Glorious Color Emerges in Mono County

Sagehen Meadows (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

(Mono County – 10/4/17) – Peak is approaching at several viewing locations in Mono County, Jeff Simpson reports. We visited prime areas throughout Mono County today to find great color in the higher canyons.

Sagehen Meadows (10/4/17) Daniel Danzig

To the east of US 395, on a mountain area area that gets less water than the Sierra Nevada, Sagehen Meadows is at Peak and glorious. If you’ve not visited this remote place, take CA-120 (south of Mono Lake) 14 miles east to Sagehen Summit. Turn onto Sagehen Meadows Rd. and continue three miles south along a dirt road to Sagehen Meadows.

A dirt parking area at Sagehen can hold four cars and there’s a fairly steady stream of dusty cars pulling in for the view of venerable hot-red, flame orange and yellow-flecked aspen. They’re so old, they look as if they were there when the Sierra were made.

To the west, snowy peaks within Yosemite National Park are seen.  It’s a great place for contemplation, inspiration and a picnic.

Elsewhere in Mono County, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Rd., Convict Lake, Laurel Canyon Rd. (OHV), Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road and Lobdell Lake Road are all transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak. They should all be increasingly brilliant each of the coming 7-10 days.

Many areas like the West Walker River, Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon and the June Lake Loop are just getting started but still have sections of great foliage and are worth visiting this weekend.

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Peak (75-100%) Sagehen Summit has been at peak color for the last 5 days and is rapidly nearing past peak. You’ll still find sections of good color with dark crimson, reds and oranges, while other areas are going Past Peak. Sagehen Summit will still be great for the next few days but it will likely be gone after the coming weekend. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Rd. (7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Towering black cottonwood along Lower Rock Creek Rd – leading to and beyond the Mono/Inyo County line and into Round Valley – are crowned in gold and should continue to glow for the next three weeks.

Rock Creek Road (9,000′ to 10,300’) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – There’s wonderful color to be found along the lower section of Rock Creek Rd., with sections of great yellows and oranges, though the tale of all Sierra color areas is that large stands of Just Starting and Patchy aspen are there, too. The areas along Rock Creek Lake are best in midday light. Aspen in the Little Lakes Valley are peaking. GO NOW!

McGee Creek Campground (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

McGee Creek Canyon (10/4/17) Terry Rightmire

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – The aspen and cottonwood along McGee Creek Rd are crowned with golden color, providing for a stunning show. Hike Of The Week: walk a mile beyond road’s end toward the peaks beyond to pass through golden aspen groves and a mountain hillside that is painted with chartreuse majesty (as seen in Terry Rightmire’s image). GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) Patchy (10-50%) – Willows and aspen ringing the lake are patchy with large areas of emerging golden color. The aspen at the end of the lake are about 25% turned, so the show will continue to improve at Convict Lake for another two weeks. Take the 2.5 mile “Convict Lake Loop Trail” around the lake for a close up view of the leaves and different angles of Mt. Morrison.


Conway Summit (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

Conway Summit, north slope (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

Conway Summit (8,143′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – Some color spotters say Conway Summit is peaking, but with the amount of green still in the aspen groves, it’s a truly more of a mix of High Patchy to Full Peak. Nevertheless the overall impression takes one’s breath away. There are bold stands of yellow and orange while others are patches of lime and green. When you cross the summit, note that the aspen on the south slope have further along than those on the north slope. GO NOW!

Gull Lake (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

June Lake Loop – Patchy (10-50%) – Bright yellow aspen mixed with lime and dark green are seen along the edges of June, Gull, Silver and Grant Lakes, as well as beside the June Lake Loop.

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Much of Summers Meadow is patchy, though some individual stands have brilliant color. The massive elevation change on the mountain means these trees will be peaking at different times over the next two weeks.  NOTE: The Summers Meadow bridge sustained significant damage during the spring runoff. The bridge has been reduced to one lane traffic but is currently open to visitors traveling to Summers Meadow.

Summers Meadow (10/4/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Lots has changed here from last week but Lobdell Lake is still well short of Peak. You’ll find sections of peak color while other areas are still fully green. This is a perfect spot for portrait photography or anyone wanting to do close ups of isolated sections of trees. Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended.