Color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort near South Lake reports dramatic change of color up Bishop Creek Canyon in the Eastern Sierra. Here’s his report:
Overall Conditions (above 8,500ft) – There is such a drastic difference in color between the higher reaches of the canyon and the lower that I decided to go ahead split the overview into two sections for the remainder of our fall color reports. So, above the 8500ft level, many areas have drastically changed from last week with many groves going from green to peak color in just over one week’s time… incredible. Plenty of yellow with touches of orange, rose, and red showing both on the middle fork of Bishop Creek towards Sabrina as well as around North Lake. Brilliant yellows and oranges are dominating the So. Fork Bishop with probably the most vibrant groves showing between Mountain Glen Campground and Weir Pond.
Overall Conditions (below 8,500ft) – A little yellow popping here and there with considerable lightening of the aspen and cottonwoods from dark forest green to lime green. Look for this to improve vastly in the next week.
75-100% – Table Mountain Camp (8,900ft) – The hill is on fire with much of the aspen displaying the full glory of autumn color. Still some late bloomers in the mix making for a great mix of yellow, lime green and orange.
75-100% – Surveyors Meadow (8,975ft) – Another area that really popped this week is Surveyor’s meadow aproximately a mile down from Parchers Resort. Color is splashed from the creekside trail all the way up the mountain to near the Tyee Lakes trail. Still some green left to turn but I would guess this area to be at peak color next week.
50-75% – Lake Sabrina (9,150ft) – Lake Sabrina continues to put on a show, especially the grove across from the café which is notorious for showing some of the most vibrant red in the canyon.
75-100% – North Lake (9,255ft) – I have never seen such a quick transformation as I’ve seen at North Lake since last week. Even day by day the color is popping everywhere. Some of the aspen which were green last week are peaking or even slightly past peak. Still, plenty of gorgeous yellow along the famous North Lake Road along the lake as well as near the campground entrance. The grove that popped first below the first parking lot is starting to fade but there is a lot of great color surrounding the lake and up into the campground.
75-100% – Steiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600ft) – This is kind of a sleeper spot as the dirt road accessing this beautiful stretch of aspen growth is easy to miss. Still, if you keep an eye out to your left about a mile past Mountain Glen Campground you should find it. The aspen all along the creek and on either side of the road are at or very near peak color….spectacular.
30-50% – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350ft) – Not much going on last week but as was the case in much of the canyon, this is a very different week with color developing quickly.
0-15% – Aspendell (8400ft) – It’s a bit surprising given the color just a mile up the road but the aspen in and around this small community on the middle fork of Bishop Creek is still green as green can be. This is a good thing there is plenty of color now and it would be nice to have some more areas developing great fall color in the coming weeks.
50-75% – Groves above Cardinal Village (8550ft) – Brilliant color dominates the vista from just above Aspendell with the crest in the background and plenty of yellow and some orange in the foreground. This area is much closer to the 75% rating and may very well peak within the week. Gorgeous views driving up Hwy 168 towards Lake Sabrina
Jared promises additional reports from Four Jeffery Camp, Intake II, Big Trees Camp next week – all of which are currently at 0-15% of peak color. To plan a trip to Inyo County, visit www.theothersideofcalifornia.com
Alicia Vennos of Mono County (Eastern Sierra) advises that though an area may have a low overall percent change, pockets of color within an area may be peaking, so don’t avoid visiting an area just because a lower percentage of change is being reported. Here’s an example of this phenomenon from Lundy Canyon.
0 – 15% – Lower Lundy Canyon – At lower elevations from 7,000 – 8,000 feet, the aspen are still largely green, just starting to turn lime to yellow. Lower Lundy Canyon, Lower Rock Creek and the famous June Lake Loop (Hwy. 158) have only just begun to show the change. However, elevations above 8,500′ are peaking.
75 – 100% – Lundy Lake – At Lundy Lake, the color is above 75%, but as you drive higher to the trailhead, the aspen are still very green — with some completely past peak and everywhere in between!
30 – 50-% – Lundy Canyon Trailhead – At the Lundy Canyon trailhead, aspen above the beaver dam are at 40% of peak
75 – 100% – Lundy Canyon Avalanche Zone – Gnarled aspen in the avalanche zone are at peak with many already past.
75 – 100% – Canyons above 8,500 feet – the colors are peaking or approaching peak. Rock Creek, McGee Creek (upper trail at first stream crossing) and Virginia Lakes (9,000′) are all approaching peak. Below 8,500′, the colors are two weeks from peak.
15 – 30% – Lower McGee Creek –Color spotter Whitney Lennon sends photos taken along McGee Creek, south of Mammoth Lakes (off U.S. 395). She says Lower McGee Creek has a way to go, perhaps two weeks to peak.
50 – 75% – Conway Summit – Approaching peak.
Planning a trip to Mono County: Alicia suggests now’s the time to plan a trip to see the always-wonderful June Lake Loop. Don’t wait until we report “Go Now!” or you may miss it entirely. Her advice is sound in that we measured significant change up Bishop Creek Canyon this past week. Those holding off visiting until later are likely to be disappointed. A central site for lodging and camping suggestions is www.MonoCounty.org. Additional lodging suggestions are found at www.visitmammoth.com.
To get to Mono County, drive US 395 along the Eastern Sierra or from LAX, fly direct to Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH) on Alaska Airlines.