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Owens Valley Still Crackling

Cottonwood, Owens Valley (11/10/17) Walt Gabler

Rabbitbrush, Owens Valley (11/10/17) Walt Gabler

The Owens Valley, from Bishop south, continues to carry crackling bright orange and yellow color, with cottonwood and rabbitbrush still at peak.

Mendocino County color spotter Walt Gabler passed through the Owens Valley on a trip down US 395 to the Imperial Valley.

He recommends the route as more scenic and satisfying than I-5 or CA-99, despite the added time, when driving to southeastern California.

Color spotter Clayton Peoples adds his endorsement of Walt’s report, stating he was traveling the eastside and “took a quick detour to the Alabama Hills (Whitney Portal Road just west of Lone Pine) and was not disappointed.”

The trees are still peaking along Lone Pine Creek, which weaves its way through the Alabama Hills. He sent his photo of his favorite cottonwood, “one that stands as a lone sentinel above the boulders near the painted rock.” Presently, it is “bursting with yellow.”

Cottonwood, Alabama Hills, Inyo County (11/10/17) Clayton Peoples

A bonus of visiting the Alabama Hills right now, Clayton writes, “is that one can include the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada–including the tallest, Mt. Whitney–in fall foliage photos.”

Owens Valley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

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California’s Best Show of Peaking Cottonwood

Round Valley (10/21/17) Michael Morris

Black cottonwood and Frémont cottonwood growing across the Round Valley northwest of Bishop are now peaking, reports Michael Morris.

Lee Foster and I visited this area a month ago and reported then that it would be spectacular at peak. Morris’ photographs confirm that prediction. This, quite likely, is the best show of peaking cottonwood in California.

If you’re in Bishop this week, we recommend that you set aside a little time to drive Pine Creek Rd. from Round Valley up into Pine Creek Canyon to see a mind-boggling ribbon of orange and gold cottonwood at peak beside Pine Creek.

Big Pine, US 395 (10/22/17) Michael Morris

Big Pine, south of Bishop is also at peak with cottonwood brightening the northern Owens Valley.

The show should continue to improve over this and next week in Big Pine, Bishop, at Buckley Ponds, in Round Valley and up Pine Creek Canyon.

In southern Inyo County, color spotter Mark Harding found Whitney Portal to be Past Peak with color now down to the campground, six miles west of Lone Pine.

Round Valley (4,692′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Big Pine (3,989′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Whitney Portal – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Whitney Portal Rd., Campground (10/22/17) Mark Harding

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Bishop Creek – You Missed It.

Sabrina Lake (10/12/17) Jeff Hemming

Bishop Creek Canyon is now almost entirely Past Peak.

Aspendell, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/14/17) Adam Weist

Whenever we report that an area is Past Peak, there’ll surely be someone who will send a photograph showing we’re wrong. Yes, there is still great color to be seen up Bishop Creek. However, for the most part it has blown. Tomorrow’s predicted wind event (gusting to 30 mph over ridges) will almost certainly strip what little remains.

The featured photograph (above) was taken by Jeff Hemming a week ago (Oct. 12) at Sabrina Lake (Bishop Creek Canyon). It shows Near Peak color at an area that has peaked in September in years past. Such is this autumn. It has been topsy turvy, cattywampus, totally out of sync.

Today, Sabrina Lake is officially Past Peak, though no doubt peak color can be seen today where it was green a week ago. As seen in Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar’s images, South Lake Rd. still has pockets of late-turning fall color, though most color spotters would classify the canyon, overall, as Past Peak.

That’s the story of this autumn… of stands of aspen changing in staggered displays according to their internal genetic clock.

So, what remains to be seen in Inyo County?

South Inyo County is at Peak or Near Peak at Big Pine Creek, the Whitney Fish Hatchery and Alabama Hills. Spectacular Peak color was seen this past week on the trail to Whitney Portal. Likely, spots of that color remain, though the big ribbon of color (search Whitney Portal to see it), is gone.

Near Peak to Peak this week will be Pine Creek Rd. and the Round Valley, north of Bishop, with an impressive, long and scenic band of lush Frémont and black cottonwood, likely California’s best groves. Eastern Sierra color spotters have ignored Pine Creek, perhaps because it has cottonwood, not aspen. They shouldn’t, as the trees are backed by a breathtaking range of peaks at the western end of the canyon. This could be a great drone shot, which we’d love to post (YouTube).

