Leaf Report September 2017

It’s funny, a couple weeks ago all the locals were commenting about how early we were seeing yellow this year. Fast forward a couple weeks and we still haven’t seen peak everywhere. This weekend into next weekend will be the peak of fall color this year. Some places are at peak currently and some are just starting to turn. Here’s a rundown of our favorite locations and how things are progressing as of the morning of September 21, 2017. Happy fall y’all!

Ohio Pass

Not Peak
I would say I’m as surprised as most folks to find that Ohio Pass hasn’t quite hit peak yet. In fact I would put the color change somewhere around 50% as of this morning. Many large stands were still emerald green, although I did find enough color to take some beautiful pictures of The Castles. In the pictures below you can see that there are some good pockets of color, but that some places, like the Beaver Ponds Trailhead are still mostly green.

ohio pass road crested butte gunnison fall colors
beaver ponds trailhead ohio pass in the fall
morning light on ohio pass road gunnison crested butte

West Elk Wilderness

Peak
While looking out across Ohio Pass and wondering why things hadn’t changed dramatically yet, I could see the entire eastern side of the West Elk Wilderness and it looked beautiful. Lots of yellow contrasting with the dark green Engellman Spruce. If you’re headed out for an extended backcountry excursion this would be my first choice. Make sure you’re wearing your blaze orange though. Hunting season is in swing and while it’s still archery season for deer and elk this weekend, it’s rifle season for black bears and many small game targets.

You can check out the 2017 Big Game dates here.

The photo below is of The Castles from Ohio Pass.

the castles in the fall gunnison crested butte

Kebler Pass

Not Peak
I had another big surprise this morning when I drove to Horseranch Park expecting a full display under the Beckwiths and the Ruby Range. While there’s certainly some color popping through, The Dyke side of Kebler was still very much green over large swaths of forest. It’s changing quick, but my bet is that next weekend is peak for Colorado’s largest aspen grove.

In the pictures below you can see 1) A lone stand of aspens in full color in front of sea of green 2) The Dyke and Ruby Mountain from near the top of the pass 3) Another shot of the Ruby Anthracite valley that’s still pretty green.

a lone stand of aspens changing color on kebler pass
the dyke and ruby mountain from kebler pass road
ruby anthracite valley from kebler pass road

Mt. Crested Butte and the Upper Loop

Some Areas Peak Others Not Peak
The amount of color in Mt. Crested Butte and on the resort depends on the aspect that you’re on. While much of the base area, Painter Boy ridge, and Westside are in full glory, the Upper Loop, Whetstone Vista, and Upper Upper are still just starting to change. The green is starting to take on a yellow tinge, and with yesterday’s color progression I believe the entire mountain will change color this weekend or early next week. Below is a picture from yesterday evening of the Upper Loop side of Mt. Crested Butte.

mt crested butte fall colors
Peak
Get it while the gettins’ good. Teocalli Ridge, Strand Hill and much of Deer Creek looked like perfection this morning on the drive up. If you’re looking for a great place for a day hike, mountain bike ride, or leef-peeping jeep tour this will be the place to be this weekend. While it may be older than today, this photo is a good representation of the current color status of Brush Creek.

view from near the summit of teocalli mountain

Cement Creek

Peak– Maybe Past
While I haven’t gotten all the way up Cement Creek, I have it on two good authorities that the upper section is absolutely stunning. With some of the windy afternoons we’ve had this week we’re starting to see trees stripped by the wind. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go enjoy it. From what I’ve heard Reno/Flag/Bear/Reno Ridge/Deadman’s is primed and pretty right now.

peak color in upper cement creek crested butte

This weekend’s weather is supposed to take another dramatic turn towards fall. Highs in the mid-50s and the prediction of rain might speed the color change up quite a bit. Anytime there’s the prediction of rain this time of year, it’s almost guaranteed to snow up high as well. If you want those picturesque shots of the snow and aspens, this will probably be your weekend.

Hopefully we’ll see you out for some leaf-peeping, and remember, it doesn’t last long!

Author: Daniel Kreykes

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