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Sky High Over Mammoth

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Agnew Lake, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/25/18) Josh Wray

In a week, Mammoth Lakes has transitioned from Patchy to Peaking. And, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray was sky high over it.

To see it all, he rode an exhilarating scenic flight with SkyTime Helicopter Tours out of the Mammoth Airport. Then, returned to earth to hike with a friend around lakes and along trails that are natural boulevards through bright yellow arbors of rustling aspen leaves.

Josh reports that fall color has matured quickly and though it will likely remain good for at least another week, we’re declaring Mammoth Lakes as a GO NOW! destination and the Rainbow Falls trail as this week’s Hike of the Week.

This is big country. Hikes can vary from heart thumping to easy romantic strolls. Josh recommends, “Head up to Lake George an hour after sunrise for the best light.”  Or do as Josh did and get above it all on a helicopter tour. Anyway you experience Mammoth, it’s a 360-degree adventure. 

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,000′ and Up!) – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Aspen, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes (9/25/18) Josh Wray

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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Autumn

Twin Lakes Waterfall, Mammoth Lakes Basin (9/6/18) Josh Wray

As long as we’re in the singing mood, how about turning Johnny Mathis’ classic upside down.

No, it’s not beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it is beginning to feel a lot like Autumn, Mammoth Lakes color spotter Josh Wray reports. “It’s really starting to feel like the early days of fall in Mammoth Lakes now with summer crowds calming down and temperatures dropping at night.”

He visited the Mammoth Lakes Basin a couple of days ago, “…to see what it’s looking like up there, and it was gorgeous. There were traces of yellow aspen leaves off in the distance but nothing to report on quite yet.”

The color seen in the photo at left are grasses ringing the Twin Lakes. Otherwise, there’s little fall color yet to be seen at 8,500′ in the Eastern Sierra. 

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mammoth Lakes (8,500′)

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Time to be Outside on the Eastside

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Whoa, if ever there were a weekend to get Outside on the Eastside, this is it in Mono County.

Peak color can be found anywhere you go and whichever direction you drive. We’ll be posting an update on Lake Tahoe and the Hope Valley, after returning to scout those locations (Oct. 12) and fully expect the color to be great, just as it is in Mono and Inyo Counties right now.

Part of the reason this autumn is so good is why it is so confusing. On the exact same day for the same location we’ve received conflicting reports stating, “It’s gone” or “it’s spectacular” or “not yet there.”

What’s happening is that the aspen forest, for the first time in anyone’s memory, is turning by grove. Stands of aspen are different genetically, and they’re demonstrating their individuality this autumn. In past years, the genetic differences between the groves seemed to make little difference, as the trees at least acted as if they were on the same clock. Not this year.

What that means for fall color viewing is that the show is lasting longer, but not as uniformly at any given location.

The big change this past week occurred at the highest elevations, which for the most part went Past Peak. Places like Upper Rock Creek (10,300′), Tioga Pass (9,943′) and Sagehen Meadows (8,139′ – High Desert, so it’s drier there) are now Past Peak.  Though, that’s not universally true. Some of the groves at “you’ll-get-winded walking there” heights are still green.

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Some spotters began declaring calamity after seeing stripped stands at some locations, posting on Facebook and elsewhere that high winds had stripped the color. So, I called Mono County fall color guru Jeff Simpson (Yes, you’ve now achieved guru status in your life, Jeff).

Jeff lives on the eastside and has been reporting autumn color for years. He seemed to be offended by the suggestion that fall had ended, saying, “in no way have all the leaves blown off.”

OK, Jeff, OK. I believe you, especially since you’re now a guru and after seeing your photos, taken as late as yesterday.

So, count on it.

This weekend, there’ll be lots of gorgeous color to be seen at: Twin Lakes Bridgeport, Lundy Canyon, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Road, McGee Creek Canyon, Conway Summit, Summers Meadow Road, Lobdell Lake Road, Lee Vining Canyon, Monitor Pass and the June Lake Loop, even if a few leaves have fallen, as seen at right.

