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Waterfall Hike – Lundy Canyon

Lundy Canyon (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

Lundy Canyon (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

Lundy Canyon (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

Sagehen Summit, (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

Mono Lake, (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

Hiking Lundy Canyon combines fall color and waterfalls, providing for a very scenic and exhilarating fall color adventure.

Darrell Sano spent Friday in Mono County hiking the long, enjoyable trail up Lundy Canyon to its beautiful waterfalls, and still had time to visit Sagehen Summit and watch the sun set over Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra.

The Lundy Canyon hike begins in Patchy, green, lime and yellow aspen, continuing through “pockets of color.” to areas with barren trees stripped of color. Overall, the trail is Patchy. This will likely be Near Peak next week.

At Sagehen Meadows, pockets of peak color remain among wind-swept aspen. Though, the area has lost a lot of color and is declining. 

  • Lundy Canyon (7,858′) – Patchy (10-50%)
  • Sagehen Summit (8,139′) – Peak to Past Peak – GO NOW or YOU ALMOST MISSED IT!

Eastern Sierra Sunset, (10/5/18) Darrell Sano

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Blonds or Redheads?

Dunderberg Rd., Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Summit, Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Virginia Lakes, Mono County (9/29/18) Bruce Wendler

Do gentlemen prefer blonds or redheads?

When it comes to deciding between red or yellow autumn leaves, it’s a toss-up.

Bruce Wendler visited Sagehen Summit, the Virginia Lakes and Dunderberg Road, finding beautiful blonds, redheads and even  trendy orange-frosted trees.

Though, he cautions, Sagehen is now almost Past Peak, the same at Virginia Lakes.  Though still peaking, go immediately or you’ll miss it.

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/29/18) Douglas Van Kirk

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon (9/29/18) Douglas Van Kirk

Douglas Van Kirk found the “fiery” redheads climbing the slope beyond North Lake to be “Absolutely beautiful.” While, their blond relations at lake level were “just starting.”

North Lake appears to be about what it did last year, getting hot upstairs while still warming downstairs.

On his return (Sunday), Bruce found Tioga Pass still open (it often remains open until November) with more red to be seen along the west shore of Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park. 

Dunderberg Rd (7,500′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Sagehen Summit (8,139′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,770′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!

North Lake, Bishop Creek Canyon – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park (8,150′) – Peak  (75-100%) GO NOW! – Shrubs and ground covers are at peak.

North Lake (9/28/18) Larry Salmi

North Lake (9/30/18) Bruce Wendler

Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park (9/30/18) Bruce Wendler

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More Orange Than Sunkist

Sagehen Summit (9/25/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Mono County has listed four locations as must-see fall color destinations for the weekend: Lobdell Lake Road, Rock Creek Road, Virginia Lakes Road and Sagehen Summit, with more orange to be seen than at Sunkist Growers. (Click on photos to enlarge)

Aspen, Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes (9/20/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Angler, Virginia Lakes (9/20/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Virginia Lakes (9/20/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/25/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/25/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Monitor Pass (9/21/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Little Antelope Pack Station (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – “Sagehen Summit, in particular, has never been more brilliant as deep oranges and reds are currently covering the mountain from top to bottom.” Mono County’s Jeff Simpson urges, “head to this location first, as the colors won’t last much longer.

“Virginia Lakes Road and Rock Creek Road are at full peak along the upper sections of the roads. If you’re driving to Virginia Lakes, consider taking Dunderberg Meadows road to Green Creek for additional groves of quaking aspens. (AWD is recommended for this dirt road).

“Lobdell Lake Road is a lesser known destination off of Burcham Flat Road between Bridgeport and Walker.” Jeff says, “You’ll find full groves of oranges and reds near the top while yellows and greens are plentiful at the bottom. (AWD is recommended for this dirt road.)”

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – “Sonora Pass and Tioga Pass are both showing significant change in the upper elevations,” Simpson continues. “You’ll find peaking groves of aspens along the tops of the passes and at turnouts along the road. Some sections are still green the closer you get to US 395. Golden Gate Mine Road out of Walker/Coleville was absolutely brilliant earlier this week. Take this road to Little Antelope Pack Station at Rodriguez Flat for panorama views of yellows and oranges in the mountains above. (AWD is Recommended for this dirt road.) Book a pack trip or take a hike up Correl Valley Trailhead for additional viewing.” 

