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Bishop Creek Continues To Deliver

Intake II, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/23/15) Gary Young Photography

Intake II, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/23/15) Gary Young Photography

Hwy 168,  Bishop Creek Canyon (10/23/15) Gary Young Photography

Hwy 168, Bishop Creek Canyon (10/23/15) Gary Young Photography

Color spotter Gary Young of Bishop headed up the Bishop Creek Canyon yesterday and sent back these images of Intake II and Hwy 168 between Intake II and Aspendell.

Though the canyon is largely past peak, pockets of color provide beautiful imagery, as Gary found.

Intake II is one of those locations that most people visiting Bishop Creek often ignore, because it is late to turn, but it is the overlooked places that deliver some of the best images.

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Mono County: The Show Goes On

Mammoth Creek (10/20/15) Greg Newbry

Mammoth Creek (10/20/15) Greg Newbry

This past week in Mono County brought a mix of snow, rain, sun and clouds, but with little to no wind, meaning that autumn color continues to light up the Eastern Sierra.

Color spotter Alicia Vennos writes, “The icing on top of it all is the fresh topping of snow on Eastern Sierra peaks that is providing a stunning contrast to the golden color.”

This weekend and next promise to be epic for photographers and leaf peepers on the East Side, as the short-term weather forecast is for sunny skies.

Photos are posted at californiafallcolor.com and on a video posted by Mono County Tourism VLOG host, Jeff Simpson at https://youtu.be/QmzUrxXdaI0.

Convict Lake (10/16/15) Charles Porter

Convict Lake (10/16/15) Charles Porter

Convict Lake (10/21/15) Charles Porter

Convict Lake (10/21/15) Charles Porter

Conway Summit (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Convict Creek Below Outlet (10/21/15) Charles Porter

Convict Creek Below Outlet (10/21/15) Charles Porter

Mammoth Rock, Old Mammoth Rd (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Mammoth Rock, Old Mammoth Rd (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Old Mammoth Rd (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Old Mammoth Rd (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Tioga Rd (10/19/15)

Tioga Rd (10/19/15)

Lower Tioga Rd (10/19/15) Alicia Vennos

Lower Tioga Rd (10/19/15) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Canyon (10/20/15) Josh Wray

Lundy Canyon (10/20/15) Josh Wray

Silver Lake (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (10/18/15) Alicia Vennos

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Rock Creek – Color has endured throughout this area, though is now moving down the canyon. Lower Rock Creek Road and the mountain bike/hiking trail have some nice spots of color but they still a week short of peak. Tom’s Place, a local hangout, has taken on the colors of its surrounding trees, as it prepares its annual Halloween costume party on Oct. 31.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – McGee Creek – Aspen lining the creek, just below the road, are thick with color; those along the first mile or two on the hiking trail are also prime, or close.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Convict Canyon/Convict Lake – The entire canyon is now peaking. Colors from top to bottom are spectacular. The foliage is showing yellows, bright gold and, recently, more orange. Conditions permitting, it should remain at peak for another week. Hike of the Week is the 3-mile trail around Convict lake. Aspens that fill the campground are brilliant against the dramatic mountain backdrop. Locals rate this as one of the prettiest places in Mono County to camp.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Mammoth Creek/Old Mammoth Road – Aspen are yellow, golden and orange with red highlights along the trail beside Mammoth Creek from where Hwy. 203 nears the exit onto US 305 (south). This area will be glorious this weekend with possibly another week to go.

Near Peak (50-75%) – June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158 – The June Lake Loop is, in places, a boulevard flanked by peaking yellow and golden aspen. Some areas of lime remain, though the Loop is Near Peak in many places, particularly between Silver Lake and Grant Lake. The aspen around Gull Lake and June Lake are still a week from peak color. Parker Lake and Walker Lake, off the north end of the Loop offer varying degrees of bright color and short, sweet hikes. LA Leaf Peeper was one of the many color spotters who followed our direction and headed to the Loop for an “AMAZING” weekend.  Here’s a snap LAFP took with a cell phone, a little different than Alicia’s.