Here’s a detailed report from Mono County, a go-to destination for great fall color this week:

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

Monitor Pass (8,314′) – Peak (75-100%) – Aspen on the summit are perfect, right now. Look for the large grove of trees on the east side of the summit to have the best display of color. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Road (8,600′) – Peak (75-100%) – This area has never looked as good. Lots of peaking trees with deep reds and yellows. Get here fast, as some stands are past peak or will not last much longer.  Note: Burcham Flat Road to Lobdell lake Road are dirt roads – AWD or 4WD vehicles are recommended. GO NOW!

Lobdell Lake Rd. (10/10/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

Walker Canyon (5,200′)- Patchy (10-50%) – Walker canyon has slowed since last reported. There are stands with great yellows and lime greens while others are just getting started. Give it a week and it’ll be rating “Go Now!”, but not just yet.

Towns of Walker & Coleville – Just Starting (0-10%) – A few cottonwoods have started to turn but this is traditionally the last place to peak in Mono County. Look to go here in the 3rd or 4th week in October. Nevertheless, there are spots where the tall cottonwood are crowned with yellow in the midday sun.

Sonora Pass (9,623′)- Peak (75-100%) – It’s a fall color inversion here, as colors are looking nice around Leavitt Meadows Pack station and the lower sections of Sonora Pass, whereas aspen near the summit never seemed to get going. You’ll find peak to past peak groves along the road and is still worth the trip this weekend. See our earlier report about Obsidian Campground – glorious! GO NOW!

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

Twin Lakes (7,000′) -Peak (75-100%) – The biggest change in Mono County this week has occurred at Twin Lakes near Bridgeport. Wonderful color has appeared along the upper and lower lakes, and up the mountainside toward Horse Creek. GO NOW!

Virginia Lakes (9,819’) –Peak (75-100%) to Past Peak – The leaves never got going at Virginia Lakes, this year. Though, there’s still some great color along Lower Virginia Lakes Road. GO NOW! as You’re About to Miss It.

Conway Summit (8,143′)- Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lot’s of great color at Conway Summit right now. A few stands are a little green while most of the mountainside is at full peak. Tip: visit in the late afternoon, as shadows make this difficult to photograph in morning light. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow (7,200′) – Peak (75-100%) – – Simply spectacular. Entire groves of peaking aspens make this location a must stop.  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. GO NOW!

Conway Summit (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

LEE VINING 

Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon (9,943′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is great color to be found in Lee Vining Canyon, especially along Log Cabin Mine Road. Higher up, Tioga Pass and Saddlebag Lake are past peak. GO NOW!

Lundy Lake & Canyon (7,858′)- Peak (75-100%) – Be prepared for brilliant color up Lee Vining Canyon at the first set of waterfalls. Color along the road and campground is our peak as Peak of the Week. GO NOW!

BENTON & 120 EAST 

Sagehen Summit (8,139’) – Past Peak (You Missed It.)

JUNE LAKE LOOP

Silver Lake, June Lake Loop (10/11/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 (7,654′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – There is lots of bright lime, yellow and orange in the aspen around the June Lake Loop. There are peak trees just about everywhere. And yet, the June Lake Loop will last another week or two. We do not recommend delaying, but if you only can visit in two weeks, you should still find spots of good color. GO NOW!

Parker Lake (8,000′) – 50-100% Go Now!  – Wow. From Parker Bench to Parker Lake be prepared to drop your jaw. You will find a mix of color from Patchy to Near Peak, to Peaking, to Past Peak, but overall it’s lovely. GO NOW!

MAMMOTH LAKES

Mammoth Lakes Basin (8,996′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Mammoth has come into its own, with good color along Mammoth Creek Road and Sherwin Creek Road and among bright orange willows at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. GO NOW!

Summers Meadow Rd. (10/9/17) Jeff Simpson | Mono County Tourism

CROWLEY LAKE/McGEE CREEK/CONVICT LAKE

McGee Creek Canyon (8,600’) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – – McGee Creek Canyon is at full peak and has wonderful color right now while the road is still a bit patchy. GO NOW!

Around Crowley Community (6,781′) – Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) – Poke around the community and you’ll find bright color there and along the hillsides beside U.S. 395. Take the “old US 395” road from McGee Creek to Tom’s Place for great views of the color change that’s occurring up the mountain. GO NOW!

