I’ve lived in California for 30 years but I only discovered fall colors in California last year! Let’s face it, when it comes to fall, we don’t really think of California! But from Mammoth Lakes to Hope Valley, fall is very real in this state. This year, I just returned from another amazing trip to Mammoth Lakes and will guide you on where to find fall colors in California. I will also walk you through a list of activities to experience while in this region. Take the Path Less Traveled and Read the full blog post by Preethi Chandrasekhar
Where to find Fall Colors in Mammoth Lakes
Convict Lake is my favorite place to view fall colors in California. Just about 25 minutes away from Mammoth Lakes, Convict Lake is filled with water as clear as glass, and has an easy three-mile long trail that you can hike around the lake. The backdrop is the Sierra Nevada 12,241′ peak Mount Morrison! Convict Lake was originally carved out by glaciers, and at up to 140’ deep in some places, it’s one of the deepest lakes in the region. So what does that mean for you? Spend at least half a day here, either kayaking/canoeing out on the lake and/or hiking the loop. You won’t regret it. Fall colors here are peaking right now so if you go in the next few days you’re bound to catch some color!
History of Convict Lake
Convict Lake got its name from a group of escaped convicts who were trapped in this area in 1871. Most of them were however caught. This lake is also great for trout fishing! Cabins can also be rented near the lake if you wish to stay here for a night to experience fall colors in California!
June Lake Loop
The next stop to see fall colors in California at Mammoth Lakes should be the June Lake Loop. California State Route 158 loops away from U.S. Highway 395 for 16 miles, then returns. It follows a horseshoe shaped canyon containing four lakes, surrounded by a dramatic mountainous backdrop. Within this canyon, among the lakes and streams, exists a modest yet full-serviced community, available to vacationers in all four seasons of the year. This region is also well known for trout fishing so don’t be surprised to see a lot of fishing lines in the water! Kayaking and hiking are also really popular. If you come in winter, skiing is the must-do activity in this region.
This is the first lake you’ll hit in the loop depending on which direction you enter and you can spot the colors right away. There are a few places to stop off the loop where you can enjoy the colors. Alternatively you can also head down to the June Lake beach!
Gull Lake is the second lake on the loop after June Lake and also the smallest of the four lakes. There’s a cute downtown community between June and Gull Lake! Gull Lake is a favorite of many fisherman, as it consistently yields good-sized trout. A healthy population of crayfish and a few small Sacramento perch reside in the lake as well.
To see the fall colors in California at Mammoth Lakes, stop by the Gull Lake Campground – the views are incredible.
If you want to see fall colors in California, then don’ miss visiting Silver Lake on the loop! I highly recommend kayaking here, the water is calm and still without waves. If you’re a beginner, this is one of the best places to try it!
Also imagine kayaking out on the lake and viewing fall colors from a different perspective! You can rent the kayaks at Silver Lake Resort and even grab a bite at their cafe!
For those that want to hike, the Rush Creek Trailhead is located near the resort at the north end of the lake, providing trail access to the Rush Creek Basin, The Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. The Rush Creek Trail interconnects with the Pacific Crest Trail system and the John Muir Trail, and the local backcountry is fabulous. At the trailhead, the Frontier Pack Station is on hand to provide horses and mules, with packages ranging from local day rides to extended pack trips into the wilderness.
This is the fourth and the largest lake. If you get this far, check out the lush aspen groves of Parker Bench!
The next stop to view fall colors in California at Mammoth Lakes is the area around McGee Creek. The creek itself is filled with color and if you drive a little further across the bridge you will see more color on the right. Turn right at the first road you see and stop by the house you see on your right. From here, you can walk to the backside of the creek and explore the area a bit more.
If you keep driving past McGee Creek, take the Crawley Lake exit. At the intersection of Juniper drive and Crowley lane there’s a bunch of streets that have some amazing color right now!
Rock Creek Lake
You will start seeing colors from the very beginning of the drive to Rock Creek Lake. Enjoy the drive and pull out safely to view/take pics of the color! Once you get up to the lake itself, you will see a lot of the color has gone and the temperature is visibly colder.
>> Read the full post about Fall Colors in the Eastern Sierra at www.theeagertraveler.com and follow on Instagram @eagertravele.