October 13, 2015 by Joe Kukura

Wine country temperatures may cool down in autumn, but the region becomes a hotspot for the myriad colors of its fall foliage. One of wine country’s premier areas for admiring the fall foliage is about 100 miles north of San Francisco on the shores of Clear Lake in the incomparably beautiful Lake County, California. It’s a mountainous region that offers a distinctive terroir for high-altitude wines. We’ve selected a few of Lake County’s best spots for scenic drives to take in the splendid colors of the changing leaves.

Brassfield Estate Winery

Fall colors abound at the many award-winning wineries in Lake County. Photo: Brassfield Estate Winery

Lake County spends its autumn harvesting pears, walnuts and, of course, winegrapes, all against a beautiful backdrop of the color-turning leaves. A Lake County autumn drive offers several fantastic restaurants and terrific places to stay. We’ll leave those decisions to you, but we’ll also recommend some of the best places to take in the majesty of Lake County’s spectacular seasonal scenery.

Clear Lake State Park

On the shores of the oldest Lake in North America, the change in seasons is so stunning that it never gets old. Unspoiled Clear Lake State Park is a haven for watersports and fishing, and in the fall becomes a panoramic display of colors from its oak trees’ changing leaves. Clear Lake State Park also offers cabins and overnight camping, and numerous hiking trails that wind through these beautiful woods.

Clearlake Oaks

On the opposite, eastern side of Clear Lake, the little community of Clearlake Oaks displays gorgeous hues of red, yellow and orange on its eponymous oak trees. You’ll also see pastures of golden wildflower fields that bloom in the autumn, offering a special distinctive touch to this beautiful landscape.

Cobb Mountain

Heading up into the high altitudes, Cobb Mountain is situated on the southern end of Lake County and bursts with maple trees and dogwoods colorfully announcing the arrival of autumn. The towns you’ll pass through on a Cobb Mountain drive have names like Whispering Pines and Pine Grove, and their evergreen pines provide a stunning contrast to the shades of burgundy and gold of the trees with changing leaves.

Kelseyville

Known as the “Pear Capital of the World,” Kelseyville’s celebrated pear trees glow a vibrant yellow once the pears have been harvested. This turns the charming little town of Kelseyville into a beautiful autumn walking tour, as the pear-tree-lined sidewalks of Kelseyville figuratively turn to streets of gold.

Fall foliage tours in Lake County are not to be missed. The rolling hills and scenic mountains of this California wine country burst with colors like no others during the fall foliage season. Plan a trip to see the leaves change on the incomparable landscape of Lake County, where every day in autumn makes for a great Sunday drive.