The Round Valley (north of Bishop) also has towering cottonwood, some near weathered old cabins… well worth a detour.

Eastern Sierra

Southern Inyo County

  • Whitney Portal (8,374’) – Peak to Past Peak  – You Almost Missed It.
  • Onion Valley (9,600’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Big Pine Creek (7,660’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Whitney Fish Hatchery (4,000’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Alabama Hills (4,534’) –Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Northern Inyo County

Mountain Glen, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/17) Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar

South Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon

  • Weir Pond (9,650’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Parchers Resort (9,260’) -Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Willow Campground (9,000’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) -Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Table Mountain Group Camp (8,900’) –Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Mountain Glen -Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Mist Falls and Groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) -Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Four Jeffrey (8,000’) – Peak (75-100%)  GO NOW!

 

S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/17) Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar

Sabrina Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Sabrina Approach (9,100′) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Aspendell (8,400’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Intake II (8,000’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Near Peak (50-75%)    GO NOW!

 

Willows, Campground,
S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/16/17) Suvadeep Ghosh Dastidar

North Lake

  • North Lake Road (9,000’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • North Lake (9,255’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Upper North Lake Road (9,255’) – Past Peak – You Missed It.

Pine Creek/Round Valley

  • Pine Creek Pack Station (7,441′) – Past Peak – You Missed It.
  • Pine Creek Road (7,200′) – Near Peak (50-75%)  GO NOW!
  • Round Valley (7,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%)  GO NOW!
  • Lower Rock Creek Road (7,000′) – Near Peak (50-75%)  GO NOW!

Owens Valley/Bishop

  • Owens Valley (4,100′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Bishop (4,150′) – Patchy (10-50%)
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Peak and Past Peak on the Eastside

Tuli, a miniature Labradoodle, enjoys the fall color at McGee Creek (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

Mono County was peaking gloriously this past weekend, while areas above 8,500′ in the eastern Sierra Nevada, including most of Bishop Creek Canyon had peaked.

Color spotters Maggie Huang and Anirudh Natekar found beauty at McGee Creek, Lundy Lake, the June Lake Loop and Convict Lake.

Maggie captured her dog, Tuli’s, joy over being able to hike off-leash on posted Eastern Sierra trails, saying she was, “enjoying the moment of her life!”

Aspendell, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/15/17) Anirudh Natekar

Anidrudh’s shot of Aspendell shows the last of the color at this elevation along the Sabrina fork of Bishop Creek. There is peak beauty still there to be seen, but it is fading quickly.

Niven Le followed our advice and traveled to the same areas, finding peak color wherever we advised going.

Here’s what they saw.

Aspendell, Bishop Creek Canyon – Peak to Past Peak – You Almost Missed It.

McGee Creek Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Convict Lake – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

June Lake Loop – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Lundy Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Grant Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Grant Lake, June Lake Loop (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Lee Vining Canyon (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Lee Vining Canyon (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Lee Vining Canyon (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Sherwin Creek Campground (10/14/17) Gene Miller

Gull Lake (10/15/17) Niven D Le

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convict Lake, CA-395 (10/15/17) Niven D Le

June Lake Loop (10/15/17) Niven D Le

Lundy Lake (10/15/17) Niven D Le

June Lake Loop (10/15/17) Niven D Le

Sonora Pass (10/14/17) Niven D Le

Lundy Lake (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

June Lake Loop (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

June Lake Loop (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

June Lake Loop (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

Convict Lake (10/15/17) Maggie Huang

June Lake (10/15/17) Anirudh Natekar

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Whitney Portal Aflame With Color

Whitney Portal (10/13/17) Blair Lockhart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whitney Portal trail in southern Inyo County often gets overlooked by color spotters because it takes some effort to get to it, but as these images from Blair Lockhart attest, it shouldn’t be missed when it’s peaking.

This is definitely the Hike of the Week, though strenuous.

Whitney Portal (8,374′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Whitney Portal (10/13/17) Blair Lockhart

 

 

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Eastside Getting Hotter

Cardinal Village (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Convict Lake (10/7/17) Carol Novacek

Convict Lake (10/7/17) Dave Olden

It’s taken a while for fall color to develop on the Eastside, but signs are that it’s getting hotter, as seen in Ryan Prawiradjaja’s shot of aspen near Cardinal Village (Bishop Creek Canyon, Inyo County).

