Based on social media feeds alone, it seems like everyone in America has a tree changing colors in their front yard or is at least taking a trip somewhere that looks like a fall postcard. Despite the flood of fall pictures, recipes, and sales taking over your social media feeds and local ads, there is nowhere in the country that has as fall colors like the Eastern Sierra mountains.
The Eastern Sierra region is anchored near the Mono and Inyo county line with the John Muir wilderness area in the South running up past the Ansel Adams Wilderness to just beyond the Hoover Wilderness area in the North.
It’s not just the plentiful wilderness areas and scenic mountains and lakes that make the Eastern Sierra region the best place in the U.S. to appreciate fall colors though. The reason that the aspen, cottonwood, and willow trees in the region change their colors as brightly as they do is that the Eastern Sierra region’s warm Autumn days and cool nights with little moisture in between creates ideal conditions for the leaves to turn brilliant colors.
With Mammoth Lakes squarely in the middle of the Eastern Sierra, there’s no better place to appreciate the best fall leaves in all of America. Here are a few trails in the Mammoth Lakes area to get you started!
Just south of Mammoth Lakes, the Convict Lake trail, which loops around the lake it is named after, is a family-friendly hike of only two miles. It’s a good thing the hike is only two miles, because the shoreline and lake full of rainbow and brown trout provide enough activities during any season to fill up an entire day.
Plus, the views of Mt. Morrison and Laurel Mountain towering in the distance along with the golden aspen trees in the area will put any postcard you’ve ever seen the shame.
Moving further North of Mammoth Lakes and towards June lake is the Parker Lake trail. Although this trail has a similarly magnificent mountain lake just like the Convict Lake trail, the 3.6-mile trails is slightly harsher than the Convict Lake loop. Although still welcoming to all skill levels, the Parker Lake trail ascends 315 feet in the first half-mile, making it a challenge for some hikers.
The trail soon mellows out though and cuts through aspen groves and in between colorful mountain peaks and ends with a jaw-dropping view of Parker lake, peak and Mount Wood in the distance.
With the fall colors, soaring mountains, and pristine mirror-lake surface you’ll be hard pressed to find a better view in all the Eastern Sierra during peak fall foliage season.
Don’t want to leave Mammoth Lakes to enjoy the Eastern Sierra’s fall foliage? We can’t blame you.
Fortunately, Reds Meadow is one of the most complete and varied hiking areas in all of the Eastern Sierra and has all the trails and trees you need for a complete day of fall foliage. Thanks to the seven campgrounds in the area you’ll have an easy time spending the night there too.
Reds Meadow offers easy hikes like 1.35 mile hike to the Devils Postpile or you might find yourself at Rainbow falls where you’ll be rewarded with the powerful falls at the end of the trail. Although parts of the Reds Meadow area have been lost to fires over the past few decades, you will not be disappointed by the fall brilliance that’s within easy reach of Mammoth lakes and Reds Meadow.
No matter where you go in the Eastern Sierra you’re guaranteed to be met with brilliant fall colors like nowhere else in America, so start planning your trip now before the season passes! If you find that you could use some gear for the trail, no matter what it is, stop by ASO Mammoth and make sure you have everything you need to enjoy the best colors in the country!