Lundy Canyon (Sierra Nevada, CA) 09-Aug-2022

Today was to be our last full day in the Eastern Sierras. Tomorrow we would say good-bye to Wayne and Diane (at least for the moment) and do the car-plane thing in reverse. Today’s weather wasn’t going to come through for us with a sunny send-off; if anything, it was even more swirling and truculent than yesterday’s. Maybe even with thunderstorms or rain or politicians… 🤨

So we cast around for a not too long, not too high up (nobody was volunteering to be a lightning rod), but still interesting hike. This brought Lundy Canyon to mind. Although known as one of the best places in the Eastern Sierra to see Fall colors (which we did in 2018), it also offers waterfalls, a grove of huge quaking aspens, an old cabin, and expansive views up and down canyon. By not going all the way up to Lake Helen, we could keep this hike short but sweet. So we drove through Lee Vining, past Mono Lake, and up the paved/gravel road to the trailhead west of Lundy Lake.

Fall color in Lundy Canyon (2018)

Enroute to the trailhead, we passed through the rustic Lundy Lake Resort started by Nellie Bly (Baker) O’Bryan, an actress who left Hollywood in the late 1930s to spend the rest of her life in the Eastern Sierra, which she loved. I learned much of this from reading a recently aquired copy of Nellie of Lundy, a collection of her stories and reminisences edited by Linda LaPierre. It’s a good read about a full and adventurous life.

At the trailhead
The trail has been re-built across a landslide that happened a few years ago
The landslide swirled through an aspen grove
A holey leaf

After passing across the old landslide, the trail makes a short climb of a rocky outcrop. From here there’s an excellent view upvalley and of the first mapped waterfall on Mill Creek.

The first mapped waterfall
Crossing Mill Creek
A pond in mill creek
Crossing a tributary of Mill Creek
A beaver pond creates a ghost forest
Through a grove of huge and old aspens
Crossing Mill Creek (again)
Reflections on Mill Creek
The old prospector’s cabin
Another grove of large aspens
Really big aspens
Rock and Root
The last wildflowers of the season
Into the upper canyon

When the second waterfall comes into view, it doesn’t look like much. But as you get closer, it slowly reveals itself to be not one fall but a series of four cascades pouring over ledges that cross the valley.

The second mapped waterfall
First cascade
Second and third cascades
Third cascade
Fourth cascade

We stopped for a snack at 9,000 feet (2,743 m), level with the third mapped waterfall in the valley. Our usual early start had given us the trail to ourselves on the way up, but as we sat and snacked, others started arriving, some intent on going all the way up to Lake Helen, 1,200 feet (366 m) higher. But this was our designated turnaround point, so after the cheese and crackers were exhausted, we started back.

A snack with a view
Going back
The LovedOne of Lundy defies a turbulent sky 😊❤

Our hike came to 4 miles (6.4 km) with only 900 feet (274 m) of gain – just what we wanted for today. Overall, a great hike in that we got to see the neat stuff Lundy offers even when it isn’t cloaked in Fall colors. 😁 On the way down we passed a surprising number of people on the way up. Obviously this is a popular hike even without colors. But when colors are here, you need to get to the trailhead early, as parking there is limited and the demand for same high (as we found out back in 2018 😲).

Our out-and-back in Lundy Canyon
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5 thoughts on “Lundy Canyon (Sierra Nevada, CA) 09-Aug-2022

  1. Hi Bruce
    I am Debby Main’s sister Letty Brooks. She shared your blog with me cuz she knew I would appreciate suggestions for day hikes in the Eastern Sierra. I have shared this posting with others who love hiking.
    Happy Trails. Letty

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  2. Thanks! Optimum time for Lundy seems to be September – lots of color without too much cold. 🙂 My first real outdoor experience (a backpack for which I was woefully under-equipped) was in the High Sierra over 50 years ago and I’ve been enthralled by that range ever since (second only to The LovedOne, of course). 😍

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  3. Beautiful photos! We loved that Lundy Canyon hike. We hiked it in late October (a few years ago) and the colors were stunning. And it was pretty darned chilly, as I recall! In our many years of hiking, the hikes we’ve done in the Sierra Nevada continue to be some of our favorites.

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  4. Thanks! We rented what turned out to be a small condo (SierraSun) through Vrbo. Some of the appliances were a little dodgy, but it was clean and was just the right size for the 4 of us.

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  5. Sounds like a great trip- thanks for sharing via your posts. Great photos as always and always nice to see Sierra granite !

    if you dont mind me asking would you recommend the June Lake cabins ?

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