Full Peak Above 9,000′ – GO NOW!

Sabrina Approach (9/30/16) Kevin Lennox

Sabrina Approach (9/30/16) Kevin Lennox

It’s peaking at the highest elevations in Bishop Creek Canyon (Inyo County) and that has color spotters wondering if autumn is arriving early. Actually, it’s right on time.

It always seems early when areas above 9,000′ in the Eastern Sierra peak in September, but that’s actually quite normal. Lake Sabrina, South Lake and North Lake often peak before October.

Kevin Lennox, a color spotter from Pasadena, was there today and assessed North Lake as Past Peak. Here’s what you’re likely to see this weekend:

Overall Conditions Above 8,500’ – Peak (75-100%) – It’s time to head to Bishop Creek Canyon to see high areas of the canyon at peak. All the highest areas are peaking, some are being reported as approaching Past Peak.

Overall Conditions Between 7,500’ and 8,500’ – Just Starting (0%-10%) to Patchy (10-50%) – Most of the lower canyon is still just starting, though areas between 8,000 and 8,500 are still patchy or just starting at the lowest elevations.

Weir Pond (9,650’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The canyon wall above the pond are peaking with yellow and some orange. Aspen around the pond’s shoreline are now more yellow than lime.

Parchers Resort (9,260’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The canyon walls to the east and west of the resort are brightly painted with yellow, orange and rose, as are many of the aspen on the resort grounds.

Willow Campground (9,000’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – This area has really developed in the past week with yellow filling in. Views up canyon from the campground are beautiful but the campground and the aspen lining the road and the beaver pond are a mix of lime and fresh yellow.

Table Mountain Camp (8,900’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The mountainside just down canyon from the campground is covered with brilliant yellow and a touch of orange. The aspen along the creek are now filling in with lime and yellow.

Surveyors Meadow (8,975’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – Surveyor’s meadow is gorgeous, though there are still many more stands to turn. This area should remain at peak for two weeks (conditions permitting).

Lake Sabrina (9,150’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – Lots of orange color can be seen at the lake along the back slopes that descend to the lake and along the eastern shoreline. The highest color will likely not last another week.

Sabrina Approach (9,100’) – Peak (75-100%) – The approach to Sabrina and the small ponds below the dam are full of bright orange and yellow aspen.

Sabrina Campground Area (9,000’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The aspen along Hwy 168 are going off in a big way right now and are at peak.

North Lake (9,255’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The approach to the lake and the groves on the mountainside above the lake are now at low peak color. More yellow is appearing along the road, though it will be another week to full peak on North Lake Road.

Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8,350’) – Patchy (10-50%) – Yellow is filling in.

Aspendell (8,400’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%) Cold nights have pushed the color, with a lot more yellow appearing in this neighborhood.

Groves above Cardinal Village (8,550’) – Peak ( 75-100%) GO NOW! – The canyon slope from above Cardinal Village up to Cardinal Pinnacle is at peak. More lime and yellow are now showing near the middle fork of Bishop Creek and surrounding Cardinal Village; give it another week for peak color there.

Four Jeffries (8,000’) – Just Starting (0 – 10%) – Still scattered yellow branches.

Intake II (8,000’) – Patchy – (10 – 50%) – Lime and yellow, scrub aspen on the hillside have turned.

Big Trees Campground (7,800’) – Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Still green

4 replies
  1. Julie Kirby says:

    Just to show the difference a year makes, here’s a photo I took on September 25, 2015, five days earlier than Kevin Lennox’s photo taken in the same place. It looks to me like the color this year is earlier than last. Yes?

    • John Poimiroo says:

      Peak color can last from a day to two weeks, depending on many varying conditions, including: water (subterranean water is often a factor), wind, when the peak color was reported, etc.

      When you see an area being reported as Near Peak, GO NOW! As, peak could happen immediately thereafter and if you wait a week, it could be gone by the time you visit. The higher the elevation, the sooner and shorter the peak.

      However, areas with rolling peaks (peaking color while stands of trees are showing green and lime), can peak over an extended period… two weeks.

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