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Glorious Color Emerges in Mono County

Sagehen Meadows (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

(Mono County – 10/4/17) – Peak is approaching at several viewing locations in Mono County, Jeff Simpson reports. We visited prime areas throughout Mono County today to find great color in the higher canyons.

Sagehen Meadows (10/4/17) Daniel Danzig

To the east of US 395, on a mountain area area that gets less water than the Sierra Nevada, Sagehen Meadows is at Peak and glorious. If you’ve not visited this remote place, take CA-120 (south of Mono Lake) 14 miles east to Sagehen Summit. Turn onto Sagehen Meadows Rd. and continue three miles south along a dirt road to Sagehen Meadows.

A dirt parking area at Sagehen can hold four cars and there’s a fairly steady stream of dusty cars pulling in for the view of venerable hot-red, flame orange and yellow-flecked aspen. They’re so old, they look as if they were there when the Sierra were made.

To the west, snowy peaks within Yosemite National Park are seen.  It’s a great place for contemplation, inspiration and a picnic.

Elsewhere in Mono County, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Rd., Convict Lake, Laurel Canyon Rd. (OHV), Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road and Lobdell Lake Road are all transitioning from Patchy to Near Peak. They should all be increasingly brilliant each of the coming 7-10 days.

Many areas like the West Walker River, Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon and the June Lake Loop are just getting started but still have sections of great foliage and are worth visiting this weekend.

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Peak (75-100%) Sagehen Summit has been at peak color for the last 5 days and is rapidly nearing past peak. You’ll still find sections of good color with dark crimson, reds and oranges, while other areas are going Past Peak. Sagehen Summit will still be great for the next few days but it will likely be gone after the coming weekend. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Rd. (7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Towering black cottonwood along Lower Rock Creek Rd – leading to and beyond the Mono/Inyo County line and into Round Valley – are crowned in gold and should continue to glow for the next three weeks.

Rock Creek Road (9,000′ to 10,300’) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – There’s wonderful color to be found along the lower section of Rock Creek Rd., with sections of great yellows and oranges, though the tale of all Sierra color areas is that large stands of Just Starting and Patchy aspen are there, too. The areas along Rock Creek Lake are best in midday light. Aspen in the Little Lakes Valley are peaking. GO NOW!

McGee Creek Campground (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

McGee Creek Canyon (10/4/17) Terry Rightmire

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – The aspen and cottonwood along McGee Creek Rd are crowned with golden color, providing for a stunning show. Hike Of The Week: walk a mile beyond road’s end toward the peaks beyond to pass through golden aspen groves and a mountain hillside that is painted with chartreuse majesty (as seen in Terry Rightmire’s image). GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) Patchy (10-50%) – Willows and aspen ringing the lake are patchy with large areas of emerging golden color. The aspen at the end of the lake are about 25% turned, so the show will continue to improve at Convict Lake for another two weeks. 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.

 

Conway Summit (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

Conway Summit, north slope (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

Conway Summit (8,143′) – Patchy to Near Peak (10-75%) – Some color spotters say Conway Summit is peaking, but with the amount of green still in the aspen groves, it’s a truly more of a mix of High Patchy to Full Peak. Nevertheless the overall impression takes one’s breath away. There are bold stands of yellow and orange while others are patches of lime and green. When you cross the summit, note that the aspen on the south slope have further along than those on the north slope. GO NOW!

Gull Lake (10/4/17) John Poimiroo

June Lake Loop – Patchy (10-50%) – Bright yellow aspen mixed with lime and dark green are seen along the edges of June, Gull, Silver and Grant Lakes, as well as beside the June Lake Loop.

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Much of Summers Meadow is patchy, though some individual stands have brilliant color. The massive elevation change on the mountain means these trees will be peaking at different times over the next two weeks.  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.

Summers Meadow (10/4/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Lots has changed here from last week but Lobdell Lake is still well short of Peak. You’ll find sections of peak color while other areas are still fully green. This is a perfect spot for portrait photography or anyone wanting to do close ups of isolated sections of trees. Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended.

 

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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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Peaking High in Mono County – Go Now!

Lobdell Lake (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

“Fall colors are exploding in the higher elevations,” reports Mono County color spotter Jeff Simpson.

