5 Awesome Outings In The Eastern Sierra’s, CA
While we’ve been whittling away our time with exciting bed adventures, we’ve had to stay put in our current campground to receive all our Sleep Number packages (we’re still waiting for the bladder). This is a fabulous location so I’m not complaining, plus we’ve been joined by the lovely Lu & Terry so we’ve managed to squeeze in a BUNCH of outings and social time…and my camera has been going nuts! In order to get somewhat caught up and share a sense of our recent adventures, I’ve decided to list some of our fav spots from the past week:
1/ Hike A Mountain Lake
One of my fav things to do in the Sierra’s is hike to a mountain lake. There are literally thousands of pristine alpine lakes in this area, hidden by miles of great hiking trails. You could backpack for years and still not cover it all! I can’t claim to have seen them all, or even to have hiked the best ones, but we’ve managed a couple of sweet trails within a short drive of our campsite right here at June Lake.
Parker Lake is a short (and fairly easy) ~4-mile rountrip from the north end of June Lake Loop, while Yost Lake is a steep (can you say 1,790 feet of elevation gain?), but very scenic 7.6 roundtrip mile hike near the middle of the loop. We did both, catching the trail early at 9AM so we had the whole thing to ourselves. Views, colors, lakes and just fabulous all-around hiking. Definitely recommended!
2/ Catch A Sunrise At Mono Lake
Mono Lake is an ancient, super-salty alkaline lake with its own private eco-system. The 65 square miles of aqua-blue waters dominate the view as you crest the mountain pass coming south into Lee Vining. It’s well worth visiting the fabulous visitor center and exploring the shoreline, but my absolute fav thing to do is catch a sunrise at the South Tufa’s. The tufas are huge calcium carbonate spires that transform from dark sentinels to red-orange sculptures with the first light of the day, and if you’re a photographer or even just a lover-of-beauty it doesn’t get any better than this. Plan to arrive at least an hour before sunset and stay ’till well after sunrise so you can catch the whole show. Follow your outing with a sumptuous breakfast at the Silver Lake Cafe right on June Lake Loop (the BEST omelettes in the Sierras, I guarantee you!).
3/ Take A Stunning Summit at 11,120 Feet
There are alot of passes in the Sierras, but few hiking trails have as much to offer as the Virginia Lakes trail to Summit Pass (more on this trail HERE and HERE). This may very simply be one of the absolute BEST hikes I’ve ever taken. The trail starts at 9,840 feet at the lovely Virginia Lakes and goes from pristine lake, to another oh-my-goodness-gorgeous pristine lake, to yet another be-still-my-beating-heart lake, to yet another oh-take-me-to-heaven lake…with creek crossings, aspens and color thrown in…ending up in a starkly beautiful climb to a summit with a view of it all. WOW! It’s a hard climb, and you want to be well acclimatized before you do it, but it is totally worth the effort. Catch the trail from Conway Summit off the 395 (follow Virginia Lakes Road 6 miles west to the end parking lot), and get there early morning so you have the whole glorious thing to yourself.
4/ Dig Some Cool Geology At Devil’s Postpile
The entire Sierra Nevada range was formed over millions of years ago and hides loads of fabulous geological gems. One of these, and I consider it a “must see” are the zany 60-foot basalt columns of Devils’ Postpile. Located around a 40-min drive from Mammoth Lakes in the Red Meadows Valley, the columns are the remains of a basalt eruption 100,000 years ago. A confluence of perfect conditions meant that the lava cooled in strikingly consistent hexagonal shapes. From the monument you can take an easy 5-mile roundtrip hike to the 101-foot Rainbow Falls. (Note/ In summer access to Devil’s Postpile is via shuttle bus, but this time of year you can drive in your own car).
5/ Gawk At Fall Colors In A Canyon
There are lots of fabulous “hidden” canyons in-between the majestic Sierra Mountains. Many of these are lined with aspens and lead out to creeks and waterfalls. In fall, as the trees shed their chlorophyll, they become blankets of orange and yellow, perfect spots to take a break and gawk at the colors. One of my fav hikes for this is Lundy Canyon, just a few miles north of Mono Lake. A short 3-mile round-trip from the parking lot takes you to a viewpoint worth millions. If you’re feeling strong you can keep going for many miles to higher waterfalls and deeper into the Hoover wilderness.
Just a small sampling of the many, many things to do in this area…and we’re not done yet 🙂
P.S. ALL the above activities are paw-friendly, so feel free to bring doggie along for the ride
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Susan Crofoot Davis says
You mentioned being the only hikers on a trail. I have never been to these places in California, but when I was visiting for a summer in Utah I went with a friend into the Uinta Mountains (by foot and on horseback), and once we met the ranger on his way out. He said we were the only humans in the area we were heading into. I remember at the time thinking how many millions of people on earth who would have liked to have been in our shoes.
