Ablaze with fall color, these are 3 Eastern Sierra canyons you need to see right now

You know the old saw “he who hesitates is lost”? It couldn’t be truer of the fall color showing right now in the northern stretch of the Eastern Sierra.

California Fall Color has issued its “go now” alerts for McGee Creek, the June Lakes, Conway Summit and other stops you’ll find by driving along Highway 395.

Recent photos taken from Big Pine to Lake Tahoe show that peak colors have arrived and will continue to pop in mid- and lower elevations. Yosemite Valley also adds color from sugar maples and other forest foliage.

High-elevation lakes along Bishop Creek and the Virginia Lakes area are past their peak, but there are plenty of stops where you can take your camera and your hiking boots.

Here are some “go-now” hot spots from the leaf-peeping website and its photographers (check out the photo gallery) who are out snapping real-time pictures of the autumn glow.


--June Lake Loop/Highway 158: Photographer Alicia Vennos was out Wednesday and giving big woo-hoos to colors you can see right now along the June Lake Loop, the website reports.

It’s just 20 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and a great spot to capture colors in the reflection of the waters at Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake.

--McGee Creek Canyon: This is always a hikers’ paradise, but more so now that the aspens are showing their yellows and golds.

You’ll find the turnoff 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes; from there park at the trailhead at the end of the dirt road to the canyon.

Colors should be sticking around for the next few weeks too.

--Convict Lake: The foliage here has turned, and it becomes more intense each day. California Fall Color reports that if conditions hold, it could be a “long peak” time at this area six miles south of Mammoth Lakes.

For those with fishing gear, the lake’s fall derby called Ambush at the Lake continues through Nov. 15.

--Big Pine Creek: This canyon is way south of the fall color spots mentioned above, which makes it much closer (about a four-hour drive) to Los Angeles.

Go to Big Pine, between Lone Pine and Bishop, and turn left to see the colors in this canyon. You can hike the North Fork; it’s strenuous but perfect for those who want a workout while leaf-peeping.

It’s a strenuous 9-mile trek -- but you don’t have to do it all.

--Mist Falls and Aspendell: Aspen forests are glowing gold now at these two spots not far from the town of bishop. Check out the groves above Bishop Creek Lodge and the little community of Aspendell.

Both are about 8,400 feet in elevation, which seems to be the sweet spot for colors in this area right now.

Go to California Fall Color for more “go now” destinations and download an easy-to-follow map Eastern High Sierra Fall Color Guide.