Parker Lake Rd. (9/27/16) Mono County Tourism

Parker Lake Rd. (9/27/16) Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes Rd. (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes Rd. (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Sonora Pass (9/23/16) Mono County Tourism

Sonora Pass (9/23/16) Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Rd. (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Rd. (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Monitor Pass (9/22/16) Mono County Tourism

Monitor Pass (9/22/16) Mono County Tourism

McGee Creek (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

McGee Creek (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Lundy Canyon (9/27/16) Mono County Tourism

Lundy Canyon (9/27/16) Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Green Creek (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Green Creek (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Dunderberg Meadow (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

Dunderberg Meadow (9/26/16) Mono County Tourism

He calls Virginia Lakes, Dunderberg Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake, and Rock Creek as being at full peak and urges, “Go Now!”

Other locations worthy of viewing this week include Sonora Pass, Green Green, and the higher elevations of Tioga Pass.

Hikers should focus their energy on the Parker Lake (Hike of the Week), Walker Lake, Laurel Canyon, Green Lake, and Rock Creek trailheads. For fabulous fly fishing, head to Little Walker Lake.

Areas like Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, and the June Lake Loop are just starting to show color and will be ready soon.

If you have not begun planning a fall color trip, do so now, as the Eastern Sierra will have rolling peaks for at least the coming three weeks, at varying elevations. CLICK HERE to read Mono County’s detailed report.

Lobdell Lake (9,200′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Colors are absolutely stunning along the road to Lobdell Lake off Burcham Flat Road. 

Virginia Lakes (9,770′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Colors are at full peak along Virginia Lakes Road and around Virginia Lakes. Take the Dunderberg Meadow Road towards Green Creek for wonderful red groves in Cinnamon Meadow. Swing by the Virginia Lakes Resort for breakfast or lunch before they close on October 11th.

Upper Rock Creek (10,300′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – These high elevation areas are exploding with brilliant yellows and a few oranges. Swing by Rock Creek Lake Resort  for breakfast or lunch after you enjoy the colorful drive.

Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – A mix of colors depending on elevation and location. A full peak near the top of Sonora Pass while still very patchy around Leavitt Meadows.

Green Creek (7,500′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – The hike to Green Lake is at full peak while colors around the campground and along Green Creek Road are patchy.

Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – The upper elevations around Tioga Lake, Ellery Lake and Saddlebag Lake are in prime viewing condition.

Parker Lake (8,313′) – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – HIKE OF THE WEEK – The next 10 days are going to be brilliant at Parker Lake. Take the Parker Bench Trail (7,772′) from Silver Lake Resort for a more difficult but worthy fall color experience. The lake is overshadowed by 12,000′ peaks of the Sierra Crest.

Little Walker Lake – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Just starting to turn yellow with patchy lime greens around the lake. Carry a fly rod, barbless flies and a license for catch-and-release ecstasy fishing for bows, brookies, kamloops and browns.

Laurel Canyon (8,500′) -Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – If you’re looking for fall color that’s off-the-beaten-path, Josh Wray of Mammoth Lakes recommends nearby Laurel Canyon. Unlike many of the Eastern Sierra’s color hotspots, Laurel Canyon’s aspen grove cannot be driven to on a paved road. Instead, the only ways to get there are by a hardy, high-clearance 4WD vehicle, by horse or by hiking. To get to the best views, you’ll take an at-times steep, narrow, winding road of gravel, dirt and small rocks. As seen in the following video, Josh chose to get to the groves by walking Laurel Canyon’s beautiful, winding road. Midway up the trail is where the most-vibrant fall colors can be seen. Only patchy color is found in the upper and lower areas. Laurel Canyon should show bright color for another two weeks. Now, sit back and enjoy Josh’s video stroll through Laurel Creek’s aspen.

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Patchy (10 – 50%) – Conway Summit, Green Creek Rd., Lundy Lake and Canyon, Summer’s Meadow, Mammoth Lakes Basin, Mammoth Creek Rd., Convict Lake and Canyon, McGee Creek

Just Starting (0-10%) – Walker Canyon, Towns of Walker/Coleville, Twin Lakes, June Lake Loop, Convict Lake Resort/Campground, Crowley Lake, Lower Rock Creek.

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