California Fall Color
Dude, autumn happens here, too.

Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Sierra’

“Pockets of Resistance” in the Eastern Sierra

Tue ,28/10/2014
June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

Pockets of Resistance along the June Lake Loop (10/26/14) Alena Barnhart

We’ve reported that this is the autumn that just won’t die and that’s seen in these photographs taken by Alena Barnhart along US 395.  Color spotters Nick and Alena Barnhart term the areas where color persists as “pockets of resistance.”

Alena Barnhart 4

Lundy Pond (10/26/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop  (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

June Lake Loop (10/25/14) Alena Barnhart

That means, even though “crazy” wind should have stripped trees of leaves (as occurred last Friday and Saturday) there are areas where the trees “resisted” the elements.

Now, we all know trees can’t resist the wind.  Probably, they were in a spot where swirling winds missed the groves or the trees were still early enough in their change that their leaves had enough strength to stay attached.  Whatever the reason, the result is that a different type of scene develops, one mixed with stripped and unstripped trees, which is lovely in its own right.

So, even though we’re now classifying many areas in the Eastern Sierra as “peak to past peak” or fully past peak, there still are “pockets of resistance” to be appreciated.

Hike of the Week: Lower Rock Creek Road

Mon ,27/10/2014
Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

This will likely be the last week for any significant color in the Eastern Sierra, so if you hope to see any color in the Eastern Sierra, go immediately.  Otherwise, you’ll likely be reading that YOU MISSED IT.

Mono County color spotter Alicia Vennos recommends this week’s Hike of the Week along Lower Rock Creek Road which is right off US 395 just south of Tom’s Place.

Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek  (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek (10/26/14) Alicia Vennos

Lower Rock Creek Rd (Peak – 75 – 100%) - HIKE OF THE WEEK: Drive about 2.5 miles down Lower Rock Creek Rd. to the first major pull-out (west side of the road),  park and then cross the road to hike back up the trail.  Aspens along the beautiful rushing creek are at peak now. Look for the beaver dam which has stilled the water surface to afford mirror-like reflections of the trees.  The trail is multi-use, so mountain bikers, hikers and anglers.  Alicia warns, “Please watch out for one another!” GO NOW!

Mammoth Lakes (Peak to Past Peak – Sections of Mammoth Creek Rd. (off Old Mammoth Road in Mammoth Lakes) still offer brilliant red and orange on the trees.

June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158  (Past Peak) - Even though the June Lake Loop moves to being past peak, a few stands remain vibrant, particularly around Gull Lake, at the base of June Mountain and just north of Silver Lake. YOU MISSED IT!

Lee Vining Canyon (Peak to Past Peak) – The lower section of Tioga Pass Rd. and Lee Vining Canyon are peaking beautifully, with some trees definitely past peak. GO NOW!

Conway Summit, Green Creek Road and Twin Lakes (Past Peak) - Again, though spots of color appear in the groves surrounding Bridgeport, comparative photos now show the haunting contrast between most of the trees that are completely bare and those few with bright patches of color still on them.  Overall, it’s past peak and one good gust from being stripped.  YOU MISSED IT!

West Walker River and Walker/Coleville (Peak – 75 – 100%) - Grand cottonwood flanking the northern stretch of US 395 and along the West Walker River are bright yellow at peak. GO NOW!

US 395, Bishop (10/24/14) Kathy Thieu

US 395, Bishop (10/24/14) Kathy Thieu

Bishop (Peak 75 – 100%) - US 395 from Lone Pine to Bishop is at peak with cottonwood and sage brush golden.

California Fall Color Glows High Above US395

Sun ,26/10/2014
South Fork Bishop Creek (10/25/14) Janek U

South Fork Bishop Creek (10/25/14) Janek U

Aspendell (10/25/14) Janek U

Aspendell (10/25/14) Janek U

Aspendell (10-25/14) Janek U

Aspendell (10/25/14) Janek U

Color spotter Janek U wrote that he traveled to the Eastern Sierra from Orange County, yesterday, stopping twice along the way along US 395.  We receive many reports from Bishop Creek Canyon and points north, but were most interested on his report of what he saw south of Bishop, as few spotters have reported about those areas (tip: the fastest way to get a photo or report posted is for it to be about an area from which we don’t receive many reports).

