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Fall Feeling

October 22, 1998|ROBIN RAUZI

Ah, finally, a breath of cool air after the heat of summer lingered. It is finally, officially, fall. Granted, we don't get the kind of fall that, say, people are flocking to Vermont to see. But there are signs of the season in parts of Southern California. You just have to know where to look.


Trees lining some residential streets throughout Los Angeles are showing colors, but to immerse yourself in the colors and aromas of autumn, head to Placerita Canyon Park for an easy hike through this section of the San Gabriel Mountains.

The site of the first discovery of gold in California--seven years before Sutter's Mill--Placerita Canyon now treasures its wealth of sycamores and oaks. Two miles east of the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway on Placerita Canyon Road, the park has a nature center and marked trails. The trip to the picnic area is four miles round-trip with only a 300-foot elevation gain.


The Farmers' Market at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue brings a rural tradition to the heart of the city: the country fair. Its Annual Fall Festival starts at 9 a.m. with roving musicians, craft making, pumpkin carving and hay rides behind giant Clydesdale horses. Los Angeles County master gardeners also will be on hand with gardening tips and free seeds so you can have a harvest of your own next season. In the afternoon, put on your fancy boots and start dancing. At 4:30 p.m., live music will start for square and line dancing. Then, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., the inaugural Harvest Moon Ball gets underway with square, line and swing dancing. The country fair also runs Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (323) 933-9211.

If you happen to be headed to Idyllwild, the city hosts an art walk and wine tasting from 4 to 6:30 p.m. As if the glorious fall colors of the area weren't art enough, six local galleries will open their doors and serve wine from Forest Glen Winery. Tickets may be purchased at Hilltop Realty, 54274 Circle Drive.


Get ready for Halloween by heading to the Calabasas Days Pumpkin Festival. At the Paramount Ranch Site in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, there will be more music, more dancing, but most importantly, 30 tons of pumpkins.

These folks have perfected every form of pumpkin competition: seed spitting, pumpkin pie eating and pumpkin bowling. Paramount Ranch is near the intersection of Mulholland Highway and Cornell Road. The festival is also open Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $4-$8. (818) 225-2227.

Fall is also one of the best times for bird-watching in Southern California as winter migratory paths take dozens of species through the region. At 8:30 a.m., naturalists from the Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society will lead a bird-watching walk along Malibu Lagoon State Beach. Beginners are welcome on this two- to three-hour walk along the beach and trails. Call (310) 457-2240 for more information.

While most flowers are going dormant, the chrysanthemum is blooming in brilliant colors this time of year. Japan's imperial flower will be celebrated at the Chrysanthemum Festival at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden in Long Beach. The festival, from noon to 5 p.m., includes music from the Kokoro Taiko Drummers and demonstrations in ikebana flower arranging. The garden is on Earl Warren Drive on the Cal State Long Beach campus. Admission is $4, $3 for seniors, free for children. (562) 985-8885.

Nearby in Cal State Long Beach's parking lot C, pick up a shuttle to Rancho Los Alamitos for its Children's Fall Harvest Festival. From noon to 4:30 p.m., the free event has a petting zoo, puppet show and educational programs on the hibernation of plants and animals. (562) 431-3541.

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