The Heidelberg Inn in June Lake was once a favored destination of Hollywood celebrities; on Oct. 31, this glamorous old inn opens its doors for a Halloween tour and party.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Tioga Pass

Patchy (10-50%) – Lower Lee Vining Canyon – The lower part of Tioga Pass Road, near US 395, has some photogenic aspen groves, though Poole Plant Road continues to hang on to its green wardrobe. Log Cabin Road is almost past peak at the cabin level with one serene stretch still golden and photogenic. (This area is not gated but it is private property and has long been an animal and bird sanctuary; please tread softly).

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Lundy Canyon – Don’t give up. While aspen along the first part of the Lundy Canyon trail are past peak, at the first waterfall are found an iconic gold-rust-yellow-orange blend of color. Higher up, the color is spent.

BRIDGEPORT / CONWAY SUMMIT

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Conway Summit – What is remarkable is that while large groves of aspen have peaked, there are so many layers of color here, this year, that Conway Summit continues to look incredible. Some big stands are still a patchy mix of yellow and lime.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Virginia Lakes.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Green Creek/Summers Meadow – Summers Meadow has lost a lot of its color, though, like Conway Summit, layering and depth of color still keep the Green Creek/Summers Meadow area worth visiting.

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Monitor Pass/Sonora Pass – It’s gone at the highest elevations.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Leavitt Meadows – Still golden.

Patchy (10-50%) – Walker Canyon/West Walker River/Towns of Walker & Coleville – This is one of the last areas of Mono County to change. For anglers, the West Walker River is flowing nicely as a result of recent rain, though leaf peepers and photographers won’t find much fall color for another two weeks.

Silver Lake (10/18/15) LA Leaf Peeper

Silver Lake (10/18/15) LA Leaf Peeper

 

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It’s Happening Big Time in Mono County

June Lake Loop (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

When Alicia Vennos starts screaming “WoooooHooooo!,” as she did in today’s report, you know you’re gonna be up late posting it.

Sure ‘nough, Mono County is at peak or approaching it.  There are so many GO NOW! alerts in this report, that, well, the best advice I have is to just pack your bags for the weekend. And, the good news it’ll last for a week or two longer, given the weather doesn’t get blustery.

That’s a concern, as some precip is forecast for the weekend. Ugh!  So, GO NOW!, GO NOW!, GO NOW!

Laurel Creek (10/13/15) Alicia Vennos

Laurel Creek (10/13/15) Alicia Vennos

OK, I know, not everyone can go now, and if you do visit on the weekend, though it will be truly fall weather, there’ll also be openings of wonderful soft light to accent the color.  Here’s what’s happening…

 

June Lake Loop (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

June Lake Loop (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Gull Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Tioga Pass (10/8/15) Jeff Simpson

Tioga Pass (10/8/15) Jeff Simpson

Lundy Falls (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Falls (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Beaver Pond (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Lundy Beaver Pond (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Mono Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Mono Lake (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Conway Summit (10/14/15) Alicia Vennos

Dunderberg Meadow (10/12/14) Robin K. Roberts

Dunderberg Meadow (10/12/14) Robin K. Roberts

Summers Meadow (10/12/15) Robin K. Roberts

Summers Meadow (10/12/15) Robin K. Roberts

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Rock Creek – Most of Rock Creek Road is gorgeous and golden.  The newly paved road makes for a smooth and lovely ride both for motorists and cyclists.  Lower Rock Creek Road and trail which should be peaking within a week to 10 days, so expect this peak to continue for perhaps two weeks.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – McGee Creek – The color all along the creek are at their prime which may last for the next two weeks judging from the amount of green remaining in many of the groves.