Janek reported that at Lone Pine, he drove up to Whitney Portal.  “There is some color on the peaks on the way up but they are too remote.  There are also some groves of aspens near the road but there aren’t too many trees.  He continued north to Bishop Creek Canyon finding the last of the color at Aspendell, noting that “The tops of some trees are beginning to turn red.”

It’s truly remarkable that the color there continues to show, even though winds over 20 mph were blowing.
Lone Pine (US 395) – (Peak to Past Peak) - Stands of color are seen high up in the Eastern Sierra.
Aspendell, Bishop Creek Canyon (Peak to Past Peak) - Brilliant color continues to survive, despite winds above 20 mph.  For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reporting the color would last only a few days.  Reports of its death are beginning to sound “Twainian.”

Aspen Flicker, As Autumn Wanes at Aspendell

Sat ,25/10/2014
Aspendell (10/24/14) Yin You

Aspendell (10/24/14) Yin You

Aspendell (10/24/14) Yin You

Aspendell (10/24/14) Yin You

Aspendell (10/14/14) Yin You

Aspendell (10/14/14) Yin You

As the last of the aspen drop leaves up Bishop Creek Canyon, we received these images today from Yin You and Jim Hemming’s video of his recent visits to the Eastern Sierra. CLICK HERE.

Travel Writer Lee Foster Describes US 395 Fall Color

Fri ,24/10/2014
Lake Sabrina (10/4/14) Lee Foster

Lake Sabrina (10/4/14) Lee Foster

Travel writer and photographer Lee Foster provides his perspectives on fall color viewing in the Eastern Sierra in his blog, FosterTravel.com.  To read Lee’s article, CLICK HERE.

Aerial Eastern Sierra

Thu ,23/10/2014

Keith Lake flies over the Eastern Sierra in these videos of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop Creek Canyon, posted last week.

Her Hardest Hue to Hold

Sun ,19/10/2014
Aspendell (10/19/14) Steve Wolfe

Aspendell (10/19/14) Steve Wolfe

Color spotter Steve Wolfe reports from the Eastern Sierra that this weekend was glorious, though he worries that wind predicted for tomorrow will strip what little is left in Bishop Creek Canyon.

A mix of color is seen in and around Aspendell and S. Bishop Creek (10/19/14) Steve Wolfe

A mix of color is seen in and around Aspendell and S. Bishop Creek (10/19/14) Steve Wolfe

Steve was at Aspendell today and caught these lovely images.  He notes, as Jared Smith did last week, that the area around Aspendell is both at peak and past peak, though on the main road through Aspendell there’s still green among the aspen, meaning that color change will continue to develop for a week or two.

It’s a mix of patchy color with yellow, orange and leafless stands.  The color is lasting a week longer than usual.  “Even around the tiny burg of South Fork Bishop Creek there are pockets of bright yellow aspen with this photo taken about a mile up the road.” If you’re in the area, GO NOW!  As, Monday’s wind will likely strip what color remains.

Bishop Creek – Gone With The Wind

Wed ,15/10/2014
Remembering Lake Sabrina at Peak (10/1/14) Jared Smith

Remembering Lake Sabrina at Peak Two Weeks Ago (10/1/14) Jared Smith

“Two days of wind was all it took to strip the vast majority of aspen in the higher reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon,” color spotter Jared Smith writes on his last report of autumn.  Parchers Resort closes for the season on Sunday (Oct. 19) and with its shuttering, Jared’s reports come to a close.  He’s always the most diligent of the contributors to this blog, with accurate and thorough reports that have guided photographers, leaf peepers and travelers to the Eastern Sierra.  It has become a tradition here to thank him for his beautiful photographs and helpful commentary.  Here’s what he had to write, today:

Overall Conditions – Above 8,500′ Elevation – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Overall, the weather this past month has been exceptional, so Jared wrote he wouldn’t complain for the sudden end of the show up Bishop Creek Canyon.  This year, there was ample time for folks to see the color and get some beautiful shots.  With Sabrina, North Lake, Sabrina Camp, Parchers Resort and Willow Camp almost completely stripped of leaves, there’s not much left to be seen in the higher reaches of the canyon.

Overall Conditions – Between 7,500 and 8,500′ Elevation – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
While a few areas still have some beautiful color, most notably Intake II, Aspendell and the Four Jeffries area, much of the color on either side of the canyon is past peak and/or stripped because of the last two days of wind.

