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Lee Vining Starting to Go

Lee Vining Canyon (10/17/17) Roger Gonzales

Lee Vining Canyon (10/17/17) Roger Gonzales

Roger Gonzales was in Lee Vining Canyon (east side of Yosemite National Park) yesterday, reporting that it is starting to go.

As evidence, golden chips of aspen leaves littered the canyon floor.

While Roger classified the canyon  as Past Peak, there was so much orange color in some of the groves, they’re definitely at Peak though about to fall.

Whether an area is at Peak or Past Peak is one of those in-the-eye-of-the-beholder questions.

A rule of thumb is that as long as a grove has substantial color left in it, the stand is at Peak. Though, it can be classified as from Peak to Past Peak (You almost missed it.).

 

 

 

Lee Vining Canyon (10/17/17) Roger Gonzales

Lee Vining Canyon (10/17/17) Roger Gonzales

However, once most of the leaves have dropped (even though some remain) and – most importantly – if the stand has lost its photogenic interest, then it is Past Peak and You Missed It.

Lee Vining Canyon – Peak to Past Peak (You Almost Missed It.)

 

 

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Mono County Keeps On Giving

June Lake (10/12/17) Phillip Reedy

June Lake (10/12/17) Phillip Reedy

Oh, to be Phillip Reedy. He always seems to be at beautiful places.

This past week, Reedy and Ben Waterman visited Mono County, sending back these wonderful images.

Phillip reported that while Bishop Creek is basically Past Peak at higher elevations, it’s still nice at lower elevations, but the real trophy winner is McGee Creek in southern Mono County with lush Peak color.

June Lake (7,654′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

 

 

 

 

June Lake (10/12/17) Phillip Reedy

June Lake (10/12/17) Phillip Reedy

 

 

 

June Lake (10/13/17) Ben Waterman

Rock Creek, Mono County (10/12/17) Ben Waterma

McGee Creek (10/14/17) Phillip Reedy

McGee Creek (10/14/17) Phillip Reedy

McGee Creek (10/14/17) Phillip Reedy

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Time to be Outside on the Eastside

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Whoa, if ever there were a weekend to get Outside on the Eastside, this is it in Mono County.

Peak color can be found anywhere you go and whichever direction you drive. We’ll be posting an update on Lake Tahoe and the Hope Valley, after returning to scout those locations (Oct. 12) and fully expect the color to be great, just as it is in Mono and Inyo Counties right now.

Part of the reason this autumn is so good is why it is so confusing. On the exact same day for the same location we’ve received conflicting reports stating, “It’s gone” or “it’s spectacular” or “not yet there.”

What’s happening is that the aspen forest, for the first time in anyone’s memory, is turning by grove. Stands of aspen are different genetically, and they’re demonstrating their individuality this autumn. In past years, the genetic differences between the groves seemed to make little difference, as the trees at least acted as if they were on the same clock. Not this year.

What that means for fall color viewing is that the show is lasting longer, but not as uniformly at any given location.

The big change this past week occurred at the highest elevations, which for the most part went Past Peak. Places like Upper Rock Creek (10,300′), Tioga Pass (9,943′) and Sagehen Meadows (8,139′ – High Desert, so it’s drier there) are now Past Peak.  Though, that’s not universally true. Some of the groves at “you’ll-get-winded walking there” heights are still green.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Some spotters began declaring calamity after seeing stripped stands at some locations, posting on Facebook and elsewhere that high winds had stripped the color. So, I called Mono County fall color guru Jeff Simpson (Yes, you’ve now achieved guru status in your life, Jeff).

Jeff lives on the eastside and has been reporting autumn color for years. He seemed to be offended by the suggestion that fall had ended, saying, “in no way have all the leaves blown off.”

OK, Jeff, OK. I believe you, especially since you’re now a guru and after seeing your photos, taken as late as yesterday.

So, count on it.

This weekend, there’ll be lots of gorgeous color to be seen at: Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Canyon, Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake Road, Lee Vining Canyon, Monitor Pass and the June Lake Loop, even if a few leaves have fallen, as seen at right.

Here’s a detailed report from Mono County, a go-to destination for great fall color this week:

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Peak (75-100%) – Aspen on the summit are perfect, right now. Look for the large grove of trees on the east side of the summit to have the best display of color. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) – This area has never looked as good. Lots of peaking trees with deep reds and yellows. Get here fast, as some stands are past peak or will not last much longer.  Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Walker Canyon (5,200′)- Patchy (10-50%) – Walker canyon has slowed since last reported. There are stands with great yellows and lime greens while others are just getting started. Give it a week and it’ll be rating “Go Now!”, but not just yet.