Convict Lake (10/14/15) Charles Porter

Convict Lake (10/14/15) Charles Porter

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Convict Canyon/Convict Lake – The lower section of the canyon up through the campground/resort is at peak. The fall color in this area is spectacular, showing bright yellow, gold, orange and some red. The foliage along the lake has also started to peak and has greatly increased in intensity. The shoreline is traced with a line of yellow.  At the back of the lake, a bright ribbon of gold is snaking its way up the canyon. From bottom to the top of the canyon there are still some pockets of green next to sections that have already peaked. So, we’re good for a long peak here, conditions permitting. The Convict Lake Resort is offering an End-Of-Season Fall Lodging Special starting at $259+tax (Oct. 25 – Nov. 15; Sun. thru Thurs., two nights for two persons). Includes $100 restaurant credit & full-day motor boat rental. The Convict Lake fall fishing derby, “Ambush at the Lake” continues through Nov. 15, with up to $6,000 in prizes.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Laurel Canyon – A breathtaking ribbon of orange, red, and gold is stretching from top to bottom along Laurel Creek, creating an impressive contrast against the soft grey and green sage-covered hillside. Take Sherwin Creek Road of US 395 just south of Mammoth Lakes to see this colorful phenomenon up close.

Mammoth Lakes (10/12/15) Josh Wray

Mammoth Lakes (10/12/15) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes (10/12/15) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (10/12/15) Josh Wray

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) -Mammoth Lake is near or at peak with Mammoth Creek and the Twin Lakes absolutely glorious (see below).

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158 – Yes, folks, “the Loop” is almost there! Shades of lime-green throughout the gold and orange remind us that the June Lake Loop is not quite at peak yet, but it is already worth the drive! Parker Lake trail should be at peak now; Walker Lake is probably getting close although we have not had any recent reports to confirm that assumption.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Sage Hen Meadow Road.

Patchy (10-50%) – Lee Vining Canyon – Tioga Pass Road and Poole Plant Road are still a week or more away from peaking.

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Lundy Canyon. The lower part of Lundy Lake Road is at full peak, as are the aspens around the beaver ponds and the first set of waterfalls.  Oddly enough, there are still full groves at the Lundy Lake level that are still completely green so the color should last through the next two weeks.

BRIDGEPORT / CONWAY SUMMIT

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Conway Summit.  Conway Summit is perfect right now! Bridgeport’s Ducks Unlimited Dinner is this Saturday, Oct. 17. Join Bridgeport locals at Memorial Hall for dinner and to find out their secret fall color and duck hunting spots.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Virginia Lakes

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Green Creek/Summers Meadow.  Just south of Bridgeport, take the Green Creek Road and follow signs for Upper Summers Meadow, or stay on the main road to Green Creek trail or Dunderberg Meadow. Some groves are past peak but most are glowing orange and gold, and still others remain green.

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Monitor Pass/Sonora Pass/Leavitt Meadows. Past peak at upper elevations but golden at lower levels.

Patchy (10-50%) – Walker Canyon/West Walker River/Towns of Walker & Coleville

Mammoth Creek, Mammoth Lakes (10/15/15) Lara Kaylor

Mammoth Creek, Mammoth Lakes (10/15/15) Lara Kaylor

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Bishop Canyon – Snow Chills Fall Color High Up

North Lake (10/6/15) Erick Castellon

North Lake (10/6/15) Erick Castellon

An early, though brief winter storm that dropped snow high up in the Eastern Sierra this past Sunday damaged and reduced what color was remaining above 9000′ in Bishop Creek Canyon.  There’s still a lot of beautiful color to be seen, but it has descended.

Overall Conditions Above 8400ft Elevation – Peaking – Go Now! – The upper reaches of Bishop Creek Canyon have now gone past peak, though they flamed out in brilliant splashes of red.  Lots of yellow and some lime is found between 8,400 and 8,600′.

