By Sierra Rec Magazine
As seasoned hikers and nature enthusiasts, we understand the allure of the High Sierra. This rugged, breathtaking region in California offers an unparalleled natural beauty year-round. However, when autumn graces the High Sierra with its radiant palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, it transforms into a photographer’s paradise. In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through nine remarkable High Sierra trails that promise unforgettable autumnal views and endless opportunities for your fall photography adventure.
1. Lake Sabrina Trail: Nestled near Bishop, the Lake Sabrina Trail is a hidden gem of the Eastern Sierra. As seasoned hikers, we can attest that this trail is a must-visit in the fall. As you wander along the path, you’ll be enchanted by the vibrant golden aspens reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Sabrina. It’s a dreamy setting, perfect for capturing the essence of autumn in your photographs.
2. Lundy Canyon: Just a stone’s throw from Lee Vining, Lundy Canyon is a rugged masterpiece. The trail weaves through a canyon adorned with aspens and even features cascading waterfalls. As seasoned hikers, we know that this juxtaposition of vibrant foliage against the backdrop of flowing water is a photographer’s dream come true. Bonus Hike very close to here is the Green Creek Trail, the first 1.5 miles of this trail are stunning fall nirvana!
3. June Lake Loop: Sometimes, the best shots come from the road less traveled. The June Lake Loop is a scenic byway that seasoned hikers and photographers adore. It encompasses June Lake, Silver Lake, Gull Lake, and Grant Lake, each surrounded by lush groves of aspens. The lakes mirror the fiery foliage, making it an excellent destination for wide-angle and close-up shots alike. the Hike into Parker Lake in the Fall is breath taking and if you plan your visit to the lake at peak season, you will not want to leave.
4. Hope Valley: Venture south of Lake Tahoe, and you’ll discover Hope Valley – a paradise for seasoned hikers and fall photography enthusiasts. This expansive meadow, flanked by dense aspen groves and cradled by rugged peaks, offers endless opportunities to capture the vibrant colors of autumn. Featured photography can be found two miles past Blue Lakes highway or Just East of Caron Pass.
5. Desolation Wilderness: For those who crave a rugged, off-the-beaten-path experience, the Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe beckons. This wilderness area is a seasoned hiker’s dream, featuring alpine lakes, granite peaks, and a kaleidoscope of fall foliage. Hike deeper into this wilderness, and you’ll uncover hidden gems that will leave you breathless. Fall is the perfect time to tackle the Mt. Tallac hike into Desolation wilderness, but find fantastic colors on many trails including Glen Aulin and Lilly Lake.
6. Mammoth Lakes Basin: The Mammoth Lakes Basin is a true gem in the High Sierra. As seasoned hikers, we can attest that this area boasts a network of trails that wind around alpine lakes surrounded by forests ablaze with fall foliage. And don’t forget the iconic Minaret Vista viewpoint for those breathtaking panoramic shots. Also consider a trip into reds Meadow to capture the fall colors near Devils Postpile.
7. Yosemite National Park: Yosemite is, without a doubt, a year-round destination. Yet, during the fall season, it takes on a unique and enchanting charm. For seasoned hikers and photographers, Yosemite offers an array of stunning scenes – from the valley floor ablaze with color to the high country, including Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass, where golden meadows and snow-dusted peaks create an unforgettable spectacle. Fall meadow photography, is incredible on such trails as Mono Pass, Gaylor Lakes, Cathedral Lakes to Echo Lake (cross country)
8. Yuba River: The Yuba River is a hidden treasure in the High Sierra, and we seasoned hikers are delighted to share this secret with you. This river winds through a rugged canyon, its banks adorned with oak, cottonwood, and maple trees that ignite with reds, oranges, and yellows in the fall. The Yuba River’s clear waters mirror the fiery foliage, providing an idyllic backdrop for your autumn photography escapades. Take the day and drive the scenic highway enjoying stops in Downieville or Sierra City.
9. Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks: These neighboring parks in the High Sierra offer seasoned hikers and photographers a diverse range of opportunities. Towering canyons, colossal sequoias, and pristine alpine lakes are all accentuated by the vibrant fall foliage. The magic in these parks during autumn is undeniable and awaits your lens.
As seasoned hikers and lovers of the High Sierra, we encourage you to plan your fall photography adventure carefully. The golden hours of early morning and late afternoon provide the most captivating lighting conditions. Always check trail conditions and be prepared for the High Sierra’s ever-changing weather. This region is a true treasure trove of fall photography opportunities, and we hope these nine remarkable trails inspire you to explore, capture, and cherish the breathtaking beauty of autumn in the High Sierra. Happy hiking and snapping away!