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