Convict Lake (7850′) – Peak (75-100%) – Convict Lake is a “must” stop this week. Colors are at their peak along the lake and up Convict Canyon. 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. GO NOW!

ROCK CREEK CANYON

Rock Creek Road (9,600’) –Near Peak to Peak (50-100%) –  – Wonderful color along the lower section of Rock Creek Road from Tom’s Place. There are sections of great Yellows and Oranges while other areas above the lake may be past peak. GO NOW!

Lower Rock Creek Road(7,087′) – Patchy (10-50%)

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Fall Color Survives in Mono County – GO NOW!

Silver Lake View (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Silver Lake View (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

June Lake Loop (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

To all those photographers, color spotters and leaf peepers who were concerned about how this past weekend’s strong winds, rain and snow affected the High Sierra, rest easy and GO NOW!

Mono County color spotter Jeff Simpson reports that the storm and major wind event that occurred over the weekend has past, leaving the mountain peaks shining with snow, and providing for spectacular fall photo opportunities.

Conway Summit (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Conway Summit (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Ideal conditions for fall color are now to be found on the east side, with warm days and cold nights.  These conditions are predicted to persist until next week.

All areas above 8,500′ in the Eastern Sierra are now mostly past peak, though there’s way, way lots of color left to be enjoyed along the June Lake Loop, Walker Canyon, Twin Lakes and Lundy Lake. So, “GO NOW,” Jeff exclaims.

Photo tip: Fallen leaves that wash up beside creeks and on rocks accent the scene.  So, even though many leaves have fallen, good photographs remain to be taken. Shoot big waterfalls with a fast shutter speed, small waterfalls with a slow shutter speed and with camera mounted on a tripod.

These areas were affected by the storm, but still have groves of fantastic color: Conway Summit, Convict Lake, Summers Meadow, McGee Creek and Rock Creek.

As of posting this report, Tioga Pass, Sonora Pass and Monitor Pass were closed. However, road conditions change. CLICK HERE for the latest in California road road conditions and pass openings/closures. Simpson reports:

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

WALKER / COLEVILLE / TOPAZ

  • Monitor Pass – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Lobdell Lake – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Walker Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – The banks of the West Walker River are lined with gold! Plan your viewing for mid-day as the shadows will be out early in the morning and late afternoon.
  • Towns of Walker & Coleville – Near Peak (50-75%) GO NOW! Lots of great color in Antelope Valley. The cottonwood around Topaz Lane should be spectacular this weekend.
  • Sonora Pass – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

BRIDGEPORT / VIRGINIA LAKES

  • Twin Lakes – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still plenty of excellent color around both lakes and through Robinson Creek. Make sure to take the dirt round around Lower Twin Lakes for the best fall color experience.
  • Virginia Lakes – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

    Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Summers Meadow (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

  • Conway Summit – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – A lot of leaves were blown off during the storm but around 35% of the leaves still remain. It’s a fantastic photo opp with the snowy mountains in the background.
    Green Creek – Past Peak
  • Summers Meadow – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Still a few groves handing on with brilliant color with some sections being past peak. 

LEE VINING 

  • Tioga Pass & Lee Vining Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Lee Vining Canyon has amazing color in all the campground down to US 395. Anything above Lee Vining Canyon is past peak with Tioga Pass currently closed.
    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Mule deer, Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    Mule deer, Twin Lakes, Bridgeport (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    West Walker River (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

    West Walker River (10/18/16) Jeff Simpson

  • Lundy Lake & Canyon – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Brilliant oranges and reds along the campground and in the creek down to US 395.  Anything Lundy Lake and into Lundy Canyon is past peak.

OLD BENTON

  • Sagehen Meadows – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

JUNE LAKE LOOP

  • June Lake Loop/Hwy 158 – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Groves of brilliant yellow, gold and red in some locations while others are past peak. Fantastic color around Gull Lake and in between Grant and Silver Lake.
  • Parker Lake -Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Little Walker Lake -Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

MAMMOTH LAKES

  • Devil’s Postpile National Monument – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Mammoth Creek Rd. – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Snowcreek Golf Course – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!

