Where to See Fall Foliage in Southern California

A woman in front of her Cabana van on a bright sunny day, by the water.

Living in sunny SoCal is pretty idyllic year round, but for a week or two in the fall you might find yourself missing the seasonal change. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far for sweater weather and a picturesque autumn scene. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a road trip, there are hiking trails and scenic drives to be had. Here are 4 places near LA for fall leaf peeping.

Ice House Canyon Trail, Cucamonga Wilderness

Just an hour east of LA you can find stunning fall foliage in October. The Ice House Canyon Trail is rated as hard on AllTrails, but there is no need to complete the loop to enjoy the view. With just a mile of the trail you’ll get to enjoy the fall foliage along the river. The trail can get crowded on weekends, which is no surprise considering how close it is to the city. Still, for a quick fall escape, it’s a prime spot. 

The campgrounds in the Angeles National Forest are mainly first-come first-served, so plan on securing a spot early in the day, or save time before dark to scout for pull offs. Manker Campground is a good one to try first!

Idyllwild, San Jacinto Mountains

Fall views from Idyllwild (Photo Credit: Victor Baro)

Drive two hours east of LA and you’ll find yourself in the village of Idyllwild. Surrounded by national forest, this mountain town is the perfect autumn escape to combine outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and rock climbing with quick access to quaint dining and shopping.

Stay at nearby Lake Hemet Campground for a stunning fall scene, or use iOverlander to find dispersed camping within the San Bernardino National Forest.

Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino Mountains

In the San Bernardino Mountains, an hour and a half from LA, lies Lake Arrowhead. You don’t have to work too hard to find fall colors popping up in this area. The scenic drive and the foliage surrounding the lake will take your breath away. To really feel like you've left SoCal, reserve a table at Lake Arrowhead Village’s Oktoberfest, which runs weekends from mid-September through October.

The nearby Dogwood Campground is fully booked pretty far in advance for weekends, so head to recreation.gov to secure a fall spot! For awesome camping options and even more autumn views, continue east another hour to Big Bear Lake.

Julian, Cuyamaca Mountains

Leaf peeping in Julian (Photo Credit: Megan Nixon)

This mountain town in San Diego county is 3 hours from LA and is perfect for leaf peeping and apple picking! Julian is known in Southern California for its apple orchards. After hiking through the area’s scenery, enjoy apple pie and cider tasting, too.

There aren’t too many overnight parking options in the area, so secure a spot at William Heise County Park in advance.

Putting together a fall road trip? Combine these leaf peeping spots in a loop that looks like this to fit in apple picking, Oktoberfest-ing, and hardcore hiking. If you're traveling with Cabana, add Trip Planning to your reservation for personalized itinerary assistance!

Hitting the road even sooner? Here are 3 Reasons to Visit Yosemite this September.

Fall in Yosemite (Photo Credit: @westcoastinsiders)

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