Aspen Festival returns to Alpine

Exploring Alpine County's aspen groves, including this one in Hope Valley will be on the menu at the Aspen Festival Oct. 8-9. Photo by Darrell Brown

Exploring Alpine County's aspen groves, including this one in Hope Valley will be on the menu at the Aspen Festival Oct. 8-9. Photo by Darrell Brown

Aspen groves are among the largest and oldest organisms on Earth because they reproduce by cloning.

“Aspen is primarily a clonal species, meaning it regenerates from the root system and sends up suckers,” U.S. Forest Service Vegetation Management Staff Officer Annabelle Monti said in July. “The drawback of an aspen stand being all of one clone is that variability doesn’t exist, so if something affects the stand, it will affect the entire stand (or clone) of trees.”

As foresters work to restore burn areas like the Tamarack, they are finding more and more aspen seedlings.

“This is actually pretty exciting from a genetic perspective – genetic variability is really important in trees to be able to respond to stressors, like bug and diseases,” she said. “I’ll be looking at the aspen stands in Tamarack a lot closer now to see if I can find any instances of this, too. They did find it on the Caldor fire.”

Like the aspens that make Alpine County a popular stop for “leaf peepers,” Markleeville businesses and nonprofits are regenerating the annual Aspen Festival Oct. 8-9.

This year’s lineup includes guided hikes with the Friends of Hope Valley, an inaugural chili cookoff to benefit Alpine Kids, Crafters Fair, and live music featuring Ten Dollar Pony, presented by the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway Association.

The nonprofit organization Friends of Hope Valley traditionally hosts guided hikes and outdoor activities during the peak leaf season.

This year they will be stationed at Picketts Junction in Hope Valley 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can experience the fall colors in one of the most popular viewing locations while also learning about area’s history and ecology and enjoying guided hikes for all ages.

The inaugural Leaf Peepers Chili Cookoff and Crafters Fair will be held at the Library Park in Markleeville. Tasting kits for the Chili Cookoff are $5 each and may be purchased on site at the Markleeville Library Park. Proceeds benefit Alpine Kids. The event is scheduled to run from 12:30-3 p.m. on Oct. 8 with tasting kit sales beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The Crafters Fair will continue through Sunday at the Library Park, where the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway Association will be presenting live music featuring Indie folk rock and acoustic band Ten Dollar Pony from noon to 3 p.m. Opening for Ten Dollar Pony will be guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Beans Sousa.

The Byway Association promotes the beauty, stewardship, and travel of the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway.

Admission to all events except the Chili Cookoff is free. Crafters Fair vendors and Chili Cookoff contestants contact Dawn Riddle at or call (530) 694-2475.

More information can be found at or by emailing or calling (530) 694-2475.


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