As the summer’s warmth gradually gives way to cooler days, nature prepares for one of its most breathtaking spectacles: the transition of leaves from vibrant greens to brilliant shades of yellow and gold. This remarkable transformation is on the horizon, typically commencing in mid-September and gracing us with its beauty throughout October. Thanks to a bountiful winter snowfall, this season is anticipated to be exceptionally road trip-worthy.
Located just a short drive from Highway 395, June Lake Loop is the ideal destination to witness this awe-inspiring change of scenery. For nature enthusiasts who cherish the beauty of this seasonal change, we’ve curated a list of the five best spots along June Lake Loop where you can fully experience this fall spectacle.
Fall Colors Guide June Lake Loop
1. Silver Lake
Whether you’re an angler looking for the perfect fishing spot, an adventurer seeking hiking opportunities, a photographer looking for the perfect backdrop, or a horseback rider ready to explore, Silver Lake Campground has something to offer everyone. Camping, boating and cabin rentals are also available, but check their website for current information.
2. Gull Lake
Gull Lake Loop Trail, spans across a 2-mile scenic route, making it an ideal adventure for both families and avid fishing enthusiasts. This scenic loop, lined with the vibrant hues of fall follows the shores of Gull Lake, famous for its trout. You’ll wind your way through sagebrush and aspen trees, continuing around the lake before passing through the campground area, eventually leading you back to the parking area and community center. For those seeking accommodation, there is a small, intimate campground. Within a short drive, campers have access to two pristine lakes, perfect for fishing and boating adventures. Additionally, the delightful town of June Lake is nearby with restaurants and shops.
3. June Lake Beach
A stroll along June Lake Beach is a must during the fall season. Calm lake water against the brilliant foliage creates an unforgettable landscape that holds the very essence of fall. Situated on the north side of the lake, it’s the perfect spot to relax and have a picnic after your walk along the beach.
4. Parker Lake Trail
For those seeking a more invigorating experience, the Parker Lake Trail rewards hikers with an incredible blend of fall colors and alpine beauty. As you approach Parker Lake, the stunning juxtaposition of the colorful foliage against the rugged mountain peaks creates quite a memorable experience.
5. Rush Creek Trail
The “Rush Creek” trail is named after the swift-flowing water that cascades down a steep canyon, replenishing Silver Lake in the June Lakes area. Known for its beauty, this out-and-back trail is a little over 4 miles, moderate, and typically takes about 2.5 hours to complete, making it an ideal excursion for those seeking an enjoyable day in nature.
For an optimal experience in the June Lake Loop during the fall season, consider these essential tips:
First, plan your visit between late September and early October to visit during the peak of autumn colors. Since the weather can change swiftly, ensure you pack layers. Depending on your hiking plans, hiking boots suitable for snowy terrain might come in handy.
As one of California’s prime spots for experiencing the fall transformation, anticipate sharing the trails with fellow nature enthusiasts. It’s a popular destination, and you’re likely to encounter others enjoying their time alongside you.
Additionally, don’t forget to charge your camera batteries—this place offers countless moments worthy of capturing.
To ensure a seamless arrival, consider booking your lodging in advance. This way, you’re prepared and can enjoy your time without any logistical concerns.
Lastly, remember to adhere to Leave No Trace principles by packing out all your garbage after picnics, snacks, and fishing excursions.
Other places to see in the area:
Convict Lake is roughly 28 minutes from June Lake Loop and stands renowned for its crystal-clear waters and thriving fish population. The area takes its name from a daring escape by convicts in the late 19th century, who sought refuge in the surrounding mountains. Today, Convict Lake is a recreational hotspot and gateway to the John Muir Wilderness with trails and unforgettable views.
Approximately 30 minutes from June Lake Loop, Hot Creek serves as a fascinating and unique location where geological processes are happening right now. Boiling water surges from the creek bed, fumaroles venting steam, and intermittent geyser eruptions indicate the presence of the magma chamber that resides approximately three miles beneath the earth’s surface in this region. To reach Hot Creek from Highway 395, take the Hot Creek Hatchery Road. Two miles down the paved road, it turns to dirt and gravel for another 3 miles before reaching your destination.
Mammoth Lakes is a charming town famous for its exceptional ski areas, including Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain, offering exceptional winter adventures. Notable lakes nearby include Lake Mary, Lake George, Horseshoe Lake, and Twin Lakes. You can also visit the Earthquake Fault, Devils Postpile National Monument, and magnificent Rainbow Falls.
Fall arrives in just a few weeks. Now is the perfect time to start planning your trip, securing your cozy lodging, and dusting off your sense of adventure. Remember to check websites for the areas you’ll be visiting for up-to-date information and alerts.