Sun Valley — It took a while. But, finally, the aspen leaves in the ridges and ravines around Sun Valley are starting to turn.
It looks as though Mother Nature is taking a brush to the trees, infusing them with a painter’s palette of gold, orange and red right before our eyes.
The yellow and red leaves splashed against Idaho’s azure blue skies give familiar scenery a totally different look. Early snow that’s capped mountain peaks only heightens the colorful pageant.
“I can’t help but gawk at the colors. I have some favorite stands of aspen that I seek out every year,” said Ketchum resident Lindsey Crawford.
Dan McDonald relishes mountain biking in the fall.
“The air is crisp and invigorating. Fall showers have settled the dust on the trails. And it’s fun having a few leaves fall on you as you’re biking,” he said.
About two-thirds of the trees are still green, which means there’s a lot of leaf changing to do.
But, as Leslie Treshow of Bellevue said, “Sometimes, they literally seem to change before our eyes. The trees were green around Ketchum when my husband and I left to go camping one day. And when we returned a day later, they were yellow and orange.”
Here are three areas in the Wood River Valley to indulge in the color while getting your mountain bike fix:
Adams Gulch: Drive north on Highway 75 through Ketchum and turn off onto Adams Gulch Road opposite the north end of Big Wood Golf Course. There is no street sign but a brown Forest Service access sign points the way. Follow the road as it winds up onto the hill and to trailhead parking. Sunnyside, Adams Gulch Loop are particularly colorful, while Lane’s Trail offers some nice overviews of the colors in the valley.
Corral Creek: Drive out Sun Valley Road and park at the parking lot just north of Boundary Creek campground. Follow this trail to the northeast until it crosses on a bridge over Trail Creek to a sagebrush-covered flat on the other side. The trail continues east through aspen stands. On the way back, you will find plenty of aspen color along Trail Creek Road, as well, with Baldy in the background.
Lake Creek Trail: Turn off at the Lake Creek Trailhead just north of Ketchum on Highway 75. Cross the bridge and turn right at the first fork in the trail to wander amidst the changing leaves on the banks of the Big Wood River. Eventually, the trail will lead you up the hill, continuing above the river where you can inhale still more stunning examples of fall foliage.
Prefer road biking? The Wood River bike path running from Hulen Meadows north of Ketchum through Hailey is boasting a stupendous array of color, with the native aspen mingling with planted maples and other ornamental trees.
The bike path parallels Highway 75 through the towns of Hailey and Ketchum, with many jumping on spots along the way.
The bike path running from Elkhorn Road at Highway 75 up through Elkhorn and down Dollar Road to Sun Valley Resort is also sporting some beautiful fall foliage.