Harvest days are cooler and shorter. Internal clocks are winding down making this the perfect time to retreat.  Autumn leaf peepers should head north to Lake County for a restful and multihued ride. Avoid many miles of Interstate 5 by dialing-in your GPS to tranquil country roads. Meander up Highway 16 to Esparto, through Capay Valley and Cache Creek Canyon – stunning any time of year. Turn left on Highway 20 and follow winding roads to Lake County.

What to do? What to do?
Black, golden and red oaks, dogwoods, cottonwoods, and red maples deliver a colorful display through mid-November. From locals in the know – Cobb Mountain packs a wallop during leaf-peeper season. Vineyards and orchards put on a beautiful show this time of year. The Big Valley of Kelseyville is also recommended. Fall colors are weather dependent, so don’t be disappointed if foliage deities don’t provide. Lake County has plenty of attractions to fill your days.

Rodman Slough County Park offers kayaking and wildlife and nature enthusiasts a surreal adventure. Sensitive wetland areas and oak woodlands shelter a variety of wildlife including great blue heron, great egrets and double-crested cormorants, osprey and grebes. Saturday self-guided walks are available at nearby Rodman Preserve from 9am to noon.

For the strong of heart, hiking Mount Konocti County Park is a must. Opened in 2011, it is Lake County’s largest park. A landscape of mostly dense chaparral and beautiful Canyon Live Oak trees, this dormant ancient volcano provides stunning views from an elevation of 4,300 feet.

Pillow Talk!
Camping isn’t for everyone, but Clear Lake State Park might convert you. RV or tent camping is great for groups and includes ADA accessible facilities including Kelsey Creek Trail’s 1,500-foot boardwalk. Clear Lake fosters stress-reducing and family-friendly recreational opportunities. Hiking, boating, biking, fishing, bird-watching, or relaxing in the shade. Can’t disconnect? There’s Wi-Fi access.

In Upper Lake, the historic Tallman Hotel is beautifully restored and fabulously LEED green. Lodging includes an expanded continental breakfast featuring fresh fruits and homemade granola, jams, and scones. Enjoy fantastic fare, libations, and live blues at Blue Wing Saloon. The Tallman’s state-of-the-art heating systems are delivered from geothermal sources. Learn more about this natural process at The Geysers in Middletown, the largest geothermal power plant in the world.

For something completely different, Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast Resort’s nine caboose guest rooms contain full baths and comfortable featherbeds. Relax and enjoy great outdoor adventures.

Local farms and seasonal farm stands and farmers markets provide fresh fruits and vegetables, farm eggs, goat cheese, and wine! The vineyards are especially pretty during the fall. Sustainably-farmed and 100% organic, Shannon Ridge Mountain Estate Vineyards grow at higher elevations in Clear Lake Oaks. Their wines are available at The Mercantile in Kelseyville.

Restaurants that focus on fresh fare are available countywide. Family-owned and operated, comfort foods, beautiful views, color-draped landscapes, and fresh air all score high on the escape scale. Here are a few favorites: Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso, Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant, Park Place, Saw Shop Gallery Bistro, and Studebakers Café & Deli.

Fun Facts
Clear Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in California, with 63 square miles of surface area, and more than 100 miles of shoreline. Estimated at 2.5 million years old, it is thought to be the oldest lake in North America — and quite possibly the world. Lake County has the cleanest air in California as certified by the State’s Air Resources Board.

For more information, visit:  www.LakeCounty.com

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Barbara Steinberg

Barbara Steinberg is a freelance travel writer and omni-local. Recognized as a California travel authority, she’s been exploring and writing about the Golden State for more than 30 years. She is everywhere you want to be in California – off road and on, urban and rural, 5-star resorts and hidden hot springs, gourmet or dive, but never happier than when she's exploring back roads. Barbara has been a member of California Watchable Wildlife for more than 25 years and serves as their Outreach Coordinator representing the organization at wildlife and nature festivals throughout the state. She graduated cum laude from California State University, Sacramento with a BA in Communications Studies. She is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of California and California Roundtable on Recreation Parks & Tourism and Subaru Ambassador.


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