Carol Novacek hiked around Convict lake in Mono County on Saturday and found it not as far along as it was last year, though the difference in change in her photos indicate’s it’s getting close to peaking, since I was there on Wednesday.

At the time, only about 25% of the trees at the far end of the lake, below Mt. Morrison, had changed. In the three days since, more than half have turned yellow.

Convict Lake Trail (10/7/17) Herb Hwang

Color spotter Herb Hwang hiked beside Convict Lake to find the aspen 50/50 in lime and yellow. While, Dave Olden found the same, but noticed the lack of oranges and reds.

Convict Lake (7,850′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – GO NOW!

Carol found Lundy Canyon, to the north in Mono County, Near Peak and “Glorious!”

Lundy Canyon (7,858′) – Near Peak (50-75%) – GO NOW!

Erick Castellon visited McGee Creek to return with these spectacular shots of peak color along the creek.  The peak color starts above the trailhead parking lot. Down canyon, Near Peak and Patchy conditions exist, meaning that the show will continue for another two weeks at McGee (conditions permitting).

 

 

McGee Creek (10/7/17) Erick Castellon

McGee Creek (10/7/17) Erick Castellon

McGee Creek (8,600′) – Near Peak – GO NOW!

Color spotter Clayton Peoples was among several who reported they traveled to the Eastside, “hitting key fall color spots in Inyo and Mono Counties. Most places–particularly those above 7,000′.”

Here’s what he found:

Upper Rock Creek (9,000′ to 10,300′) – Peak GO NOW! – Similar to what is happening elsewhere, there’s a varied mix of color in the groves, though Upper Rock Creek is a consistent Peak (75%-100%). The area around Rock Creek Lake is especially stunning right now, and a short hike on the Hilton Lakes Trail provides a great introduction to the beautiful color–with Bear Creek Spire and surrounding peaks serving as an awe-inspiring backdrop.

June Lake Loop (7,654′) – Near Peak GO NOW! – There is a lot more variation here than the aforementioned locations–some groves are still sporting lots of green, while others are brimming with yellow and orange glow. As such, Clayton rates the Loop in its entirety as “Near Peak” (50%-75%), but some groves are already Peak (75%-100%). For instance, the grove along the north shore of Silver Lake has peaked, but the aspen lining the south side of June Lake are Near Peak with probably a week to go before Peak.

Sonora Pass, CA-108 (10/8/17) Robert Cherenson

Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) GO NOW! – Sonora Pass (CA-108) is peaking reports Robert Cherenson. He traveled CA-108 finding peak color just west of the pass, two miles east of the pass, at the Leavitt Meadows Pack Station and the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, near US 395. Spotty salmon-colored and yellow aspen grow along the West Walker River to the town of Walker on US 395.

Aspen, June Lake (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

June Lake (10/8/17) Michael Brandt

Bishop Creek (8,000′ to 9,768′) – Peak GO NOW! – Most of the canyon has moved dramatically toward peak color, with “the Cardinal Village area is really popping right now. There is a beautiful pond on the property that is surrounded by white granite boulders and aspens–all of which are now peaking out in a vibrant yellow.”

North Lake (9,225′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – North Lake is the problem child of Bishop Creek Canyon. Some color spotters love it, while others say it is done… put a fork in it. As Xin Wang’s sunset photograph of North Lake shows, there are still many green aspen on the hillside above where the aspen are at peak. Though also in the photograph, some stands are now Past Peak. While, along the North Lake Road, it has been peaking, as seen in Peter Robbins’ shot (thumbnail below – click on thumbnail images to enlarge).

Bear Creek Lodge, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Kevin Gilligan

Quaking Aspen, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Cardinal Village, Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

Mist Falls, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/7/17) Ryan Prawiradjaja

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pond at Cardinal Village (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

Bear Creek Spire, Upper Rock Creek (10/7/17) Clayton Peoples

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Xin Wang

Table Mountain Group Camp, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Conway Summit (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Sagehen Meadows (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

June Lake Loop (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

Silver Lake (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

South Lake Rd. near Parchers, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/7/17) Ravi Ranganathan

North Lake Turnoff (10/7/17) Peter Robbins

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Lime, Yellow, Orange and Gone

Table Mountain Group Camp, S. Fork Bishop Creek (10/3/17) John Poimiroo

Bishop Creek Canyon is a mix of every level of peak, from Just Starting, to Patchy, to Near Peak, to Peak, to Past Peak, some occurring at the same location.

