve.

In the foreground is grass. In the distance is a house and trees.
Oak Glen.
Shutterstock

Idyllwild

Copy Link

The Riverside County town of Idyllwild and nearby Lake Hemet have some tremendous fall foliage, with cottonwoods that turn bright yellow as the summer season comes to an end. Stop by in late November for the town’s annual Harvest Festival.

Ortega Highway

Copy Link

A drive across the scenic Ortega Highway, which snakes from the Palm Desert to San Juan Capistrano, is a great place to see some fall foliage. As an added bonus, the road is reportedly haunted, making it an appealing Halloween destination as well.

In Julian, you can find the best of both fall foliage and fall produce. Specifically, the town in northern San Diego County is known for its apples—and apple pie. And what’s a cool autumnal day without some good old fashioned apple pie?

Lake Cuyamaca in Julian.
Shutterstock

Loading comments...

Sespe Wilderness

North of Ojai, Sespe Wilderness sprawls for 219,468 acres in Los Padres National Forest, a protected canvas of chaparral, wild oats, pine-studded hillsides, and sandstone cliffs. It can be unbearably warm in the summer, but pleasant in the fall, when it becomes a golden-tinged playground for backpacking, day-hiking, horse-back riding, swimming, and wildlife-spotting.

Ice House Canyon

Colorful autumn leaves on the ground and on trees at Ice House Canyon in California. Jim’s Photos1 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

With snow in the winter and a small symphony of fall colors in autumn, the Ice House Canyon trail below Mount Baldy is one of the best places to explore all that each of Southern California’s seasons has to offer. The canyon’s name is a historical reference to the days when ice was carved out of the canyon and carried out on the backs of mules to the valley floor. It’s a steep 3.6 miles hike to the Ice House Saddle, but some of the best fall foliage can be found in the early stretches of the trail, which is lined in maple trees and old cabins.

Colorful autumn leaves on the ground and on trees at Ice House Canyon in California. Jim’s Photos1 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lake Arrowhead

A white house on a mountain surrounded by trees with colorful autumn leaves in Los Angeles.
Lake Arrowhead.
Getty Images

The San Bernardino Mountains are chock full of fall vistas, and there are plenty of hikes to explore and towns to visit for those seeking autumn leaves. If you like your fall colors with a tall lager, however, Lake Arrowhead’s Oktoberfest is one of the biggest around. It runs until October 27.

A white house on a mountain surrounded by trees with colorful autumn leaves in Los Angeles.
Lake Arrowhead.
Getty Images

Mount Wilson Observatory

Hike to the top or simply drive to the summit of Mount Wilson to see stunning views across Angeles National Forest, including sprinklings of yellow and ochre-colored leaves. Then grab a bite at the Cosmic Cafe or climb up to the telescope where Edwin Hubble made many of his most significant observations about the ever-expanding universe.

Descanso Gardens

Located in La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens has plenty of flora to enjoy, including quite a few plants native to California. The gardens are open every day except Christmas between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $9.

Los Angeles County Arboretum

Ah, Los Angeles: where you can enjoy fall colors, peacocks, and the house from Fantasy Island all at the same time. The underrated LA County Arboretum has plenty of fall foliage and costs a bit less than the more well known Huntington Gardens nearby.

Aspen Grove Trail

Aspen Grove Trail, San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Shutterstock

It’s rare to find quaking aspens in California outside of the Sierra Nevada, and getting to this grove requires a bit of legwork, as detailed here. But as Jeff Hister of SoCal Hiker notes on his blog, witnessing the trees is a magical experience, especially when the leaves turn gold. “The slightest breeze sets these leaves in motion, leading to that ‘quaking’ effect,” he says. “It’s beautiful to see and a delight to the ears.”

Aspen Grove Trail, San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Shutterstock

Mulholland Drive

The backbone of the city snakes 21 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, from Hollywood to Pacific Coast Highway. Wind your way along several miles at sunset and soak in sweeping views of the bronze hills.

The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

The Japanese garden at the Huntington.
Shutterstock

While the Huntington Gardens in autumn might not pass for upstate New York, it’s a gorgeous place to see plants and trees you might not associate with the fall months, but nonetheless come into their own throughout the season. These include blooming desert plants and ginkgo trees.

The Japanese garden at the Huntington.
Shutterstock

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Trees with colorful autumn leaves in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Daily Matador | Flickr creative commons

This 86-acre garden in Claremont contains around 2,000 different plants native to California. It also happens to be a terrific place to see leaves of all colors during fall months. General admission is $8 per person.

Trees with colorful autumn leaves in Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Daily Matador | Flickr creative commons

Malibu Creek State Park

An aerial view of Malibu Creek State Park. There are hills and trees with multicolored autumn leaves.
Rolling hills above Malibu Creek.
Getty Images

This state park in the Santa Monica Mountains—populated with valley oak trees and sycamores offers plenty of seasonal color—particularly in tree-filled Tapia Park.

An aerial view of Malibu Creek State Park. There are hills and trees with multicolored autumn leaves.
Rolling hills above Malibu Creek.
Getty Images

Oak Glen

In the foreground is grass. In the distance is a house and trees.
Oak Glen.
Shutterstock

Another destination known for its apple orchards, Oak Glen—located east of San Bernardino—is one of the best places in Southern California to see fall colors and do a bit of apple picking while you’re at it. To really get in the fall spirit, hit up Snow-Line Orchard and Winery for mini cider donuts and Wilshire Apple Shed for cider, then walk off the sugar at the Oak Glen Preserve.

In the foreground is grass. In the distance is a house and trees.
Oak Glen.
Shutterstock

Idyllwild

The Riverside County town of Idyllwild and nearby Lake Hemet have some tremendous fall foliage, with cottonwoods that turn bright yellow as the summer season comes to an end. Stop by in late November for the town’s annual Harvest Festival.

Ortega Highway

A drive across the scenic Ortega Highway, which snakes from the Palm Desert to San Juan Capistrano, is a great place to see some fall foliage. As an added bonus, the road is reportedly haunted, making it an appealing Halloween destination as well.

Julian

Lake Cuyamaca in Julian.
Shutterstock

In Julian, you can find the best of both fall foliage and fall produce. Specifically, the town in northern San Diego County is known for its apples—and apple pie. And what’s a cool autumnal day without some good old fashioned apple pie?

Lake Cuyamaca in Julian.
Shutterstock