Aspen, Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/24/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Walker/Coleville/Topaz

  • Monitor Pass (8,314′) Patchy (10-50%)
  • Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Full peaking colors at the top with green/yellow leaves at the bottom. Colors should be great here for the next 10 days.
  • Walker Canyon (5,200′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Towns of Walker & Coleville- Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Sonora Pass (9,623′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) GO NOW! – Still patchy in places but great near the top of the pass.

Bridgeport/Virginia Lakes

  • Twin Lakes (7,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Virginia Lakes (9,819’) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Great color along the road and at lake level. Still green near the Conway Summit turnoff. Take Dunderberg Meadows Road to Green Creek Road for additional groves of color. (AWD is recommended)
  • Conway Summit (8,143)- Just Starting (0-10%) – Still mostly green with a few yellow trees. A good 7-10 days away from a recommendation.
  • Summers Meadow (7,200′)- Just Starting (0-10%) – Still mostly green along the road with some reds visible at the highest elevations.

Lee Vining

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) GO NOW! – Patchy in sections, especially at lower elevations. Saddlebag Lake Road should be your best bet.
  • Lee Vining Canyon (6,781′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Benton & 120 East

  • Sagehen Summit (8,139’) –Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! -Unbelievable color there, right now. Go as soon as you can, as this will be the first location to go Past Peak. Then, you’ll be kicking yourself because YOU MISSED IT!

June Lake Loop

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Parker Lake (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Mammoth Lakes

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Patchy (10-50%) – There is significan color change occurring in the Lakes Basin. Laurel Canyon looks fantastic from US 395 if you want to make the hike or off-road drive (OHV required).

Crowley Lake/McGee Creek/Convict Lake

  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Patchy (10-50) – Colors look fantastic in the upper elevations from US 395. Green trees are still present near the road at US 395.
  • Around Crowley community (6,781′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Convict Lake (7850′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Rock Creek Canyon

  • Rock Creek Road (9,600’) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now! -Full peak around the lake and down the road. Still green near US 395.

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Virginia Lakes – GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes Rd. at sunrise (9/21/18) Bruce Wendler

Sagehen Meadows Rd (9/21/18) Bruce Wendler

As Bruce Wendler assessed in his message, today, Virginia Lakes is a location when you’re never completely sure it’s peaking or heading toward Past Peak.

That’s because many of the aspen near the lakes are exposed, wind deformed and struggling.  It almost looks as if a wildfire came through, though one hasn’t.

He was there at sunrise this morning, to snap stands that are in the 70% range and dropping leaves as soon as they’ve peaked.

Bruce recommends visiting Virginia Lakes soon, as he believes the aspen there are vulnerable to losing leaves quickly.

Sagehen Meadow (9/21/18) Bruce Wendler

His photos of Sagehen Summit were more encouraging with lots of orange to be enjoyed and trees yet to develop. The shot at left was taken a half mile up the road from Sagehen Meadow. Also good is Wild Horse Meadow, about a mile away from the summit. 

Virginia Lakes – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Sagehen Summit – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW!

Sagehen Summit (9/21/18) Bruce Wendler

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Mono County Posts California’s First “Go Now!”

Rock Creek Lake (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Sagehen Summit (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Lake (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Rock Creek Lake (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

Jeff Simpson of Mono County Tourism is exclaiming, “What a difference a week makes!”

He has the enviable job of touring his Eastern Sierra county each week during autumn to report on the state of fall color and was thrilled to declare the first Near Peak color for California forests.

While fall color has been developing gradually elsewhere and some Peak and Near Peak color has been reported for grasses and shrubs, Mono County’s Sagehen Summit and Rock Creek Lake are the first forest areas suddenly Near Peak and predicted to fully peak within a week.

Jeff attributes the emerging peak color to colder night temperatures in the Eastern Sierra.

The perimeter of Rock Creek Lake is splashed with lime, yellow, orange and red Quaking Aspen. Follow trails around the lake and toward Hilton Creek  and the Little Lakes Valley to be immersed in it.

The lower sections of Rock Creek Canyon remain Just Starting, though Jeff says a few yellow trees are found around the East Fork Campground area.

Last autumn, Sagehen Summit was a big “wow” and it appears the show has returned to Sagehen with a gradient colors to be seen, from red atop the summit, to deep orange down slope, to deep green at the base of the road.

Jeff admits that Sagehen is “still a little ripe,” but forsees  improvement over this weekend.