North Lake is a puzzle. It’s lime, yellow, orange and gone, all at the same place.

Peak color is near the lake with green aspen far above. We rate it Near Peak, though it’s peaking in areas, nowhere close in others and past peak, too.

Sabrina is topsy turvey. The higher you go, the less consistent the color is. Intake II (at the lowest elevation) is Near Peak, while Sabrina Approach (higher up) is Patchy.

Aspen at the center of the Groves Above Cardinal Village were past peak and surrounded by a ring of patchy, though mostly green aspen. Aspendell has hardly any color, though that’s not unusual. It’s often the last to peak.

We were there to sort it out and ran into dozens of color spotters and photographers who were shrugging their shoulders in confusion. Seeing me trying to find some color along a stream at Sabrina Approach, one photographer turned and said, “I did the same thing, and came to the same conclusion… not yet there. Still, I’m glad to be here.”

Those of us who were there this week, were certainly glad to be in Bishop Creek Canyon searching for fall color, as there were moments of breathtaking wonder.

Travel writer/photographer Lee Foster and I found it in a dazzling display along the South Lake Road. From Parchers down to the Mist Falls at Mountain Glen the hillsides are lit with pink, orange, yellow and lime aspen.

While several of South Lake’s groves could technically be rated as “Patchy,” Oh!, how beautiful they are in the midday sun. No one photographing them was disappointed. That’s why it gets rated as peaking. GO NOW!

Southern Inyo County

  • Whitney Portal (8,374’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Onion Valley (9,600’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Pine Creek (7,660’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery (4,000’) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Alabama Hills (4,534’) – Just Starting (0-10%)

South Lake

  • Weir Pond (9,650’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Parchers Resort(9,260′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Willow Campground (9,000’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Table Mountain Group Camp (8,900’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Mountain Glen (8,500′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Four Jeffrey Campground (8,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)

Sabrina Lake

  • Lake Sabrina (9,150′) – Patchy (10 – 50%) to Peak (75-100%)
  • Sabrina Approach (9,050′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sabrina Campground (9,000’) – Patchy (10 – 50%)
  • Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Patchy (10 – 50%) 
  • Aspendell (8,400’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)
  • Intake II (8,000’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%)

North Lake 

  • North Lake Road – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • North Lake (9,255’) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!
  • Upper North Lake Road – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Round Valley/Pine Creek

  • Pine Creek Pack Station – Peak GO NOW! – A small grove of aspen is at peak near the trailhead and pack station.
  • Pine Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%) – The black and Frémont cottonwood along Pine Creek will be gorgeous when they peak.
  • Round Valley – Patchy (10-50%) – Landmark black cottonwood grow throughout the Round Valley, often near old weathered cabins. They are now crowned with yellow and will be beautiful at peak.
  • Lower Rock Creek Rd. – Patchy (10-50%)

Owens Valley/Bishop

  • Owens Valley – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Bishop – Just Starting (0-10%)

Here’s a fun gallery of snaps taken at various unidentified Bishop Creek Canyon locations.

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

Bishop Creek Canyon (10/6/17) Dandy Candywolf

 

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Unsynchronized North Lake

(North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon – 10/3/17) – Here’s a report from Bishop Creek Canyon, recorded today.

North Lake and Sabrina Lake are Near Peak, though with large areas of Patchy color. South Lake has Peak color and is glorious!

Please note: This autumn is very different in Bishop Creek Canyon from previous ones in that the color is not synchronized. Groves in the same area are at all stages, from Just Starting to Past Peak.

So, if you delay visiting, you’re likely to miss it all, as no one area is going to peak all at once this year.  Only South Lake has that potential, but even the green among the groves is spectacular, there. Expect to see bare limbs near brilliant color, beside green trees.

Bottom Line… GO NOW!

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It All Begins at 1:02 p.m. Today

Autumn begins throughout California at 1:02 p.m.

That’s when the autumnal equinox occurs, starting a new astronomical season. At that moment, the sun’s rays are almost equally divided between the northern and southern hemisphere.

Thereafter and continuing to the winter solstice on Dec. 21, days get shorter and colder, as the amount of sunlight reaching the northern hemisphere declines.

Less light results in less chlorophyll being produced in deciduous plants. As the green chlorophyl subsides underlying brown, red, orange and yellow colors are seen. Colder temperatures also intensify red, orange and yellow colors. Though, eventually, the leaves weaken and fall.