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Just Starting (0-10%) – A few cottonwoods have started to turn but this is traditionally the last place to peak in Mono County. Look to go here in the 3rd or 4th week in October. Nevertheless, there are spots where the tall cottonwood are crowned with yellow in the midday sun.

Sonora Pass (9,623′)- Peak (75-100%) – It’s a fall color inversion here, as colors are looking nice around Leavitt Meadows Pack station and the lower sections of Sonora Pass, whereas aspen near the summit never seemed to get going. You’ll find peak to past peak groves along the road and is still worth the trip this weekend. See our earlier report about Obsidian Campground – glorious! GO NOW!

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes (7,000′) -Peak (75-100%) – The biggest change in Mono County this week has occurred at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Wonderful color has appeared along the upper and lower lakes, and up the mountainside toward Horse Creek. GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) –Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak – The leaves never got going at Virginia Lakes, this year. Though, there’s still some great color along Lower Virginia Lakes Road. GO NOW! as You’re About to Miss It.

Conway Summit (8,143′)- Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lot’s of great color at Conway Summit right now. A few stands are a little green while most of the mountainside is at full peak. Tip: visit in the late afternoon, as shadows make this difficult to photograph in morning light. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) – – Simply spectacular. Entire groves of peaking aspens make this location a must stop.  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. GO NOW!

Conway Summit (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is great color to be found in Lee Vining Canyon, especially along Log Cabin Mine Road. Higher up, Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake are past peak. GO NOW!

Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′)- Peak (75-100%) – Be prepared for brilliant color up Lee Vining Canyon at the first set of waterfalls. Color along the road and campground is our peak as Peak of the Week. GO NOW!

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Past Peak (You Missed It.)

JUNE LAKE LOOP

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lots of bright lime, yellow and orange in the aspen around the June Lake Loop. There are peak trees just about everywhere. And yet, the June Lake Loop will last another week or two. We do not recommend delaying, but if you only can visit in two weeks, you should still find spots of good color. GO NOW!

Parker Lake (8,000′) – 50-100% Go Now!  – Wow. From Parker Bench to Parker Lake be prepared to drop your jaw. You will find a mix of color from Patchy to Near Peak, to Peaking, to Past Peak, but overall it’s lovely. GO NOW!

MAMMOTH LAKES

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Mammoth has come into its own, with good color along Mammoth Creek Road and Sherwin Creek Road and among bright orange willows at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow Rd. (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – – McGee Creek Canyon is at full peak and has wonderful color right now while the road is still a bit patchy. GO NOW!

Around Crowley Community (6,781′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Poke around the community and you’ll find bright color there and along the hillsides beside U.S. 395. Take the “old US 395” road from McGee Creek to Tom’s Place for great views of the color change that’s occurring up the mountain. GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) – Convict Lake is a “must” stop this week. Colors are at their peak along the lake and up Convict Canyon. 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. GO NOW!

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) –Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) –  – Wonderful color along the lower section of Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place. There are sections of great Yellows and Oranges while other areas above the lake may be past peak. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Road(7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%)

A Fluttering Memory

Three weeks ago, Vince Piercy captured this scene in the Hope Valley.  It will be beautiful there and in Mono County this weekend, though with a few less leaves a fluttering.

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Fall Color Survives in Mono County – GO NOW!

Silver Lake View (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Silver Lake View (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

To all those photographers, color spotters and leaf peepers who were concerned about how this past weekend’s strong winds, rain and snow affected the High Sierra, rest easy and GO NOW!

Mono County color spotter Jeff Simpson reports that the storm and major wind event that occurred over the weekend has past, leaving the mountain peaks shining with snow, and providing for spectacular fall photo opportunities.

Conway Summit (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Conway Summit (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Ideal conditions for fall color are now to be found on the east side, with warm days and cold nights.  These conditions are predicted to persist until next week.

All areas above 8,500′ in the Eastern Sierra are now mostly past peak, though there’s way, way lots of color left to be enjoyed along the June Lake Loop, Walker Canyon, Twin Lakes and Lundy Lake. So, “GO NOW,” Jeff exclaims.

Photo tip: Fallen leaves that wash up beside creeks and on rocks accent the scene.  So, even though many leaves have fallen, good photographs remain to be taken. Shoot big waterfalls with a fast shutter speed, small waterfalls with a slow shutter speed and with camera mounted on a tripod.

These areas were affected by the storm, but still have groves of fantastic color: Conway Summit, Convict Lake, Summers Meadow, McGee Creek and Rock Creek.

