I just got back from the Eastern Sierra. I was in much need of some time out of the vortex and a friend of mine wanted to see what all the fuss was about with the Eastern Sierra in the fall. So the past 3 days was a win-win-win situation…the third win was the timing for some amazing fall colors. So to help out anyone else heading that way, here is a location report on the status of the colors:
From Monday, October 6th
Yosemite: Saddlebag Lake: Past Peak – Drove out to the lake on the way to Bishop. Didn’t have time to hike around the lake but talked to a hiker who just returned from the north end of the lake and he said most of the shrubs were fading. The few low shrubs that turn color along the road to the lake were already brown or down.
Tioga Road East of Pass: Peak – The usual patches along Tioga Road were either approaching or at Peak. While not as spectacular as I’ve seen it in past years, they make the descent down to Lee Vining more enjoyable.
Big Bend Campground, Lee Vining: Peak – As you descend Tiago Road, you will see a wonderful grove down in the valley near Big Bend Campground. While I didn’t drive into the campground, you could tell from 120 that things were near peak with lots of yellow. Looked like it should still be nice to or thru the upcoming weekend.
June Lake Loop, South of Lee Vining: Peak – As we drove thru the loop, the colors were starting to reach peak. They were solid groves still and looked like they would make it past this coming weekend.
North Lake, Bishop: Past Peak – The ribbon of color that descends down the northern slope of North Lake is entirely brown. There are still some nice yellow and a few orange aspen along the lake, but the area has largely faded and I doubt the much will exist by the weekend.
Lake Sabrina, Bishop: Past Peak – First I was shocked at how low the lake was! The majority of the color along the lake was fading or fallen. There was still some patches along the road approaching the lake. I expect what is left to fade or fall quickly.
From Tuesday, October 7th
South Lake Road, Bishop: Peak – The groves along the road are mostly yellow with some hints of orange. This is worth the drive, not sure how long it will last…might start to fade quickly by the weekend.
South Lake, Bishop: Past Peak – Again, shocking how low this lake is! Most of the shrubs along the north side of the lake are turning brown. There are a few aspen right at the trailhead which were coming into peak, but I suspect will fade quickly.
McGee Creek, South of Mammoth: Peak – McGee Creek is always such a shocking drive, as there is nothing as you start ascending the road, you then round the bend after McGee Creek Campground and the view down the valley just stuns you…especially this year! everything after the campground is in yellow with patches of orange. At the trailhead you can take the left trail which just loops you down along the aspen grove near the creek or you can take the right trail which takes you higher up the ridge and back into canyon as it follows the creek. As you round the bend of in the canyon wall, there is more color everywhere! There are patches of groves that are falling or have fallen, but the hike in should still be worth it thru the weekend.
From Wednesday, October 8th
Rock Creek Road, Tom’s Place: Peak – There is plenty of color in the lower part of Rock Creek Road. I drove thru both Iris Meadow and Big Meadow Campgrounds, still plenty of yellow aspen but they were falling in some places. Lots of color all the way up to Rock Creek Lake. The colors at the lake are already starting to fade though. And if you continue all the way up to Little Lakes Valley trailhead, it will be mostly fallen leaves. There is little color up in the Little Lakes Valley…though the views are spectacular non the less!
NOTE: there is road construction on the Rock Creek Road; Looked like they were trying to finish up all the new paving before this weekend. You’ll have a wonderful road with just one or two narrow bridges still under repair.
Conway Summit, North of Lee Vining: Peak – The aspen groves at conway summit were very patchy: there were some areas already stripped of leaves, others were strong yellow and touches of orange, and some green still. Since this area can get hit by wind hard, it tough to predict how long the groves will last.
Virginia Lakes Road, North of Lee Vining: Past Peak – After you drive thru the edge of Conway Summit, you round the bend and see the aspen groves to the north of Virginia Lakes Road and they are large patches that are already down with the rest in yellow and orange. I doubt this area will make it much past this weekend en masse. There are still some strong Aspen groves at Virginia Lake, but there is little color between the large groves and the lake.
Twin Lakes, Bridgeport: Peak – I didn’t have the time to drive up to Twin Lakes but from Bridgeprort and 395 north of town, you could see the Twin Lakes are was popping with color. I would estimate that it should still be peaking this weekend.
Sonora Pass: Peak – As I ascended Sonora Pass, the aspen groves near the road by
were ablaze with Yellow. As I continue to ascend, the patches of aspen all the way up to the summit were yellow. As you descend the summit on the west side, the grove just past Blue Canyon was also in peak yellow color. Lovely sight if you don’t mind the 26% grade of this road!
See more of my photos from the Eastern Sierra in the Archive.