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Leaf Peeping Road Trip to the Eastern Sierra

Yellow aspens were leading the charge at the Fall color parade on the east side of the Sierra, not as magnificent of a display in the past, but still beautiful and well worth the drive. We did a bunch of driving with stops at Tioga Pass area, Virginia Lakes, Lundy, and June Lake Loop. Just in case you might like to skip the 13 hours that we spent on our car adventure, I would like to invite you to join me via the blog instead.

Where: Inyo National Forest
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Range: 7,200’ – 9,800’
Date: October 10, 2017

We loaded up my rig with gals and their cameras, headed east over Tioga Road, then wandered around to check out the fall color. Our conditions were not ideal. The wind had recently blown hard and many trees were naked as a result of this. Smoke from the many fires hazed the skies, but we still found some beautiful colors along our route. Our first stop was at the 9,000′ elevation marker at Warren Canyon as you drop off east of the Tioga Pass.

We headed north on Hwy 395, then up Virginia Lakes Road to the end to check out Big Virginia Lake (9,820′ elevation).


Big Virginia Lake (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

On out way back down, color along Virginia Creek (9,191′ elevation) caught our eye.


Virginia Creek (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

We drove south on Hwy 395, then headed up Lundy Lake Road, mading a stop at Mono County’s Campground (7,600′ elevation). There is something about those aspens that border the dirt road in this stretch that is magical.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Photo by Debra Sutherland


We didn’t drive too far up the road until we reached Lundy Lake (7,808′ elevation).


Lundy Lake (Photo by Debra Sutherland)

Heading through the town of Lundy and just above, we reached the Beaver Ponds (8,040′ elevation) but had a surprise to see that the water was lower than we had seen in these ponds so we didn’t have as amazing reflections as we have had in the past.

We hopped drove on up to the end of the road and the Lundy Canyon Trailhead parking area, heading up that trail. We only hiked a total of 1.36 miles roundtrip, but wanted to get to a viewpoint to see the waterfalls and shoot down Lundy Canyon toward Lundy Lake (high point of 8,360′ elevation).

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Photo by Debra Sutherland

We hopped back in the car and continued south on Hwy 395 to June Lake Loop. We could spot the “streams” of yellow and orange aspen on the hillsides long before we reached Grant Lake. We made our first good stop at Silver Lake (7,224′ elevation).

Photo by Debra Sutherland

As we were heading back to the car, we saw this man land a fish and the paparazzi (us) couldn’t resist taking his picture.

Photo by Gail Gilbert










Our last stop was Gull Lake (7,621′ elevation).

Gull Lake Aspens (Photo by Gail Gilbert)

Leaves were in a wide variety of fall color on our trip. The wind had stripped some trees bare and some had yet to turn. They were all beautiful and well worth our gal’s leaf peeping road trip. Later this week one of the gals headed up near Bridgeport to Twin Lakes where the color was amazing and reports from Lundy and June Lake continue to get even better. With a possible storm coming in the end of this week, colorful leaves could be stripped off of the trees, but that color will hopefully continue to move down in elevation and closer to home. There are already some beautiful trees in people’s yards in the Oakhurst area showing off for us.

Photo by Debra Sutherland

Maps and Profile:

Lundy Canyon Hike to the Waterfalls Doarama

Lundy and Virginia Lakes Topographic Map

Lundy Canyon Trail Hike Topographic Map

Lundy Canyon Trail Profile

June Lake Loop Topographic Map

Prior Blogs in this area:

Leaf Peeping with Sally at Convict Lake October 3, 2017

Leaf Peeping on the East Side: Convict Lake, June Lake Loop, Lundy Canyon October 13, 2015

Adventure to Convict Lake with Mom and a Horseback Ride up McGee Canyon July 16, 2015

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Sierra News Online

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