Overall Conditions Between 7500ft & 8400ft Elevation – Patchy (10% – 50%) – A lot more color has developed at these elevations, though many of the groves had already been stripped of leaves.  Still, large areas of lush foliage will continue to show nicely in the coming two weeks.

North Lake (10/3/15) Jeff Hemming

North Lake (10/3/15) Jeff Hemming

Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT! – Sabrina Campground to Sabrina Dam (9000ft).

Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT! – Willow Campground (9000ft) .

Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT! – North Lake (9255ft) .

Past Peak – YOU MISSED IT! – Weir Pond (9650ft).

Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! – Parchers Resort (9260ft)

Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! – Table Mountain Camp (8900ft) .

Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! – Surveyors Meadow (8975ft) .

Lake Sabrina (10/6/15) Aditi Das

Lake Sabrina (10/6/15) Aditi Das

Past Peak– YOU MISSED IT! – Lake Sabrina (9150ft).

Peak GO NOW! (75-100%) – Stiny Loop above Mt. Glen Camp (8600ft) – It is as good as it will get this year at Stiny.  It’s peak, but we’re being generous in that rating.  This area lost a lot of leaves earlier in autumn.

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Mist Falls and the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge (8350ft) – Yellow and some green are surrounding the waterfall and in the groves between there at Mt. Glen Campground. As predicted, this is probably the best color to be seen up Bishop Creek Canyon and it has another week to show.

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Aspendell (8400ft) – Much better color has developed here in the past week.  Some spotters classified it as peaking.

Peak GO NOW! Groves at Cardinal Village – While aspen from Cardinal Pinnacle down have blown, aspen down the creek from the  North Lake turnoff winding down the canyon past the mine towards Cardinal Village are full of yellow.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Four Jeffries (8000ft) – The aspen here continue to lighten.

Patchy (10 – 50%) – Intake II (8000ft) – The canyon wall is mostly stripped now but there are some very nice patches near the dam, and a couple of the large aspen along the shoreline are yellow.

Just Starting – (0 – 10%) – Big Trees Campground (7800ft) – Yellow is beginning to appear.

 

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Color of the Week: Red

Pacific Aspen, North Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

Pacific Aspen, North Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

The color of the week has been red, particularly at North Lake in Bishop Creek Canyon where Pacific Aspen have turned crimson.

North Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

North Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

South Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

South Lake, Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

South Fork Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

South Fork Bishop Creek (10/6/15) Aditi Das

North Lake (10/6/15) Erick Castellon

North Lake (10/6/15) Erick Castellon

North Lake (9/25/15) Julie Kirby

North Lake (9/25/15) Julie Kirby

This deep a tone of red has surprised many who thought aspen turned only yellow. Colorado’s famous mountain slopes flickering with yellow aspen are a trademark of autumn in the Rocky Mountains.  However, aspen that grow in the high alpine canyons of the eastern Sierra Nevada have the ideal combination of warm, sunny days and cold, cold nights to bring out red, orange and pink, as well as yellow and lime.

We post, today, a selection of great photos taken in past days by a selection of color spotters. Bravo for finding the color and sharing your vision with us.

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First Report: Ebbett’s Pass

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

I can’t recall when we’ve received a report on the fall color at Ebbett’s Pass, but today we correct that with one from color spotter Kimberly Kolafa.

Kimberly apologized for not having sent photos until this week, as she was in Maine backpacking amidst fall color “that never happened!” Un, huh, and…

Well, we have our own dismal story here, as most observers are noting that the drought has “really impacted leaf peeping,” so we quoteth Ms.Kolafa.

The drought is making it very difficult to rate an area, as aspen (such is the case with Carson Pass) may be stripped, while willows and ground shrubs are still Patchy but developing beautiful color.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau

If you’re driving this route, look for interesting subjects to contrast what color is there, as Kimberly did, while turning rotten apples into sweet-tasting apple cider (couldn’t pass up the autumnal metaphor).

