Lundy Canyon is yet another spectacular fall hike in the eastern Sierra. Callie and I were fortunate to hit the trail on a beautiful day when the foliage was peaking.
Mileage: 7 miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1500 feet
Day(s) Hiked: 10/05/13
Dog Friendly: Yes
The approach to the Lundy Canyon trailhead is stunning during the fall. First, the road passes Lundy Lake, which has colorful groves of aspens on its shoreline to brighten the view. The road then passes through numerous aspen groves and beside some beaver dams. If you time it right, the whole area can be alive with yellow, orange, and red trees. A lot of people who travel to the Lundy area during fall choose to experience the area by simply driving or walking along the road, and with such brilliant displays of color it is easy to understand why. Of course, Callie and I had our sights set on the trail up the canyon.
Since the trailhead is located in an aspen grove, it obviously does not take long before the trail begins to hit some interesting spots. Once you ascend a bit and look back down the canyon, the density of the color that surrounds the trail becomes much more clear. There are few places in California with such abundance of color in one spot.
The big attraction of the trail comes pretty quickly. After about a half mile up the trail, lower Lundy Falls comes into view. At the peak of the color change, the entire hillside around the waterfall can turn into an amazing spectacle.
Moving on, the colors begin to fade out a bit, but the open mountain views make up for any shortcomings in the foliage.
On our visit, a lot of the upper groves were already completely stripped of their leaves. If you hike Lundy when the lower area is at peak, this is a very likely scenario. The flip side is that if you hike the trail early in the fall color season, you are likely to find some unique opportunities in the upper canyon here.
We wanted to check out the trail to Helen Lake and explore some of the 20 lakes basin. As you get close to Lundy Pass, the trees thin out and the trail is taken over by large chunks of talus.
The final approach to the pass goes straight up the steep, loose slope. Callie had no reservations to trod up the hill, but I thought better of it. It was sketchy enough to easily slip and hurt yourself, and it was also far too precarious for me to carry Callie down if something were to happen to her. So, we turned around a few hundred feet from the pass. We’ll check out the Twenty Lakes Basin from Saddlebag Lake some other time.
Heading back down, the colored aspens seemed so distant from our barren location.
However, before long the trail returns back to the dense forest where evidence of fall is ever present.
On our way back, we spent some time at the beaver dam that is just below the lower waterfall. This spot is just slightly off the main trail and it provides a nice alternative view of the waterfall.
Driving down the road that exits the canyon, the nearby color displays are aided by a view of Mono Lake in the background. Being in one incredible spot while staring at a completely different spot of equal beauty that is only a few miles away is the type of special occurrence that is unique to places like Owens Valley. It is a truly remarkable location.