Beyond New England – The Ultimate Guide to Leaf-Peeping in Mammoth Lakes, California

STORY BY Debbie 27th August 2019

Autumn in Mammoth Lakes is a glorious time of year when the mountains and forests are painted gold, crimson and orange. Laced with rugged canyons carved by rushing streams, Mammoth Lakes is home to some of the finest leaf-peeping in the world. Its elevation range means that leaves start their turn in September and, depending on elevation, autumn foliage can be seen as late as November. The best way to experience autumn in Mammoth lakes is to set out on foot. Discover five of the top hiking trails for leaf-peeing in Mammoth Lakes.

Heart Lake
Aspen trees offer a colourful backdrop of autumn foliage in front of the blue of the Sierra Nevada sky on the Heart Lake Loop. From the Coldwater Campground Trailhead, take the Heart Lake trail to discover some of the best fall colours, as well as the Mammoth Consolidated Gold Mine. In one mile, you will see the heart-shaped lake beneath Sherwin Ridge and Pyramid Peak.

McGee Creek Canyon
In the spring, McGee Creek Canyon is an explosion of wildflowers, but in the autumn it becomes an idyllic golden paradise. The McGee Pass Trail follows the aspen-lined creek up to a number of alpine lakes and offers stellar mountain views. Steelhead Lake is a popular destination, and the trail continues on to Big McGee Pass.

Mammoth Rock
Traversing the steep flanks of the legendary Sherwin Range, the Mammoth Rock Trail rises briefly as it emerges from a pine forest. Within minutes, hikers get sweeping views of the valley and town of Mammoth Lakes below. Groves of swaying aspens and willows display their autumn radiance of yellows, oranges and rare reds against a backdrop of brown meadows and deep green forest.

Yost Lake on the June Lake Loop
Located just north of Mammoth Lakes, the Yost Creek – Fern Lake Trail is a scenic destination for a short-day hike in the June Lake Loop area. The trail is an unrelenting uphill climb though it is not technically challenging as its relatively short. Aspen trees lead the way and views of June and Gull Lakes are spectacular from the trail.

Lundy Canyon
Known for its wildflowers and blooming apens in the spring, Lundy Canyon is also spectacular for golden hues in the autumn. The trail gradually climbs the cayon past beaver ponds and cascading waterfalls. With aspen trees dramatically changing colours, it’s a great hike for leaf-peeping and photography.

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