Chalmer's Mansion, Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Chalmer’s Mansion, Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

She found the Chalmers Mansion and Cemetery, edged with bright color and came away with this story to complement her image.

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kolafa

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Ebbetts Pass (10/4/15) Kimberly Kofala

Lewis Chalmers was superintendent of a mine in the Silver Mountain mining district (1870s – ’80s).  He and his brother had emigrated from Scotland; he returned to Britain in 1885 to raise funds for his mining operations and died there in 1904. Several of his family are buried near the mansion.

Photos like Kimberly’s shot of Chalmer’s Mansion could make up for the lack of color, in some locations, this autumn.

Editor’s Note: Please read the following comment about Hwy 4. This beautiful and historic route could use a little TLC, right now.  As, recent events (the Butte Fire, in particular) hurt the local economy and folks who live along the route would welcome seeing photographers, leaf peepers and all who appreciate beautiful places visit their communities and spread the word that the beauty and history are still there.  Favorites of ours are Ironstone Vineyards (Japanese maples in autumn, daffodils in springtime) in Murphy’s and Calaveras Big Trees State Park up the highway, where dogwood are getting good.  Bonnie Nordby suggests a particularly photogenic location. Our arms reach out to Brad Nordby’s family which lost their home during the fire.  Autumn is a reminder that what is lost always returns.

Patchy (10-50%) Ebbett’s Pass (Hwy 4) Shrubs – Grasses are yellow with green undergrowth and shrubs are yellow to maroon red along Silver Creek.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Ebbett’s Pass Trees – Like Carson Pass and the Hope Valley, most of the aspen have lost their leaves, though again similar to these areas, there are patches of aspen and cottonwood that remain green or are changing to lime and yellow.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Monitor Pass.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Taylor Creek, South Lake Tahoe – Aspen are past peak, but there’s hope for a good salmon run, as the creek appears to be running better than past years.

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Here Comes The Sun! – Mono County Shines

Parker Lake (10/3/15) Alicia Vennos

Parker Lake (10/3/15) Alicia Vennos

Color spotter Alicia Vennos reports the Eastern Sierra was blessed with a full day and a half of rain and snow at higher elevations this past Sunday.  That made fall colors stand out even more beautifully in the bright sunlight that has come out, since.

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

The most significant color to be seen in Mono County is at 9,000′, where we issue a GO NOW! alert for Rock Creek.  Alicia writes that it’s gorgeous and peaking from East Fork up to Rock Creek Lake.

This is the perfect weekend to make the drive, considering that this is the last weekend Pie in the Sky Cafe will be open.  Get there early, as they almost always sell out before noon.

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake Campground (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Rock Creek Lake (10/4/15) Alicia Vennos

Silver Lake (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

Silver Lake (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Rock Creek – Rock Creek Road from East Fork to Rock Creek Lake. Color is now flooding this section of Rock Creek. Look out for motorists who are in awe, and always check rear-view mirror before pulling over or slowing down suddenly. From East Fork down to Tom’s Place, the aspens are still green in many sections, and Lower Rock Creek Road and the trail — popular with mountain bikers, hikers and anglers — is also yet to pop.

Patchy (10-50%) – McGee Creek – Aspen around McGee Creek Campground and McGee Creek Pack Station are just starting to turn color.  Hike up the trail for a mile or two and the aspen are bright yellow, orange and red.

Patchy (10-50%) – Convict Canyon – The colors from the lower section of the canyon up through the campground have increased slightly in intensity. The foliage along the lake has definitely begun to develop more color but there are still areas that haven’t turned. The change seems to be taking a little more time this year and it is difficult to predict the pace. The foliage throughout the canyon seems to be changing at different rates. One section may be bright yellow and adjacent to it are pockets of green. Even with the unpredictability, the peak should be just around the corner. The colors there now are still amazing and a walk along the NEW PATH on the south shore is recommended.

