Lundy Canyon (Hoover Wilderness) 29-Sep-2018

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California

While our hike to Marie Louise Lakes was long on cherished memories, it was a bit short on Fall color. So, after consulting several Fall color guides, we figured that Lundy Canyon, just north of Lee Vining, California, was the most likely spot to offer up a palette of hues. So after stopping to visit Devils Postpile National Monument, we made our way to the Lundy Canyon Trailhead at the end of Forest Road 2N01. The parking here is surprisingly limited and awkward for what seems a popular trailhead. And the only “amenity” is a single, fragrant, pit toilet. But we found a parking spot and were soon heading up-canyon is search of color.

We were about 30 seconds up the trail when the Fall color started to pop – rich yellow, orange, and gold quaking aspens lined the trail.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
The color started right away

We continued on through a grove of small aspens on a trail that had recently been reconstructed after being obliterated by a massive mudslide from the canyon wall above. In less than a half-mile, we reached a rocky prominence where we got a big view of all the color in the valley and of the first waterfall. Yes, we got both Fall color and waterfalls on this hike!

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Looking up Lundy Canyon at the first waterfall
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Close-up of the first waterfall

We followed the trail up the north side of the valley,

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Continuing up the trail

past the top of the first waterfall,

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Mill Creek

around a little pond above the falls,

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
A small pond on Mill Creek above the first falls

and into a large grove of huge, colorful quaking aspens. What impressed us about these aspens was how big they are – some looked to be over 6 feet in diameter.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Into the aspens
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Continuing into the aspens
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
These are remarkably large aspens

An old trapper’s cabin is buried in this aspen grove. This is a beautiful spot but we still couldn’t build any enthusiasm for spending the winter here in a log hut.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Remains of the trapper’s cabin

Beyond the grove of large aspens, the trail climbed just enough to bring us to another grove of aspens further along in the Fall color process – moving their leaves from a bright yellow to a rich red-orange.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
This is definitely the Fall color we were looking for
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
More Fall color
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
And yet more Fall color

We continued along, following the gently rising trail,

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Along the trail
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
The other two waterfalls come into view

up past the other two waterfalls on Mill Creek. Both are tumbling cascades rather than direct drops but both are very charming nonetheless.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Second falls
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Third falls

We continued on up the valley to where the trail makes a turn south and starts a ragged, scree-laden climb to Lake Helen. Since this was a Fall color hike, and there isn’t much in the way of color up at the lake, we passed on a scree-slog to sit, snack, and gaze at the wildly colored canyon walls and the ever shifting clouds and contrails.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Clouds over the head of the valley
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Clouds over Point 11795

Snacking completed, it was time to (reluctantly) head back.

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Heading down the valley
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Back through the grove of huge aspens
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Out in the open again
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Past the little pond
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Over Mill Creek (again)
Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
And back to the trailhead

This was an easy, short (4 miles round-trip; 1,000 feet of elevation gain) hike but one long on the Fall color we were looking for. It was just what the Fall color guides promised. Of all the hikes we did on this trip, this one provided the most color for the least effort. The three delightful waterfalls were a bonus feature. The allotted parking area seems oddly inadequate for what is an obviously popular hike. We saw a dozen people on the trail, all the awkward parking spots were taken when we got back, and there were cars parked along the access road. So, absolutely worth a visit for the Fall color but, on weekends, arrive early to get a parking spot!

Lundy Canyon Hoover Wilderness California
Our hike up Lundy Canyon

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