As of posting this report, Tioga Pass, Sonora Pass and Monitor Pass were closed. However, road conditions change. CLICK HERE for the latest in California road road conditions and pass openings/closures. Simpson reports:

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

  • Monitor Pass – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Lobdell Lake – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Walker Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The banks of the West Walker River are lined with gold! Plan your viewing for mid-day as the shadows will be out early in the morning and late afternoon.
  • Towns of Walker & Coleville – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Lots of great color in Antelope Valley. The cottonwood around Topaz Lane should be spectacular this weekend.
  • Sonora Pass – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

  • Twin Lakes – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still plenty of excellent color around both lakes and through Robinson Creek. Make sure to take the dirt round around Lower Twin Lakes for the best fall color experience.
  • Virginia Lakes – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

    Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

  • Conway Summit – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – A lot of leaves were blown off during the storm but around 35% of the leaves still remain. It’s a fantastic photo opp with the snowy mountains in the background.
    Green Creek – Past Peak
  • Summers Meadow – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still a few groves handing on with brilliant color with some sections being past peak. 

LEE VINING 

  • Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Lee Vining Canyon has amazing color in all the campground down to US 395. Anything above Lee Vining Canyon is past peak with Tioga Pass currently closed.
    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Mule deer, Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Mule deer, Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    West Walker River (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    West Walker River (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

  • Lundy Lake & Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Brilliant oranges and reds along the campground and in the creek down to US 395.  Anything Lundy Lake and into Lundy Canyon is past peak.

OLD BENTON

  • Sagehen Meadows – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

JUNE LAKE LOOP

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Groves of brilliant yellow, gold and red in some locations while others are past peak. Fantastic color around Gull Lake and in between Grant and Silver Lake.
  • Parker Lake -Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Little Walker Lake -Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

MAMMOTH LAKES

  • Devil’s Postpile National Monument – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Mammoth Creek Rd. – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Snowcreek Golf Course – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

CONVICT LAKE / LAUREL CANYON / ROCK CREEK / McGEE CREEK

  • Laurel Canyon – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Convict Lake – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Rock Creek – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Pockets of bright color can still be found.
  • McGee Creek – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Pockets of bright color can still be found.

CROWLEY / TOM’S PLACE

  • Crowley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Tom’s Place –  – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Bold yellow aspen surround the community, though much has fallen.
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One Last Look

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Daniel Stas took our advice and headed to June Lake today for one last look before the storm arrived. Here are the wonders he found.

Convict Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Convict Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

June Lake Loop (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

June Lake Loop (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

junelake1

June Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

June Lake Loop (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

June Lake Loop (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Mule Deer, Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

Mule Deer, Silver Lake (10/13/16) Daniel Stas

 

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Mono Peaking Everywhere – Don’t Delay – GO NOW!

Lundy Canyon (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Lundy Canyon (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

“Everything, everywhere (in Mono County) is peaking right now, including the June Lake Loop which is glowing and brilliant especially ‘down canyon’ from the Double Eagle Resort to Grant Lake,” reports color spotter, Alicia Vennos.

If you can get there today, GO NOW! As, it may not be there in a day or two. Darrell Sano visited on 10/12 and plans to continue photographing on 10/13, right up to the point when the scene might be gone with the wind.

Alicia advises that a storm is expected on Friday (10/14), with a break Saturday (10/15), and potentially more precipitation on Sunday (10/16). The storm could close Tioga and Sonora passes, though the freeze is expected to be very high.

Tip: During and immediately following an early winter, the scene is spectacular as trees, heavy with fall color, are dusted with snow.

Alicia suggests that anyone traveling this weekend should consult the weather forecast and road conditions (1-800-427-7623) before heading to the East Side in order to avoid road and pass closings.

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Iconic locations at peak include the June Lake Loop, Convict Lake, Conway Summit, Walker Canyon, McGee Canyon, Twin Lakes and Summers Meadow.

Areas near the end of peak and likely to transition to past peak this weekend include Monitor Pass, Sonora Pass, Lobdell Lake (4WD high clearance vehicles only) and Parker Lake.

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – You’ll see color from top to bottom right now. Check road conditions before attempting to cross this pass.

Horse Creek Falls Trail, Twin Lakes (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Horse Creek Falls Trail, Twin Lakes (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Lobdell Lake – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still some brilliant colors but most leaves will be blown off by the end of the weekend. For 4WD high clearance vehicles only.

Walker Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Lots of yellows around every bend working all the way up to Sonora Pass. Still a few days short of full peak. 

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Patchy (10-50%) – Just getting started but those iconic cottonwood trees will be perfect next weekend. 

Sonora Pass – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – An incoming storm this weekend may close the pass and the fall color door on this location. Check road conditions before attempting to cross this pass.

 BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!  – Still a little green around Upper and Lower Lakes and through the campgrounds of Robinson Creek. Hike the Horsetail Falls or Barney Lake trails for peak colors. 

Virginia Lakes (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Virginia Lakes (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Conway Summit (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Conway Summit (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Virginia Lakes – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Conway Summit – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still slightly green in some spots but will be perfect later this weekend, conditions permitting, especially on the south side of Conway near the Mono Lake overlook.  Check this location post storm for snowy mountains in the background and fall color in the foreground. 

Green Creek – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Past peak in the upper elevations, especially on the hike to Green Lake. Colors around the road and campgrounds are at peak color. 

Summers Meadow – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – This location will be gleaming with color the next 10 days

Sunrise, Mono Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Sunrise, Mono Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now! – Lee Vining Canyon is just getting going while the colors around Tioga Pass and Saddlebag are past peak. Check road conditions before attempting to cross this pass.

Lundy Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Lundy Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Lundy Canyon (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Lundy Canyon (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Lundy Lake & Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! Lundy Canyon and around the beaver ponds are at full peak while colors around the lake and campground are still spotty. 

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Meadow – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

JUNE LAKE LOOP

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! Groves of brilliant yellow, gold and red in some locations while others are still patchy. The drive around the June Lake Loop (Hwy. 158) is especially gorgeous down canyon from the Double Eagle Resort to Grant Lake. 

Parker Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Parker Lake (10/12/16) Darrell Sano

Parker Lake – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Colors are still unbelievable at Parker Lake. Take the Parker Bench Trail from Silver Lake Resort for a more difficult but worthy fall color experience.

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Litttle Walker Lake (10/10/16) Alicia Vennos

Little Walker Lake – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! –Little Walker Lake is finally starting to shine and should be perfect over the next 5 days. 

MAMMOTH LAKES

Lakes Basin – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Colors around the Mammoth Lakes Basin are at full peak.

Mammoth Creek Road – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Take the drive around Sherwin Creek for the best chance for peak fall color.

CONVICT LAKE  

Around resort/campgrounds – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!  Still slightly green the closer you get to US 395 but still plenty of color. 

Convict Lake & Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! Colors around the lake and up Convict Canyon are brilliant right now! Take the short and easy hike around the lake for the best fall color experience. 

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK  

McGee Creek Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!Great color around the pack station and campground right now!

Around Crowley community – Patchy (10-50%) 

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Around Rock Creek Lake  Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

Along the road – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Colors along the road and in the campgrounds are at peak while the higher elevation locations are at past peak. 

 

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June Lake on Track for Terrific Color

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/7/16) Jeff Simpson

After hearing today that leaves had dropped from some aspen trees at June Lake, we asked Jeff Simpson to go there and photograph what it looks like, right now. His photos do not disappoint.

The aspen groves are lush and full of leaves, though, on closer inspection, some are spotted with black leaf spot fungus. Still, June Lake is on track for terrific color.

Next weekend (Oct. 15/16) should be prime for peak color at June Lake. Make your travel plans, now!

June Lake Loop/Hwy 168 – Patchy (10-50%) – The patchy rating is deceiving.  This area should easily move to near peak within a week.

As such, in the coming week June Lake is sure to earn the title PEAK OF THE WEEK.

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Sierra Gold Discovered in Mono County

Hikers along the Lundy Canyon Trail (10/2/16) Alicia Vennos

Hikers along the Lundy Canyon Trail (10/2/16) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Canyon (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Fall foliage is peaking in Mono County and will continue for two weeks.

Color spotter Alicia Vennos calls the brilliant yellow, orange and red leaves, her county’s “Sierra gold” and recommends visiting Lobdell Lake, Sonora Pass, Green Creek, Lundy Canyon, Parker Lake, and Rock Creek, this week. They are all at full peak and will be aglow through Monday.

Other  locations worth viewing are Monitor Pass, Summers Meadow (off Green Creek Road), Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon Trail, and McGee Canyon.

The West Walker River, Convict Lake, the June Lake Loop, and Little Walker Lake are just starting to show color and should be ready for the weekend of the 15th.

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

  • Monitor Pass – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Still green in some locations but groves near the top of the pass are peaking.
  • Lobdell Lake (9,200′) Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Colors are absolutely stunning along the road to Lobdell Lake just off Burcham Flat Road. 4WD vehicle necessary – high clearance vehicles ONLY!
  • Sonora Pass (9,623′) Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Last week’s storm blew a few leaves off the trees near the top of the pass. Areas near the Mountain Warfare Training Center near US 395 are a mix of yellow and lime.
Summers Meadow (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Summers Meadow (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

  • Virginia Lakes (9,770′)  – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Conway Summit (8,143′) – Patchy – (10 – 50%) – On the verge of a “go now” designation but still mostly green and lime green.
 
