When you’re visiting somewhere with as many mountains, trees, and lakes as Mammoth has, you’ll be hard pressed to find a bad view during the fall. However, the difference between a pretty view and a spectacular one can be breathtaking, and here at ASO Mammoth we want everyone who visits Mammoth Lakes to see its best side.
To help you do just that, the ASO Mammoth team has put together a list of tips to find the best fall colors in Mammoth Lakes. Check it out below and stop by the ASO Mammoth shop for any outdoors gear or rentals you need on your way to the mountains!
Remember, Cool is the Rule
When you’re looking for fall colors, you’ll want to go where sustained cool weather is moving into the area for the first time. The reason why is that leaves change color in response to cool weather, specifically the cold nights that follow fall weather in the Eastern Sierra. For this reason, leaves typically change at higher elevations in the Eastern Sierra followed by a wave of color that travels down the mountains with the cooler temperatures throughout the fall.
For this reason, if the weather in the Mammoth Lakes area is unseasonably hot during the fall, then your best bet is to head to higher elevations. Conversely, if the weather has been cool throughout the area then you might get an excellent showing at lower elevations.
When it Doubt, Hike it Out
At the right time of year you won’t have to leave your car to enjoy Mammoth’s fall colors, but at other times you may have to earn your fall colors by hiking to either a higher elevation or to an alpine lake surrounded by spectacular colors.
Horseshoe Lake Loop
If you’re new to hiking or are short on time, then try Horseshoe Lake Loop in the Lakes Basin. Thanks to the lake that the loop is named after, hikers here will enjoy scenic views of the fall colors reflecting off of a beautiful lake. Plus, the 1.7-mile loop trail that circles Horseshoe Lake has a mostly dirt surface and is flat, which makes it an excellent hike for families and new hikers. Add in the fact that the trail is just at the end of Lake Mary Road, and Horseshoe Lake Loop becomes hard to beat.
If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, then travel about 20 minutes outside of Mammoth Lakes to McGee Canyon. You may have heard of McGee Canyon for its wildflowers in the spring, but one visit during the right time in the fall will make it hard to think of for anything but fall colors. The trail leading to McGee Canyon spans 14 miles, but don’t worry, you don’t have to hike all of that to see beautiful leaves. You can walk as much or little of the trail as you want and see fall colors the entire way!
Leave No Trace
If you’re visiting Mammoth Lakes to view the fall colors, then know that you’re not alone. People flock to Mammoth Lakes from all over the country to see the colors, and it only takes a few people to leave behind their trash or walk off trail to ruin the leaves for everyone. Whether you’re a long-time visitor or this is your first time in the Eastern Sierra, leave no trace of your visit on the environment. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone else a favor by doing your part to preserve the environment that makes Mammoth’s famous fall colors possible for years to come.