Lower Twin, Mammoth Lakes (10/7/15) Jen Heger

Lower Twin, Mammoth Lakes (10/7/15) Jen Heger

Patchy (10-50%) – Mammoth Lakes – The lakes basin continues to brighten.

Patchy (10-50%) – June Lake Loop/Hwy. 158 – The Loop is taking its sweet time this year — or maybe it just seems that way, because our readers can hardly wait. Most of the aspens are just beginning to hint at the awesome color that is yet to come.  Around the Fire Station down canyon, the trees are beginning to move towards yellow-orange.  Even Parker Lake , off the north end of the Loop, seems slow to move to peak. We thought that last weekend it would be pretty close to prime but on Saturday, it still had more hues of lime-green and gold than orange.  It is a gorgeous 4-mile hike round trip with stunning views of Mono Lake and the color will have picked up a bit the last few days so still a good bet. Try and get to the lake itself before 9:00 am if possible as you will almost be guaranteed a spectacular reflection of the mountains on the surface of the water — unless it’s a windy morning, of course.  For those who are fit and enjoy a longer, steeper hike, try Bloody Canyon out of Walker Lake. The trees at the lake level have yet to really start turning but a couple of miles up the trail, you’ll find some exceptional color.  The June Lake Autumn Beer Festival is this Saturday, Oct. 10 at Gull Lake Park.

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Sage Hen Meadow Road.

Patchy (10-50%) – Lee Vining Canyon – Tioga Pass Road has awesome views of Lee Vining Canyon and the aspens look like they are still a couple of weeks from peaking.  Log Cabin Road area is starting to shine.

Lundy Canyon (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Lundy Canyon (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Lundy Canyon (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Lundy Canyon (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Patchy (10-50%) – Lundy Canyon – The thick aspen stands that line the road are still just beginning their autumn wardrobe change! Along the Lundy Canyon trailhead, the color is heating up a bit around the waterfall viewpoint, although still another week or more from peak.

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Twin Lakes – The higher elevations have been peaking over the last week in the areas around Barney Lake and Horsetail Falls. Expect to see greens, lime greens and some yellows around Upper and Lower Twin Lakes and Robinson Creek. The next two weekends should be spectacular here. Color spotter Jen Heger adds, “Aspen have many shades of yellow, light orange with patches of green.  Trees still have all their leaves… Just breathtaking and not many people around!”

Virgina Lakes Road (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Virgina Lakes Road (10/4/15) Dotty Molt

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Virginia Lakes

Dunderberg Meadow (10/6/15) Philip Reedy

Dunderberg Meadow (10/6/15) Philip Reedy

Dunderberg Meadow (10/6/15) Philp Reedy

Dunderberg Meadow (10/6/15) Philp Reedy

Patchy (10-50%) – Conway Summit – Conway summit is also brightening substantially, making for really pretty photos right from the pull-outs on US 395. Always use caution when pulling over, of course. Bridgeport’s Ducks Unlimited Dinner is October 17 which should be perfect timing for peak color if you are hungry for a delicious dinner and a ton of great raffle prizes!

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Green Creek – Colors are at peak and are past peak in other places. The recent storm last Sunday blew off many leaves before reaching full color. We recommend starting at Summers Meadow and working your way up to Green Creek.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Summers Meadow – Go Now! Summers Meadow off Green Creek Road will be perfect over the next week. Some leaves at the upper elevation may be past peak but there is still plenty of photo opportunities along Lower Summers Meadow Road.

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Monitor Pass – Go Now Colors have peaked at the top of Monitor Pass but as you progress down the mountain expect to see more color.

Patchy (10-50%)  Walker Canyon – The colors along the West Walker River are starting to glow in certain sections.

Patchy (10-50%)  Towns of Walker & Coleville – Still mostly green and traditionally is one of the last destinations to turn throughout the Eastern Sierra. Plan your trip for the last weekend in October.

