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Blood Red Aspen Drip Across Conway Summit

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Conway Summit (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

How’s that for a Halloween headline?

When we received the above photo of a plethora of peaked aspen oozing across a gully atop Conway Summit, macabre thoughts of haunted forests, delightfully possessed with crimson fall color, came to mind.

After all, it’s the time of year when things go bump in the night, or is it that aspen generate intense color during the night?

Mono County fall color sorceress Alicia Vennos looked into her crystal ball before reporting, “It’s now or never.” She hints that this could be the last weekend to see such color in the Eastern Sierra. By the following weekend, much of it will likely be gone.

If you’re an experienced trick or treater, you know which houses give out the big chocolate bars and which give bags of mini carrots.  The same is true of fall color. Some areas are worth visiting, while others, well, the carrots are more tasty.

For those heading to Mono County this weekend, must stops are the June Lake Loop in its entirety, Mammoth Creek, Lower Rock Creek Road and trail, lower Tioga Pass Road, lower Lundy Lake Road, Conway Summit between Lee Vining and Bridgeport, and the West Walker River.

But, hurry, as snow is expected to dust surrounding peaks.  That provides a photogenic contrast to the gold, orange and red among the aspen, though it could also trick the trees to drop their leaves.  No treat.

Silver Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake Campground (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake Campground (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Mono Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Mono Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

West Walker River (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

West Walker River (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

West Walker River (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

West Walker River (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Road to Lobdell Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Road to Lobdell Lake (10/27/15) Alicia Vennos

Here’s Alicia’s latest (and perhaps last) report:

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Lower Rock Creek – For a lovely Creekside hike amidst glowing aspens, take the Lower Rock Creek trail. Start from the top parking lot, near the US 395 junction, and walk down for about 2 miles. It’s uphill on the way back, but the different light through the trees makes it equally enjoyable. Road work along Rock Creek Road is finished and the smooth drive through still-lovely color is enjoyable. Tom’s Place holds a Halloween Costume Party on Oct. 31.  Lower Rock Creek Road and the mountain bike/hiking trail have some nice spots of color but they are still a week or so before peak.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – McGee Creek, Convict Lake.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Mammoth Creek/Old Mammoth Road.  Mammoth Creek is shining brightly with orange, gold and reds, right now.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158.  The Loop should not be missed right now — the color is pretty much perfect the entire way around Hwy. 158.

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Lee Vining Canyon/Lower Tioga Pass Road. Poole Plant Road, close to the bottom of Tioga Pass Road, is getting very close to going off. It’s a matter of days now before it is perfect.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Lundy Canyon, especially lower Lundy Lake Road, around Lundy Lake itself, and at the first waterfall lookout on the trail.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Conway Summit.  This spectacular hillside of aspens shines under snow-covered Dunderberg Peak and some of the groves are literally blood red.  This can be seen right from US 395 and the pull-outs but always use caution when exiting and re-entering the highway.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – West Walker River – The river is now lined with mostly golden foliage, and Devil’s Gate, just north of Bridgeport, is perfect, right now. The Burcham Flat Road out of Walker to Lobdell Lake has a few patches of color left, though it’s pretty much past peak. Add this to your bucket list to visit during the first two weeks of October next autumn (can you believe we’re already talking about next year?), as the groves of aspens in this part of northern Mono County are prolific and, backed by an alpine setting, lovely.

Halloween Parties: Tom’s Place (Rock Creek); Heidelberg Inn, June Lake.

Trick or Treating for Kids: The “Trails” neighborhood in Mammoth Lakes is closed to traffic from 5-9 p.m. on Halloween for community trick or treating… Everyone is welcome!

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