I LOVE that feeling of being alone in the wilderness and consider it such a treat when I am. Totally agree it’s very special!
Gosh I LOVE that area…and your pics are fabulous! Can’t wait till we can get the RV to the Sierras and plop ourselves down for a good while. Thanks for the hiking tips!
You guys would love it here. It’s starting to get colder now (looks like a cold front coming in next week) so almost time for us to move on, but it sure is special in the fall!
Donna K says
Devil’s Postpile is one place we have never stopped…don’t know why! I think next time we will. I LOVE all your photos. The picture of Polly looking out from the summit is a favorite. I always wonder if dogs look at a scene like that and appreciate its beauty. Poppy sure likes to look at things and I just wonder what they are thinking.
You know I often wonder the same thing myself. Most of the time I think Polly is just looking for squirrels hahaha, but I like to think she admires the beauty too. Definitely recommend the visit to Devil’s Postpile. It’s an easy 1/2 mile walk to the monument and dogs are welcome.
We have had a great time in the Eastern Sierras thanks to all your suggestions Nina. You have definitely captured the beauty of this area with your stunning photos and your wonderful prose. 🙂
So happy to have you guys here with us. That’s a treat for us too 🙂
Been all those places except Parker and Yost. Very cool seeing them through someone else’s eyes. I have a beautiful picture of a sunrise over Mono I took on my way to Devil’s Postpile. In the summer you have get there before 7:30 to beat the road closure and avoid taking a tram. Then I fished the San Joaquin. Looks like you guys are having a great time. And once again, the pictures are fantastic!
Good point about the summer. I should have mentioned that they do a shuttle during that time. One of these days I’ve got to start fishing…there is SO much fabulous fishing to do around here.
If my back surgery works and you guys make it back here next fall, I’d be happy to take you. I could even loan you some rods. It is a lot of fun and adds another dimension to just about anywhere you go.
Oh fabulous! All paws crossed for a good surgery & quick healing for you, and if we’re back in the area next year I will look you up.
great pics, more to add to my to do list for the west coast…hope you get your new bladder soon (I could sure use one)
Yeah, hoping the bladder shows up by Monday. Fingers and paws crossed!
That Parker Lake photo is beautiful! Love the reflection.
I have never heard of Devil’s Postpile. It looks like an awesome place with such unique landscapes.
Thanks for the heads up in that area. So much to do…so little time.
It’s a special little place. I didn’t know about it either until my friend (who lives here) told me about it. Great place to visit.
jil mohr says
ok it is now official…these places are on my list…
Russ Krecklow says
Nina, you have such wonderful pictures of one of our favorite areas! We’ve never been able to do much hiking there, but we sure do enjoy seeing those things through your lens! June Lake is as far as we’ve been, so thanks for sharing what it looks like away from there! We’re still waiting for our new bladder, too, but I’m not sure we’ve stayed in one place long enough for it to catch up to us! LOL
Glad you enjoyed the post. And funny little comment on the bladder 🙂
john aka Heyduke says
thanks for sharing an area we missed…
Jerry and Suzy says
We’ve been out of serious hiking range for a long time, and don’t expect to get back. Thank you for carrying us along in your backpacks to see these gorgeous mountain lakes and views!
Happy to have ya along for the ride 🙂
Wow, beautiful! great photography. The cold front that you are mentioning worries me a little bit. Hope the scenery colors don’t change much as we head there in four weeks.
Well, the colors are actually late this year mostly (I think) because it’s been warmer than usual. So, I’m thinking this next cold-front will really jump-start a massive change. The change does go fast here though. Usually just a couple of weeks and most of the color is gone. But you never know…each year is different.
Bear Tracks Blog says
Fantastic post. Wish we weren’t two weeks behind you. I’m afraid that in these two short weeks the weather will prevent us from following your route. We’re still trying to decide what route to take back to SoCal. Would love to meet you and Paul someday! You certainly inspire us! -Linda & Mike
The weather is definitely starting to change. Got our first real “chill” last night (down to 27) and looks like next week is getting chillier. But you never know in the mountains. It could be a couple of days of chill followed by great weather. We were here the very last week of Oct last year and we definitely had some really cold nights (around 17, one night!), but we also had some wonderfully warm afternoons. Just keep an eye on the forecast and you might still hit some great weather!
Rainer Mueller says
We took a “friend” with us this summer, here’s a photo of him when we were at Devil’s Postpile in July.
Very cute! Nina
We did our own awesome outing, meeting the boys at Elite Repair ! Marty found the root cause of our airbag suspension issue in three hours that our CA repair guys failed to even notice it. He knows what is talking about. Amazing guy! We did mention you as our referral and we thank you for that.
Now that is indeed AWESOME! So happy Marty could help you out and you had a good experience.
Not only Awesome but also Peace of Mind !