SONORA PASS

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Sonora Pass/Leavitt Meadows – Leavitt Meadows is starting to turn gold, as are some of the aspens as you drive up Sonora Pass. The Leavitt Meadows Pack Station is open until mid-October for anyone wanting to take a ride by horseback to see the color!

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Still Hope, Though Mostly Past Peak

Sorensen's Resort (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Sorensen’s Resort (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Last year, to the day, I drove the western Sierra foothills to Placerville, up Newtown Rd and Mormon Emigrant Rd. to CA-88, crossing Carson Pass and descending into the Hope Valley where it was peaking beautifully. I then returned over Luther Pass to South Lake Tahoe, then back over Echo Summit on US50. Today, I repeated the drive.

Last year, the Hope Valley was peaking.  This year, it’s beyond hope.

Carson Pass and the Hope Valley are now mostly Past Peak, though amid groves and groves of bare aspen, others are still fully green and Just Starting, while others are Patchy, and still others are Near Peak.

Caples Lake (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Caples Lake (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Last year, I stopped at the Caples Lake Resort to photograph a hillside of colorful aspen reflected in the lake.  This year, only the crowns of those trees carry any color.

It’s interesting that the willows that normally turn first, are now peaking while the aspen have lost their color.

Beyond Carson Pass, among landmark-sized Jeffrey pine, the ground between granite boulders is full of deep-orange ground cover.

Black Leaf Spot, Forestdale Creek Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Black Leaf Spot, Forestdale Creek Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Forestdale Creek Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Forestdale Creek Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

The effect of black leaf spot fungus is evident along Forestdale Creek Road, an off-road trail near Red Lake, where many aspen still carry spotted leaves.

One of the few nice aspects of the color this year is that many of the aspen are topped with golden crowns, though they’ve lost the color below and all that remains are their buff and white colored lower branches and trunks.

The forest’s remaining color is nice to look at, though photographers will be disappointed.

At 7,400′ in elevation on the east side of Carson Pass, there are several healthy stands of green aspen that should be Near Peak in two weeks. Patchy sections in the forest will turn sooner.  Healthy, lush groves are found near streams, but not far from denuded stands of bare aspen, their stemy branches raised to heaven as if imploring the skies to let them embrace the first snowfall.

Next weekend’s best hope to see full peak in the Hope Valley will be at Sorensen’s Resort.  There, the most promising grove along Hwys 88 and 89 is a brilliant, yellow-orange stretch of Near Peak aspen (seen above) directly across the highway from the Sorensen’s Resort.

I stopped to chat briefly with resort owner John Brissenden who said several of his cabins are still available this coming weekend for those who would like to see the best fall color the Hope Valley will provide this year.  He also admitted that, though disappointing, 2015 isn’t the earliest peak that Carson Pass has experienced.  Some years ago, it went Past Peak in mid September.

As for the rest of the route:

  • The black oak and bigleaf maple along Newtown Road (Placerville) are Just Starting.
  • Vineyards in El Dorado County’s Pleasant Valley are now showing yellow highlights, though they’ve a way to go.
  • There is little to no color along Mormon Emigrant Road, though a few dogwood are showing soft pastel-orange and rose leaves.
  • South Lake Tahoe is Patchy with yellow and lime just emerging among its mostly green aspen.
  • Grasses, willows, ferns and brush provide the most color along the entire route with maroon, yellow, buff, gold, crimson and orange decorating meadows and forest floors.
Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd (10/5/14) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Aspen, Kirkwood Lake Rd. (10/4/15) John Poimiroo

Past Peak YOU MISSED IT! – Carson Pass.  Nearly all the aspen at the highest reaches of the pass have lost their leaves. The most profound example of the change (seen at left) is the comparison of a stand of aspen shot last year off CA-88 at the trailhead to Kirkwood Lake and the same stand shot today.

Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! – Hope Valley – The best stand is found directly across Hwys 88 and 89 from Sorensen’s Resort.  Room at the inn is available next weekend, if you want to see it at its best.  Unfortunately, all the aspen at and surrounding the resort have dropped their color.