CONVICT LAKE / LAUREL CANYON / ROCK CREEK / McGEE CREEK

  • Laurel Canyon – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Convict Lake – Past Peak YOU MISSED IT!
  • Rock Creek – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Pockets of bright color can still be found.
  • McGee Creek – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Pockets of bright color can still be found.

CROWLEY / TOM’S PLACE

  • Crowley – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW!
  • Tom’s Place –  – Peak (75-100%) GO NOW! – Bold yellow aspen surround the community, though much has fallen.

Gorgeous Light and Shores Carpeted with Color

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Convict Lake, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Convict Lake, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Rock Creek, Mono County (9/10/16) Darrell Sano

Photographer Darrell Sano was mesmerized this past weekend by early autumn beauty seen in the Eastern Sierra.

He stayed in Mammoth Lakes at Twin Lakes and reports, “it was truly a memorable experience. The fall light is gorgeous, and the night sky was clear and pristine.”

Darrell poked around the Mammoth Lakes Basin though, because we’d just posted shots of that area by Josh Wray, chose to send images from nearby Convict Lake where color is just starting, “especially the low shrubs.”

Convict Lake is a late bloomer by Eastern Sierra standards, due to its lower elevation. If you go now, don’t expect to find aspen to be showing much color, though the beauty and serenity of the lake is uplifting. 

Darrell wrote he found Convict Lake to be “wonderful to watch fishermen float above giant boulders in the clear water.” His imagery seems almost Salvadore Dali-esque, doesn’t it?

Hiking Rock Creek Canyon, he found patches of color anywhere from high above the road, down to eye level.

Darrell pointed out things many people miss when they visit too late in autumn.  He noted the beauty of the trees when backlit, that their “golden leaves were stunning, a visual treat in the clear air.”

As always, we recommend looking down not just up, and Darrell confirmed that recommendation, saying the low grasses lining the crystal-clear lakes that he hiked past carpeted the edges with autumn color.

On Darrell’s return to the East Bay, he crossed Sonora Pass (CA-108) and found patchy areas of color on the east side of the pass. The aspen in this area are artistically set among boulders and water falls, well worth including on your search for fall color.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Convict Lake (7,851′)

Patchy (10-50%) – Sonora Pass (9,623′)

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Autumn Rolls Into Mammoth Lakes

Autumn hues brighten a Harley stopping at Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Autumn hues brighten a Harley that stopped at Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Mule deer, Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Mule deer, Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks,Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks,Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Sherwin and Laurel Creeks, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Quaking aspen, Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Quaking aspen, Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Twin Lakes, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

Lake George, Mammoth Lakes (9/8/16) Josh Wray

To be assured of autumn color, bring it with you, as the couple above did on their Harley-Davidson motorcycle when they stopped at Twin Lakes, yesterday.

Mammoth Lakes’ Josh Wray captured the scene and reports that color continues to emerge among the willows, grasses and aspen surrounding Mammoth Lakes.

Here’s his report:

Just Starting (0-10%) – Mammoth Lakes Basin 8,500ft – The trees near the first parking lot at Twin Lakes have started to turn. There are even some willows and few aspens that have turned to yellow. As you make your way to the first Twin Lakes bridge near Tamarack Lodge, look northwest and you’ll gain a better view of the changing hillside. Trees around the lake are in that lime green stage, but my guess would be that in the next week or so we’ll start to see more brilliant colors on the water.

Just Starting (0-10%) – Lake George 9,000ft –  Lake George is the highest drive to lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, and it sits at about 9,000’. It’s not uncommon to only share this lake with a few float tubers in the early morning, so get up there while the light is good and enjoy the breathtaking views of Crystal Crag and the Mammoth Crest. From the dock look due west and you’ll be able to see a large patch of willows starting to change.

Just Starting (0-10%) -Mammoth Rock 9,100ft –  There is a large grove of tall aspens that reside near the historical site of the old town of Mammoth Lakes. This area is also a highlight due to the access to the Mammoth Rock trail for hiking and mountain biking. It’s still in its early stages for color change, but this spot is expected to produce a brilliant display this year.