Parcher’s Resort (9,260′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few small pockets of color persist in and around the resort.

Stiny Loop (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Stiny Loop (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Still some decent color in this area but we’re definitely past the peak color.

Mist Falls (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Mist Falls (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Mist Falls and the Groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The wind was especially harsh in this area and what was at peak color over the weekend is now mostly gone.  Only a fraction of the grove is showing brilliant color but it’s still worth a look.

Aspendell (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (8,400′) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
The trees in this neighborhood seem to have withstood the wind storm quite well and there is a ton of color along Hwy 168 both before and after the small community. The area leading up to Cardinal Village is also looking brilliant.

Groves Above Cardinal Village (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Groves Above Cardinal Village (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few pockets of color is left above Cardinal.

Four Jeffries (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Four Jeffries (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Four Jeffries (8,000) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
Some of the smaller scrub aspen have already peaked and dropped but the larger trees are just now showing peak color. There is actually a fair amount of green still holding strong so it’s feasible that we may get another full week of color out of this area if the weather cooperates.

Intake II (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Intake II (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Intake II (8,000) – Peak Color (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
This area is just on the verge of passing the peak color mark but there is certainly enough beautiful orange and yellow to garner a peak color rating. Especially beautiful is the grove above the lake in the campground.

Willow Campground (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Willow Campground (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Willow Campground (9,000′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Very little color survived the wind.

Big Trees Campground (7,800′) – Patchy – (10 – 50%) 
We’re really not seeing much color develop here, just some lime green. The trees here don’t look particularly healthy with some of the foliage turning from light green to brown without any yellow – perhaps the drought was just too much for the trees down there.

Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Some patchy color is still hanging around near the back of the campground but most of the color along the road is gone.

Surveyors Meadow (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Surveyors Meadow (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Surveyors Meadow (8,975′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
Just a few tiny patches of yellow are left.

Lake Sabrina (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina (10/15/14) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The fall color show is over up at Lake Sabrina with just a few select trees here and there showing any color.

North Lake (9,255′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
The wind didn’t leave much color unfortunately.

Weir Pond (9,650) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
No color is left at Weir.

Sabrina Campground (9,000′) – (Past Peak) YOU MISSED IT!
All of the color was stripped by the wind unfortunately.

With Jared’s final report, conditions up Bishop Creek Canyon will no longer be reported.  They, too, are now gone with the wind.  However, reports move up to June Lake and the Shasta Cascade and down Southern California.

Crazy Good Below 8,500′; You Missed It Above

Wed ,08/10/2014
What You Missed at McGee Creek Canyon (10/5/14) Mariusz Jeglinski

What You Missed at McGee Creek Canyon (10/5/14) Mariusz Jeglinski

“Crazy Good” is how color spotter Jared Smith of Parchers Resort describes fall color conditions between 7,500 and 8,500’ elevation this week.  Though, above 8,500’, if you weren’t there this past weekend, you missed one of the most spectacular shows of fall color, ever.

The upper reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon have now dropped much of their leaves, though a few areas still have very beautiful, but also very fragile color.

Peak has moved down to areas like the lower Bishop Creek Canyon, June Lake Loop, Hope Valley and Lake Tahoe.

What we’ve noticed to be consistent this autumn is that once color begins to change at a given elevation, it happens quickly. We had some areas as Just Starting last week, but within days they progressed to full peak.

EASTERN SIERRA – BISHOP CREEK CANYON

Old Road from Willow Camp to Parchers Resort (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Old Road from Willow Camp to Parchers Resort (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Overall Conditions Above 8,500′ Elevation – Peak (75 – 100%) GO NOW!
Jared Smith from Parchers Resort reports that this past week was incredible for fall color, especially last weekend which exhibited an absolute peak at North Lake and Lake Sabrina.  An impressive number of weekend visitors traveled to Bishop Creek Canyon for the show.  Several areas above 8,500’ still have color yet to develop, though many trees have now lost their leaves.

Because some of the more popular locations in the higher reaches of the canyon like Weir Pond, North Lake and Surveyor’s Meadows were better a week ago, Jared has rated them as Past Peak. Still, there are still lots of postcard quality views above 8,500’ on both sides of the canyon, most notably the groves near and above Parchers Resort, the North Lake Road, the old road between Willow Campground and Parchers, and the Cardinal Mine area which are still at peak color.