Patchy (10-50%) – Lake Tahoe

Just Starting (0-10%) – US 50 – All elevations

Just Starting (0-10%) – Newtown Rd, Placerville (Gold Country)

Just Starting (0-10%) – Pleasant Valley Vineyards (Gold Country)

A Week of Photos In Review

North Lake (9/27/15) Elliott McCucken

North Lake (9/27/15) Elliot McCucken

North Lake (9/27/15) Elliott McCucken

North Lake (9/27/15) Elliot McCucken

Sunrise, Tioga Pass (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

Sunrise, Tioga Pass (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

 

So many photographers send great photos to share with CaliforniaFallColor.com readers, that we often don’t have time to post them.  Let’s make that up, today.

Anyone can send photos.  The best way to get your photos published is to email them to editor(at)californiafallcolor.com.

Photos should be large enough to post. 1,000k is best, though we can use photos down to about 250k.

The top five photos, each week, are (with the photographer’s permission) sent to media for placement on their websites on television (weather reports) and in newspapers.  This is a great way to get published and garner exposure from a major medium.  For these, we need high resolution shots (300 dpi).

We’re unable to promise to publish every photo, but when a photo is of a place we don’t see very often or is exceptional, we try our best to post it.

Here are some of the best photos received this past week from color spotters across California.  Enjoy.  We sure did.

AN-YosemiteValley-1

Dogwood, Yosemite Valley (10/1/15) Alena Nicholas

Bishop Creek (9/27/15) Elliott McCucken

Bishop Creek (9/27/15) Elliot McCucken

Blue Lake above Big Virginia Lake (9/27/15) Kevin Randick

Blue Lake above Big Virginia Lake (9/27/15) Kevin Lennox

Tioga Pass (10/1/15) Alena Nicholas

Tioga Pass (10/1/15) Alena Nicholas

Tioga Pass (10/1/15) Alena Nicholas

Tioga Pass (10/1/15) Alena Nicholas

Bishop Creek (9/27/15) Elliott McCucken

S. Fork Bishop Creek (9/27/15) Elliot McCucken

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Weekend Forecast: A Wet Mix of Peak and Past Peak

Mule Deer at June Lake (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

Mule Deer at June Lake (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

Color spotter Alena Nicholas reports from a lakeside cabin at Boulder Lodge on June Lake, near where these photos were taken.  Nicholas notes that June Lake is joyfully transitioning from green to yellow, though the color is still at the low end of being Patchy.  When it’s drizzling, as is now happening in the Eastern Sierra, it’s time to look for new things to photograph, like deer enjoying fresh bursts of green.

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

June Lake Loop (9/30/15) Alena Nicholas

This weekend, all points above 9,000’ in the Eastern Sierra (Inyo and Mono Counties), including: Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, Hilton Creek, Virginia Lakes, Green Creek, Summers Meadow, Sage Hen, Dunderberg Meadow and Twin Lakes have the most color, though how long it lasts will depend on the weather.

Yesterday, light breezes blew some of the color from areas in the Eastern Sierra that had peaked or were approaching peak (see below reports). However, the wind only got to what had peaked.  As Alicia Vennos wrote from Mono County this morning, there is still “far too much green mixed with the yellows and oranges,” for the show to end.

That should hold true even after this weekend’s storm passes by. Trees that have green leaves or slightly turned leaves will retain them and their fall color will emerge in coming days and weeks.

Prime areas to see California Fall Color this weekend are at all points above 9,000’ in the Eastern Sierra (Inyo and Mono Counties), including: Bishop Creek, Rock Creek, Hilton Creek, Virginia Lakes, Green Creek, Summers Meadow, Sage Hen, Dunderberg Meadow and Twin Lakes.

Patchy (10-50%) – June Lake – Still early, though color has begun developing.