Just Starting (0-10%) -Laurel Creek 8,000ft –  This is one of my favorite fall color spots to watch go through the stages. Because of the length of the grove, higher sections take on color earlier while the lower sections add some contrast. This view is visible from highway 395 but to gain the ultimate view drive down Sherwin Creek road for a closer look. Also if you’ve got 4×4 with high clearance you can take the technical road up to Laurel canyon and lakes. The meadow at the beginning of the canyon is a sight to behold in Autumn. 

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Conway/Twin Lakes Update

Conway Summit (10/9/15 Clayton Peoples

Conway Summit (10/9/15 Clayton Peoples

Color spotter Clayton Peoples took a quick road trip into northern Mono County and came away with this report and photos of Conway Summit and the Twin Lakes area.

Twin Laked (10/9/15) Clayton Peoples

Twin Laked (10/9/15) Clayton Peoples

Patchy (10-50%) – Conway Summit – Though still “patchy,” this pass along U.S. 395 “is definitely nearing the 50% mark. Another week will likely bring it to “near peak” or “peak” conditions.”

Patchy (10-50%) Twin Lakes – Tucked beneath a Sierra escarpment at the southwest corner of the Bridgeport Valley, these lakes are much like Conway Summit, “but near 50%, with peak likely pretty soon.”

Near Peak GO NOW! (50-75%) – Convict Canyon – Color spotter Alicia Vennos adds, “The colors from the lower section of the canyon up through the campground have increased 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 unpredictably, the peak should be just around the corner. The colors we have now are still amazing and a walk along the new path on the South Shore is recommended.”

Mono County Glows!

Scarlet Gilia and aspen leaves - 10/1/2011 - © 2011 Alicia Vennos

Fall color has arrived officially in Mono County (home to Rock Creek, Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Mono Lake, Lee Vining Canyon, Lundy Canyon, Virginia Lakes, Twin Lakes and Bridgeport).

Alicia Vennos send in this report and photos taken over the weekend.  An early winter storm is just arriving, but we predict it won’t have much effect on the fall color, other than to dust high mountain peaks with snow, making for even more spectacular photographs and fall color views along the Eastern Sierra.

15-30% – Rock Creek –Half-way between Bishop and Mammoth, “Rock Creek is leading the charge  with aspen about 5 miles up Rock Creek Road deep yellows, oranges and reds.  The hiking

Aspen at Rock Creek Lake (10/1/2011) © 2011 Alicia Vennos

trail from East Fork to Rock Creek Lake is highly recommended!

 

Lundy Falls (10/1/2011) © 2011 Alicia Vennos


Lundy Canyon (10/1/2011) © 2011 Alicia Vennos

0-15% – Lundy Canyon – Lundy is just begun to turn, with rich gold and some orange.  Along the Lundy Canyon hiking trail, the waterfalls are still amazingly full for October, and wildflowers continue to bloom, standing out against yellow aspen leaves – a rare photo opportunity.

Mono County Near Lundy Canyon (10/1/2011) © 2011 Alicia Vennos

15-30% — June Lake Loop is beginning to shift from yellow-green to orange.

30-50% – Parker Bench – Above June Lake, Parker Bench is showing a stunning blend of orange, red and yellow.

15 – 30% – U.S. 395 (Mono County) – Many of the aspen-lined creek beds (above Crowley, Laurel Canyon, just south of Mammoth and north of Lee Vining) along U.S. 395 are streaking the mountainside orange, red and yellow.  Locals predict colder temperatures now arriving from an Alaskan storm, forecast to arrive on Wednesday, may hasten the fall color peak throughout the region, though it’s been our experience that storms only affect currently changed leaves, not those that haven’t turned.  That means there’s lots of color yet to show throughout Mono County and the storm otherwise won’t reduce the color much.

30-50% – Virginia Lakes – High winds knocked turned leaves off the aspen surrounding Little Virginia Lake on Monday, color spotter Carolyn Webb reports.  However, there’s still lots of color to be appear or be seen in the Virginia Lakes area.  Carolyn writes, “Aspen are quite beautiful up and down the Virginia Lakes road to about 1 mile from the resort.  At nearby Conway Summit, “aspen in protected areas are still yellow with some gold going into rusts.”