As summer starts winding down in the Eastern Sierra’s something magical starts to happen. The days stay warm and the nights become long & brisk, good signs for a true fall season. Being between 5,000 and 10,000 feet the Quaking Aspens start to change from green to yellow, golden and amber. The colors peak like clockwork when the temps start to change, so do the leaves. Aspens along with Cottonwoods and Willows change colors in the Eastern Sierra, putting on a show for all.
It really all depends when the temperature changes. As early as late August, the colors start in the higher elevations. In the June Lake Loop the colors turn usually from mid-September and peak all the way through mid-October. Fall colors are different every year being extremely vibrant or sometimes very dull. High Sierra the weather changes constantly which makes fall colors a bit unpredictable. Good leaf coloring weather is dry warm days and cold nights. Years with warm nights, wet days, early snows or a sudden frost can result is dull leaf colors.
Of course start off with the beautiful drive on the June Lake Loop. The loop (HWY 158) provides quick access to all four of our lakes. If you happen to be here in the fall I wouldn’t pass up our lakes at all! Each lake is special and has their own personal autumn look. Grant Lake known for the beautiful hillside that towers over Rattle Snake Cove. Silver Lake being a very popular spot for their surrounding Aspens that reflect off the glassy lake. Gull Lake is great for yellow colors against the Evergreen backdrop. June Lake is always a photographers favorite with the golden foliage contrast against the turquoise lake with Carson Peal in the backdrop.
To the north Lundy Canyon, Green Creek, Virginia Lakes, and Conway Summit never disappoint. Lundy Canyon is very popular for photographers and hikers alike with the golden trees surrounding shallow lakes, streams, and rushing waterfalls. Green Creek and Conway Summit are great for a scenic drive. Virginia Lakes is popular that for fishing and simply taking it all in from the shores of the lakes. Another peaceful fall fishing spot is Twin Lakes out of Bridgeport. The two large lakes surrounded by color, under the awe inspiring Sawtooth Mountain Range is a beauty to behold.
To the south of June Lake, McGee Creek is a must see. Hiking up this canyon through all the foliage is a must every autumn for visitors and locals alike. Convict Lake is a breeze of a hike with plenty of views. Rock Creek Canyon is a loved scenic drive by many. The drive up the canyon from Highway 395 is curved through Aspens ending at a scenic hiking trail.
If you will be traveling through Yosemite, Tuolumne Meadows is lovely in its golden style. If you want to venture off on a hike we recommend Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. It is a dazzling hike through fall foliage under the backdrop of the green giants. Park at Tuolumne Grove by Crane Flat. Tioga Pass on the east entrance of Yosemite is also a stunning drive.
Fall is not just about the leaves changing. Hiking, mountain bike riding, fishing and horseback riding are even better in the fall. Days are a pleasant warm making getting out into nature more enjoyable. Imagine trekking through vibrant Aspen meadows and fallen leaves or even mountain biking down a mountain side chasing the autumn sunset. Fall fishing is another great one to add to the to-do list. The Algae and weeds clear out, and the big fish start to move around the lakes, creeks, and rivers. The biggest fish in the loop are caught when the temperatures start to drop.Something magical starts happening in the fall, as if a calm starts to take over. It seems nature is winding down from a long hot summer as nights get cooler. Business slows down, kids go back to school, and the Town of June Lake slowly starts going back to quite quaint living.