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Category: Fall colors

Fall comes to Icehouse Canyon in the San Gabriels

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[Click here to see photos of the trail from Icehouse Canyon to Cucamonga Peak.]

Need a fall-colors fix that doesn't involve flying east?

Head to Icehouse Canyon in the Angeles National Forest above Mount Baldy Village, one of my favorite hiking spots, where a short stroll up a rocky wash leads you to the refreshing pools of a fast-moving stream. In autumn, big-leaf maples and willows lend a golden glow to the lower canyon, and temperatures remain cool (at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, it was 55 degrees at the trailhead).

Even on this day in late October, some trees still had their leaves, and the brisk air -- perfect for hiking -- hinted at winter. It's a slog up the canyon to Icehouse Saddle -- just under four miles with 2,600 feet of gain one-way -- but the views in this forested area get better the higher you climb.

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Snow falling on Sierra aspen

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On our annual fall trip to the Eastern Sierra last week, we looked forward to escaping Santa Ana winds in exchange for cool, crisp days — perfect for hiking and the final fishing of the season. We got more than we bargained for. Within a few days, we experienced a temperature difference of about 80 degrees. The San Gabriel Valley was hovering at around 100 when we left, and two days later a cold front from Alaska hit the Mammoth Lakes area with temps in the 20s. It snowed about 4 inches. The shot above is of the Sherwins from Old Mammoth Road on Oct. 11. Although it's in the 60s during the day right now, it's staying cold at night and at this rate, opening day of ski season at Mammoth Mountain may come earlier than Nov. 13.

Fall color was nearly peaking in the areas we visited: the San Joaquin River, Rock Creek Canyon, Rush Creek, Hot Creek and Bishop Creek Canyon. Snow amidst the vibrant yellow, orange and amber of aspens, cottonwoods and willows made for some fine leaf-peeping photo opportunities.

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Fall colors peak in the Eastern Sierra

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Have travel plans for the weekend?

The Eastern Sierra's fall color season is peaking now, more than during our previous report.

An update Monday from a Mammoth Lakes tourism website lists some of the locations in which the hues are most radiant.

They include Conway Summit and Leavitt Meadows in the Bridgeport area; the June Lake Scenic Loop and Carson Peak; the Mammoth Lakes Basin, Mammoth’s scenic loop and Laurel Canyon; Rock Creek Lake, and the roads leading to South, North and Sabrina lakes atop Bishop Creek Canyon.

The predominant color is yellow, but there are splashes of gold, red and orange. In fact, the Rock Creek Lake area is now a dazzling blend of all four colors.

How long will the season last? Till one of those long, cold windy spells rattles the leaves from their trees and hints at another impending season: winter.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo courtesy of Tom Loe/Sierra Drifters

Fall colors close to peaking in Eastern Sierra

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Jared Smith, owner of Parchers Resort high in Bishop Creek Canyon, provided Outposts with a taste of things to come the other day, and today reports the fall-colors season is beginning to peak and, in higher elevations, close to full splendor.

Nature photographers and hikers should travel to their favorite Eastern Sierra region within the next few weeks to take advantage of this brilliant phenomenon -- because once it peaks all it takes is a strong wind to tear  those colorful leaves from their branches.

Smith provided these images. At the top, the Table Mountain area along the east side of South Lake Road, at 8,845 feet. At bottom, the aspens and willows near Willow Campground, at 9,065 feet.

Below 8,000 feet it's still mostly green. But that will quickly change.

-- Pete Thomas

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Fall colors on display in Eastern Sierra

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Today marks the first day of fall, and Jared Smith, owner of Parchers Resort above Bishop in the Eastern Sierra, e-mailed to say the colors of leaves in Bishop Creek Canyon are beginning to change.

"We're still a ways off from the peak of the fall colors but there are some places where the color is already breathtaking," Smith writes. "I would expect the peak of the color at places like North Lake and Lake Sabrina, as well as the lower reaches of the South Fork of Bishop Creek, to really pop sometime between the Sept. 25 and Oct. 7."

Attached are two of Smith's images, offered as proof. They don't do justice to a phenomenon that, at its peak, splashes a radiant mosaic of yellow, red and orange across meadows and canyon walls.

The bottom photo was taken alongside South Lake, which sits at about 10,000 feet. The top photo was snapped from the road leading to the lake. We presume the fall color season is similarly close at hand in Rock Creek Canyon, along Lake Mary Rd. above Mammoth Lakes, and elsewhere in the region.

If you haven't witnessed the changing of the Eastern Sierra season, you've missed out on something truly breathtaking.

--Pete Thomas

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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