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Home » Blogs » Adventures with Candace » Leaf Peeping on the East Side: Convict Lake, June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon

Leaf Peeping on the East Side: Convict Lake, June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon

I could hear the east side of the Sierra calling me. I had been hearing some great reports of those aspens turning their orange-reddish colors in some spots and wow, were those reports right!

Distance: About 300 Miles Roundtrip

Difficulty: Easy

Elevational Range: 7,200′ to 8,980′

Date: October 13, 2015

We headed east over Tioga Rd., then south on Hwy 395 about 35 miles to Convict Lake Rd. They were still doing a little construction on the road, but the wait was a short one. We headed for Convict Lake, parking and walking around the 2 1/2 mile loop that goes around the lake, starting on the south side. We spotted some bright yellow colors toward the inlet to the lake and couldn’t wait to check it out up close.

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Early Morning Convict Lake Reflections

There is quite a bit of interesting history in this area. It is said that the local Indians called this lake Wit-si-nap. The present day name of Convict Lake was named after a group of inmates escaped from a prison in Carson City in 1871 and ambushed Sheriff George Hightower and the posse members who were tracking them.  Robert Morrison, a merchant from Benton, and other posse members encountered the escapees on what is now known as Convict Creek but it was called Monte Diablo Creek back then.  In the encounter, Morrison and Mono Jim were killed.  The large peak that towers above Convict Lake was named Morrison Peak after Robert Morrison and the smaller one below it after Mono Jim.

This stretch of the trail had recently been improved and we even came across a trail crew making it even better.  There were areas along the trail where we started getting wonderful pictures of the yellow aspens reflecting in the lake.

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As the trail headed made its way around the west side of the lake, it threaded its way through an aspen grove.

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Although the aspen trunks and defused light was gorgeous, looking up gave me a whole different perspective.

Looking at the Sky Through the Aspen Trees

Looking at the Sky Through the Aspen Trees

As I worked my way around the west side of this grove, I got a better appreciation for their beautiful orage, red and yellow colors.

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Photo by Gail Gilbert

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The trail started along a boardwalk area where the creek had been flowing wide during the spring.

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Boardwalk Trail Through Aspens

This boardwalk crossed over the creek in a couple of places and the water was flowing.  How about a short video to give you the feeling? Fall Color Along the Creek Above Convict Lake

The north side of the lake was much warmer and dryer.  There weren’t any of those colorful aspens along this stretch but it was still beautiful. We made our way back to the car, grabbed our ice chests and found a wonderful lunch spot along the lake.  Not a bad view?

Lunch Spot at Convict Lake

Lunch Spot at Convict Lake

It was time for us to move on and we headed north on Hwy 395 about 20 miles to Hwy 58 and the June Lake Loop.  We made a stop at Gull Lake but the light wasn’t really with us.  We made a stop at Silver Lake where yellow aspen leaves were floating on the lake.

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Aspen Leaves Floating on Silver Lake

The road parallels Rush Creek and we saw many places to pull out along the road and take a closer look at these aspens.  They were really just getting started although there were individual trees that showed some of that orange color.  Some were still very green.

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We had heard that Grant Lake was low but wasn’t prepared for how low it was.  We also usually get some nice color in this area between the road and lake but it wasn’t worth our stop on this day.  We got back on Hwy 395 and headed for Lundy Canyon.  We drove north past Tioga Rd., past Mono Lake about 28 miles to the turnoff.  We started seeing gorgeous colorful aspens toward the bottom, probably the best display in the Lundy Canyon area.

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We headed toward the Beaver Pond to check it out but the trees in that area hadn’t really turned.

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We passed some yellow colored trees in the campground on our way back and swung through on our way down.

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A fall color trip to the east side isn’t complete without a short stop along Tioga Rd. and the base of Warren Canyon at the 9,000; elevation mark to check out those aspens.

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We were thrilled with the fall color that we saw on this trip.  It is fun for us to take multiple trips over to the east side to watch it progress.  Soon it will be time to check out some other areas closer to home but I hate to miss opportunities to get over to the east this time of the year because soon, Tioga Rd. will be closed and we won’t have that option.

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Adventure to Convict Lake with Mom and a Horseback Ride up McGee Canyon July 26, 2015

Convict Lake Resort Home Page

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