Brilliant Fall Colors and a Cozy B&B Near Sonora Pass
Every autumn, the aspens and oaks along California’s Highway 108 put on a dazzling display of fall color against a backdrop of pine forests and bright blue skies. The scenic route winds through the heart of the Stanislaus National Forest, passing alpine lakes, meadows, and mountain vistas as it skirts the northern boundary for Yosemite National Park and climbs up to Sonora Pass. At an elevation of 9,623 feet, the pass is the second-highest in California.
One of the best spots for fall color along route is the vista point at Donnell Lake. The vista point overlooks the lake and the Dardanelles, which are a series of volcanic ridges. In the fall, the trees are ablaze in fiery yellows and oranges and the colors stretch for miles along the ridges. Other great spots along Highway 108 for fall foliage include Sardine Meadow, Leavitt Falls Overlook, and Leavitt Meadow Overlook.
The time to go is now. The leaves begin turning in late September and peak in October. Snow will close the pass over the Sierras by November.
For a cozy place to stay, book a room at the McCaffrey House Bed and Breakfast Inn. The welcoming three-story B&B is nestled just off the highway in a quiet forest hollow near Twain Harte. The charming rustic mountain town sits at an elevation of 4,000 feet and was named for two American authors, Mark Twain and Bret Harte, who wrote stories about the region during the California Gold Rush.
The McCaffrey House property was purchased by the family in 1964 and served as their vacation retreat for decades. They spent entire summers in the mountains and winter weekends skiing at Dodge Ridge Ski Area. As Michael and Stephanie McCaffrey were planning for retirement, they decided to build a B&B where the family’s cottage once stood. The McCaffreys will celebrate the inn’s 25th anniversary next year.
The inn offers eight spacious guest rooms with enchanting forest views from every room. All of the rooms feature cozy fire stoves, private baths, traditional pine furnishings, beautiful quilts, luxurious sheets, and plush robes.
I stayed in the McCaffrey House’s Evergreen Room which has a beautiful writing desk in the bay window and a private balcony. Both overlook the forest, where blue jays and a multitude of other birds flit from tree to tree.
The McCaffreys serve complimentary wine and cheese each evening by the fireplace and a full, candlelit breakfast each morning. The morning of my stay, Stephanie prepared a delicious, Italian-inspired entrée of eggs baked in a ramekin with marinara sauce, cream, and a variety of cheeses. The dish was served with roasted potatoes, bacon, an English muffin, fresh fruit with vanilla yogurt, and a choice of juices, coffee, and tea. Stephanie’s hearty breakfasts are guaranteed to fuel any adventure, be it autumn leaf-peeping, skiing, hiking, biking, boating, or exploring the region’s historic gold rush towns.
The McCaffrey House is a destination for all seasons and the owners’ welcoming hospitality is second to none.