Autumn is the only season with two names: Autumn and Fall. It gets the latter from those falling leaves.

Many believe California’s best weather occurs in autumn. Days remain clement, but nights are cooler. There’s a crispness in the air, but also a soothing envelopment that almost feels as if you’re being embraced by the season.

Why is it that there is such celebration when pumpkin-spiced lattes return to cafe menus in autumn?  Is it their taste, or the recollections of this gathering season that they inspire?

Autumn is the season of harvest, reunion, tailgating, wine making, costume parties, sweaters and thanksgiving. Though it would not be what it is, without Fall.

Over the past couple of days, snow has fallen in the High Sierra. Several of you have asked what effect the early snow might have on autumn color. The answer is: “Little to No Effect.”

Snow usually only damages the change of color on leaves that have turned color or have nearly turned color. Leaves that are vibrant and still producing chlorophyl shake off a little snow with no effect on the color. However, were the same to occur at an elevation that was near peak to peak, leaves in the process of turning would either be spotted or blown from their branches.

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Rock Creek Canyon (9/22/17) Will Ridgeway

Will Ridgeway took these photographs near Rock Creek Pack Station yesterday morning.

He writes that “The snow on green Aspen leaves makes it look like we’re going straight from Summer to Winter, though that’s temporary.

“That said, there was a good amount of colour above Lake Sabrina this morning, roughly equal parts green, yellow and orange depending on the location of each grove.” he describes.

Lake Sabrina – Near Peak (75-100%) – Will Ridgeway rates the upper groves high above Sabrina Lake near 10,000′ in elevation as nearing peak. GO NOW!

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County (9/22/17) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Meadow, Mono County – Patchy (10-50%) – Color spotter Bruce Wendler found “the first fire of autumn” lighting the hills around Sagehen Meadow, south of Mono Lake. Frigid temperatures are stimulating vibrant color change in high areas of Mono County.

Unidentified exotic tree, Downtown LA near Fig Plaza (9/21/17) Mohammad Delwar

Los Angeles – Just Starting (0-10%) – Often what appears to be autumnal change is not exactly the same thing. Del Hossain saw this blooming tree in downtown Los Angeles yesterday and had the presence of mind to photograph it and ask if it might be fall color.

This is one of the myriad of non-native (or exotic) trees that have been planted in our urban forests. It has a flower or seed pod (similar to a Bougainvillea bloom) that Del described as “a splash of pinks, reds,or orangish”.

What is most important is that Del turned a break while working in the heart of Los Angeles (Downtown Magnets High School – Go Suns!) into an inspirational fall color sojourn.  Fall color creds to anyone who can identify the tree, and to Del for sharing.

Southern Inyo County

Whitney Portal Trail (9/16/12) Dennis Vance

A new feature this autumn is driving tours of prime fall color destinations across California. First up: Southern Inyo County. These driving tours predict when and where color will be peaking. As with any prediction, it is subject to be off, depending on conditions.

Whitney Portal Peak Color: mid September. From Lone Pine, drive west along the Whitney Portal Road to trail’s end, then hike (strenuous) up the trail to Big Horn Sheep Meadow (10,300’) to be dazzled by bright yellow willows.

Onion Valley – Peak color: Early to mid October. From Independence, drive west on Onion Valley Rd., along Independence Creek to the Onion Valley Campground.  Stands of aspen and meadows full of willows provide displays of autumn color. For hikers (strenuous), the Bubbs Creek trail leads to Pothole, Gilbert and Flower lakes.

Big Pine Creek – Peak color: Early to mid October. From Big Pine, take the Glacier Lodge Road west along Big Pine Creek to Glacier Lodge.  Aspen, cottonwood and willow grow along the creek and in meadows. For hikers, the North Fork hike gains 3,000’ in 9.2 mi. and is listed as strenuous, though beautiful stands of color are seen the higher you hike.

Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery – Peak color: mid to late October. Although the fish hatchery has been closed since 2008, due to storm damage, its majestic structures and surrounding cottonwoods provide dramatic color and visual interest.  The site is reached easily from Independence.

Alabama Hills – Peak Color: late November to early December. Take US 395 west from Lone Pine to the Alabama Hills, a rugged location often used as the backdrop for television and motion picture “westerns.” In December, weathered cottonwoods provide a colorful contrast to the snowcapped Sierra.

Next up: driving tours of the Bishop area of Inyo County.