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The Tall Locust Trees planted years ago along Julian's narrow streets are once again brightening this backcountry (and former gold rush) town with blossoms of white, pink, and lavender. Introduced into the West by 19th-century emigrants, locust trees have become almost a trademark of California's gold country, from the Mother Lode south to Julian.

The Black Oak, San Diego County's most handsome native deciduous tree, is sending out new leaves this week, painting the mountain slopes with shades of red, brown, and bright green. The newly emergent leaves are reddish brown in color, creating a pseudo-autumn color in the forest. After a week or two the unfolding leaves acquire a light green tint; after a month they're dark green. Black oaks are common throughout the upper elevations of the Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Laguna mountains. Enjoy the show by exploring either the Fry Creek or Observatory trails on Palomar Mountain. Both begin at the national-forest campground area two miles below Palomar Observatory.

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