Simpson scores a First Report (the first report posted on this site about any given location) by recommending continuing to drive Sagehen Meadows Road to “Johnny Meadows for additional groves of aspens and fall color viewing.”

Still developing are Monitor Pass, Sonora Pass, Lobdell Lake Road, Virginia Lakes and Tioga Pass. Jeff writes that “Each of these areas have great sections of color but are still too patchy for a full endorsement.” 

Rock Creek Lake (9/19/18) Jeff Simpson/Mono County Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From north to south along US 395 in Mono Çounty, here’s what you’ll see.

Walker/Coleville/Topaz

  • Monitor Pass (8,314′) Patchy (10-50%)
  • Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Patchy (10-50%) – Burcham Flat Rd. is now open to through traffic only, with no stopping in the Boot Fire burn area.
  • Walker Canyon (5,200′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Towns of Walker & Coleville- Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Sonora Pass (9,623′) – 10-50% Patchy

Bridgeport/Virginia Lakes

  • Twin Lakes (7,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Virginia Lakes (9,819’) – Patchy (10-50%)  – Approaching Near Peak.
  • Conway Summit (8,143)- Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Summers Meadow (7,200′)- Just Starting (0-10%)

Lee Vining

  • Tioga Pass (9,943′) Patchy (10-50%)
  • Lee Vining Canyon (6,781′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Benton & 120 East

  • Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now! – Peak color at the top with vibrant reds with yellows and greens abundant at the lower levels around the road.

June Lake Loop

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Parker Lake (8,000′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Mammoth Lakes

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Crowley Lake/McGee Creek/Convict Lake

  • McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Around Crowley community (6,781′) – Just Starting (0-10%)
  • Convict Lake (7850′) – Just Starting (0-10%)

Rock Creek Canyon

  • Rock Creek Road (9,600’) – Near Peak (50-75%) Go Now! – Full peak color around the lake and in the trail heads of Hilton Creek and Little Lakes Valley. Patchy below Rock Creek Lodge and green below East Fork Campground.

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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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Reluctant Aspen in Mono County

Quaking Aspen, Virginia Lakes (9/19/17) Jeff Simpson

Jeff Simpson tells us that the aspen in Mono County “seem a little reluctant to let go of summer.” Like other areas of the Eastern High Sierra, peak color is delayed about a week.

“There is some lovely color beginning along the upper section of Rock Creek Road, Virginia Lakes Road, Lobdell Lake Road and Sagehen Summit. For hikers, there is some great color about 2 miles up McGee Canyon Trail above the first creek crossing. These locations will be the first to show color and will be perfect in the next 5-7 days,” Jeff reports.

And, while the trees are slow in turning color, lots of wildflowers are still blooming near 10,000′, particularly along creek beds in the Saddlebag Lake/Sawmill Campground area.

Virginia Lakes (9/19/17) Jeff Simpson

Sagehen Meadow (9/20/17) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (9/19/17) Alicia Vennos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) – 10-50% Patchy – The leaves are just starting to turn lime green with the exception of a few early achievers like this grove located near the parking lot of Big Virginia Lake. (And yes, that’s still snow on the mountain from last winter!) For more adventurous leaf peepers with AWD or 4WD vehicles, take the Dunderberg Meadow Road to Sinnamon Meadows and Green Creek for additional aspen groves and views of Conway Summit.

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – 10-50% Patchy – Sagehen Summit is the closest to a “Go Now” designation in Mono County. Sagehen Meadow is showing a mixture of greens, yellows and oranges with nearby Johnny Meadow equally as close. This will be your best shot at peak colors over the next week.

Upper Rock Creek (9,600’) – 10-50% Patchy – Color is just starting to show up around Rock Creek lake but should be really getting pretty early next week. Take the Mosquito Flats trail, Hilton & Davis Lakes Trail or Tamarack Bench Trail into higher elevations for more color.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (9/19/17) Jeff Simpson

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600”) – 10-50% Patchy – Lobdell Lake Road was just getting started on Tuesday with mostly green and lime green foliage. Plan to see the colors here in about 10 days! Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended.

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – 10-50% Patchy – For hikers, there is some great color about 2 miles up McGee Canyon Trail above the first creek crossing. Leaves around the campground and US 395 are still green.

Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map (2017)

CLICK HERE for a .pdf of the new California’s Eastern Sierra Fall Color Map for Inyo and Mono Counties.