It's not even officially fall yet and more reports of fall color peaking in the Eastern Sierra are coming in. Last week it was Bishop Creek Canyon, which is still going strong (see photos from the weekend here with more below), and now there's Rock Creek Canyon, Virginia Lakes, and the Sherwins, all in Mono County.
This has prompted California Fall Color blogger John Poimiroo to issue his second round of "Go Now" alerts of the season.
Rock Creek Canyon
Located off the 395 Highway between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes, Rock Creek Canyon is the most accessible of the three. The drive is a relatively straight 10-mile uphill route toward the canyon's eponymous lake at around 10,000 feet elevation, where conditions are reported to be near peak. Aspens fill a lot of the view and there's plenty of opportunity to stop, pullover, and take photos.
While up there, make sure to take advantage of Pie in the Sky Café at Rock Creek Lakes Resort, which this year is staying open until October 15. Pie service starts at 10:30 a.m., and it's not uncommon it to be sold out by early afternoon. At the bottom of the canyon is Tom's Place Resort, which has some pretty great pancakes.
About one hour north of Rock Creek on the 395 is Virginia Lakes, another fall color hotspot that has seen recent good color. Earlier this week, Carolyn Webb of Virginia Lakes Resort reported vibrant color to Poimiroo at California Fall Color. Reached by phone today, she said a cold snap has affected some areas, but there's still good color around, especially by Green Lakes Road (which is also referred to as Dunderberg Meadow).
Fall color can go away in an instant if a storm blows leaves off trees. There's an 80 percent chance of snow Saturday night, which could either hurt the color, or make it look even more vibrant.
Nevertheless, the area is great for hiking and Webb has put together a nice guide on her website. One of the most popular is the 5.5-mile round trip hike to Summit Pass, which takes you by three lakes and gives a great view of Summit Lake and the valley below.
Much of Mammoth Lakes is not showing color yet, but Poimiroo is reporting The Sherwins above 8,500 feet as peaking. This is the only color spot not accessible by vehicle. To get there, you're looking at a two-mile steep climb before reaching that elevation. Snow is also predicted for Saturday evening in this area.
Despite splashes of color coming earlier than usual, there's still a lot that has yet to turn. "I think what's reassuring is that the next three weeks will be beautiful," predicted Alicia Vennos, a Mono County tourism spokesperson. She and others report lots of lime green shading, just waiting to turn yellow, russet, orange, and red.
Additionally, Bishop Creek Canyon continues its early peak. Poimiroo issued eight "Go Now" alerts Thursday night.