Even as much of the color on the mountain slopes has faded or is fading, the aspen along South Lake Road, and both the middle and south forks of Bishop Creek have exploded into full color making for an incredibly scenic drive.

Overall Conditions Between 7,500’ and 8,500′ Elevation – Patchy (10 – 50%)
The difference between this week and last was stunning, especially between the 8,000’ and 8,500’ elevation, where last week’s lime green and patchy yellow turned to brilliant yellow and orange with touches of rosy red.

Jared says it was wonderful to see that for each location passing the peak color mark, a new area in the canyon seemed to turn brilliant and show peak or near peak color to replace it.

Some of the more famous views in the canyon, including Mist Falls and the view up canyon from Aspendell are now showing peak color providing visiting photographers and painters with as much fall color as they could possibly need to inspire their artistic spirit.

With a favorable forecast through the weekend, we’re expecting one more week of crazy good color to enjoy. Jared rates the overall conditions in this elevation range right at 75% of peak.  Here’s Jared Smith’s report:

Wier Pond )(10/7/14) Jared Smith

Wier Pond )(10/7/14) Jared Smith

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Weir Pond (9,650′) 
The canyon wall above the pond is pretty well stripped of color now and even the aspen behind the pond have faded. There are still some brilliant aspen in full fall splendor along either side of South Lake Road but this location certainly isn’t as beautiful as it was last week at this time.

Parchers Camp (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Parchers Camp (10/8/14) Jared Smith

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Parchers Camp (9,260′) 
Somehow the color around the resort has really held on strong with lots of peak color, mostly yellow and orange, especially on the mountainside to the north of the resort. Some gorgeous old growth aspen behind the resort and along Green Creek are showing some of the brightest and purest yellows in the canyon making for some wonderful forest views. Also noteworthy is the old road along the So. Fork Bishop Creek that flows between the resort and Willow Campground. The sheer granite cliffs have some awesome red shrubbery adding a unique contrast to some of the yellow aspen clinging to the rock. There are also some tremendously large trees which provide a rather awe inspiring canopy to those who wander down from Parchers or up from Willow.

Willow Camp (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Willow Camp (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Willow Campground (9,000′)
The aspen along the road around the campground, and to a large degree the aspen within the campground, have past their peak and begun to lose their leaves for the season. Still, some excellent opportunities for color can be found by parking on the shoulder or in front of the gate to the campground and walking up the old road. Some gorgeous yellow and rosy red groves can be found just above the campground and the slow moving stream in this area makes for some gorgeous reflections if you can find the right angle and light. This area is no longer on the must-see list, but it’s certainly worth a stop and on the should-see list.

Lake Sabrina (10/7/14) Jared Smith

Lake Sabrina (10/7/14) Jared Smith

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Lake Sabrina (9,150′)
As incredibly gorgeous as the color still is at Lake Sabrina, the peak color around the reservoir was probably late last week, at least to Jared’s eye. Much of the color has faded or disappeared altogether from the east shore with the best color, especially some seriously bright orange and touches of red, near the back of the lake and all along the inlet stream at the very south end of the lake. The first pond just below the dam and the road from there up to the boat landing is an area that is still showing peak color, and in my opinion is still a must-see for anyone visiting the canyon.

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Sabrina Campground (9,000′) 
There is still some color hanging around in the campground and along Hwy 168 above the campground but this area was certainly better late last week than what we’re seeing now. Many of the trees have already shed their leaves and most of the yellow aspen are exhibiting some brown spotting, a sure sign that the leaves won’t be around much longer. There are still some wonderful views along the slow meandering stream but it will probably be over by week’s end.

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) –  Table Mountain Camp (8,900′) 
The groves just below the campground are now mostly kaput but some exceptional color can still be found by walking into the campground itself. The forest floor is littered with soft yellow aspen leaves and the groves across the meadow to the south are still brilliant and just now peaking so there are at least a few great shots to be taken here, even if the color is past peak.

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) 
There is still a lot of color in this area but even so, its past peak. The group of about 20 painters hit the peak on Saturday and we’ve seen a slight decline in the amount of color here each day since. Plenty of yellow and orange can still be viewed, especially along the stream just above the meadow. The aspen on the left side of the road are also showing peak color.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Big Trees Campground (7,800’)
Nothing terribly impressive happening down below the South Lake turnoff yet but we’ll keep an eye on it.