  • Green Creek (7,500′) Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! The hike to Green Lake is peak to past peak while colors around the campground and along Green Creek Road will be perfect this week. 
 
  • Summers Meadow Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Foliage along the mountain side are full red and orange while the colors along the road will be perfect in about 7-10 days.
Lobdell Lake Road (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Rd (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Rodruigez Flat (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Rodruigez Flat (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker River Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker River Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker River Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Little Walker Rd (9/29/16) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Road (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Rd (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Road (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Rd (10/2/16) Jeff Simpson

LEE VINING 

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Lee Vining Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Lee Vining Canyon is still very green but the upper elevations around Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake and Saddlebag Lake are in prime viewing condition.
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Still a little early around the lake and campground. Lundy falls and the beaver ponds are at full peak and will be a perfect hike for this weekend..
  • BENTON & 120 EAST 
  • Sagehen Meadow – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

JUNE LAKE AREA

  • Parker Lake (8,313′) – Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak GO NOW! or YOU MISSED IT! – This is the weekend to go to Parker Lake. Take the Parker Bench Trail from Silver Lake Resort for a more difficult but worthy fall color experience.
Kevin Lennox reports the hike to the lake (2 miles) was past peak, but once at the lake, a rolling peak was occurring where some aspen were still green or lime, while others were yellow and orange. Color at Parker Lake will likely last another week, though don’t delay as “conditions are progressing fast.”
  • Laurel Canyon (8,500′) – Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak GO NOW! or YOU MISSED IT! – Some areas of Laurel Canyon are now past peak, though large areas of color remain in the aspen groves along the middle section of this 4WD road (high clearance vehicles required or hike it).
  • Little Walker Road and Lake – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – The Little Walker Lake Road is still a week from full peak. Leaves are turning yellow with patchy lime greens still present. HIKE OF THE WEEK – If you are up for a steep hike, take the trail to Sardine Lake where aspen are in full color.
  • Silver Lake, June Lake Loop – Patchy (10-50%) – Fall color is starting to spill down from the surrounding hillsides onto the June Lake Loop. Many sections are just starting to turn over to lime green and yellow with few groves ahead of the pack. The aspen grove that lines the western shore at Silver Lake is just starting to shift and should be at full peak within the next ten days, in time for the #SilverLakeInstameet on Oct. 15. 

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK  

  • McGee Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! The hike to the beaver ponds and beyond are prime for fall color while its still a little patchy around the campground and pack station.

ROCK CREEK CANYON

  • Upper Rock Creek (10,300′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! Peak to past peak around the lake and in the high elevation areas. This will be the last few days to catch the color around the lake.
  • Middle Rock Creek Road – Peak (75-100%) Go Now! Colors along the road and in the campgrounds are at peak color and will be perfect this weekend.

LOWER RATINGS

  • Patchy (10 – 50%) – Mammoth Lakes Basin, Mammoth Creek Rd., Convict Lake and Canyon, Lower Rock Creek
  • Just Starting (0-10%) – Walker Canyon, Towns of Walker/Coleville, Twin Lakes, June Lake Loop/Hwy 168, Convict Lake Resort/Campground, Crowley Lake, Lower Rock Creek.
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Weather To Go or Not

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Mark Finan and Eileen Javora, KCRA-TV3

Two of my favorite meteorologists to watch are Mark Finan and Eileen Javora of KCRA-TV3 (NBC) in Sacramento. They aren’t just spot-on accurate meteorologists, they’re fans of fall color, too.

I suppose that comes with the job. As, how would you otherwise immerse yourself in analyzing the weather and predicting it, without also becoming fascinated by the turn of seasons?

Mark moved from meteorologist to color spotter this past weekend, driving a long loop in search of inspiration (and there is much of it along this drive), east from Sacramento over Carson and Monitor passes, then south along the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway over Conway Summit and past Mono Lake, June Lake and Mammoth Lakes, to Convict Lake and back… all to see what’s developing.

Like others who have visited the area, he notes that most of the well-known fall color locations along the route remain mostly green or lime (Caples Lake, CA-88; Monitor Pass, CA-89; June Lake and Convict Lake), though promising yellow is emerging at the highest elevations: (above Mono Lake and on individual trees at June Lake).

For those judging whether to head to the east side or not, it is still a bit early, though emerging color can be seen and it will continue to improve through the last two weeks of September, particularly at the highest elevations.

How’s that for a forecast?