Don’t tell anyone but the aspen’s transformation into golden glory has been slightly disappointing in the last couple of years. Blame caterpillars, fungus, and warm weather I guess. Another tree has been fantastic year after year for fall yellow: cottonwoods. They like water and lower altitudes so they are found in bosques, along arroyos or anywhere there’s a little extra moisture.
The trails at the southern end of the Galisteo Basin Preserve have some great cottonwoods and I found more looking down the views from the Cerrillos Hills State Park. Ojo Cliente Spa has trails near cottonwoods and, closer to home, they can be found on the Little Tesuque Creek Trail a mile or so north of 10,000 Waves.
Next week I’ll scout the Chili Line Trail at Buckman Road and the Rio. I hope to find some heroic old trees there. The leaves will be gone, but I’ll add it to my personal list of cottonwood trails for next fall.