North Lake Road (10/8/14) Jared Smith

North Lake Road (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Past Peak (YOU MISSED IT!) – North Lake (9,255′)
North Lake is another must-see location even though it isn’t quite as amazing as it was last week. Especially impressive is the color along the north shore of the lake and along the dirt road. There is also quite a bit of color to the left of the road near the campground gate (which is now closed).

Stiny Loop (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Stiny Loop (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8,600′) 
While there is one short stretch of stream where the aspens have dropped their leaves, the majority of the color between Mt. Glen Campground and the end of the Stiny Loop is simply gorgeous with lots of yellow and orange. This old dirt road is especially beautiful in the afternoon as the backlit aspen shimmer brilliantly.

Mist Falls (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Mist Falls (10/8/14) Jared Smith

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350′)
It doesn’t get any better than what we’re seeing this week down near Mist Falls. The groves from Bishop Creek Lodge all the way up to Mt. Glen Campground are incredibly bright. There is a bit of lime green still yet to turn but for me this contrast of colors makes for an even better view. This week is the week if you want your own photo of this iconic waterfall.

Aspendell (10/7/14) Jared Smith

Aspendell (10/7/14) Jared Smith

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Aspendell (8,400′)
While there is still some green hanging tough within the small community, there is near peak color both just above and below the homes making for some gorgeous views. This area is absolutely worth a stop when visiting the canyon.

Groves Above Cardinal Village (10/7/14) Jared Smith

Groves Above Cardinal Village (10/7/14) Jared Smith

GO NOW! Near Peak (50 – 75%) – Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550′) 
The scrub aspen on the canyon wall just below Cardinal Pinnacle are mostly gone now but the most brilliant color and the densest groves of aspen are all along the middle fork Bishop Creek from just below Sabrina Campground all the way down past Cardinal Village Resort. This is one of Jared’s all-time favorite views in the Eastern Sierra and it just doesn’t look much better than it does right now.

Four Jeffries (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Four Jeffries (10/8/14) Jared Smith

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Four Jeffries (8,000′)
Some really nice color is developing along the So. Fork Bishop Creek in this area, especially between the campground and Bishop Creek Lodge. One stand of aspen is especially impressive showing some really bright red hues. Jared expects this area to peak in the next 7 days if the weather stays favorable.

Intake II (10/7/14) Jared Smith

Intake II (10/7/14) Jared Smith

GO NOW! Peak (75 – 100%) – Intake II (8,000′)
This is probably the best color Jared reports seeing at this small lake, especially between the upper campground and the lake. Some pretty impressive red is showing, along with bright yellow and some nice orange hues too. There is a sprinkling of green among the turning aspen making for some really cool reflection shots early in the morning.

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New Discovery – Big Pine Creek – Go Now!

Mon ,06/10/2014
Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Big Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

It’s been there all along.  We just never got a fall color report or saw photos of Big Pine Creek Canyon until Scott Turner visited this past weekend.

Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Big Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Big Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Aspen, Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

Aspen, Big Pine Creek Canyon (10/4/14) Scott Turner

GO NOW! – Peak (75 – 100%) Big Pine Creek Canyon - This hidden gem lies west of the town of Big Pine in the Eastern Sierra (not to be confused with Pine Creek Canyon, between Bishop Creek and Rock Creek).  Scott wrote,  “I wasn’t expecting much here, but I was fairly blown away. South Fork Canyon is about 50%. Along the North Fork Trail, the color is patchy until just past the second waterfall, at which point there’s a glorious grove of aspen trees at 100% peak. Every color represented. Probably the best color I saw all weekend. Getting all the way back to Second lake, with its aquamarine waters, added nicely to the color below.”

Scott plans a write up about the trail to appear in ModernHiker.com.  He mentions Big Pine Creek is popular among rock climbers and backpackers to gain access to Palisade Glacier.  Somehow it got overlooked as a location with compelling fall color.

Now, with Scott Turner’s report of fall color up Big Pine Creek, we challenge color spotters to be the first to send photographs of color up these other Eastern Sierra canyons: Whitney Portal Rd, Onion Valley Rd, Oak Creek Rd or Pine Creek Rd.