Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada Mountains

Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail: A Hiker’s Promised Land

Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail in Inyo National Forest, California has it all: from spectacular views of 14+ lakes, 14,000 ft. mountain peaks, and access to the southernmost glacier in the United States and the largest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Palisade Glacier.  There are flowing rivers and waterfalls, rocky switchbacks, Golden Trout, Jeffrey and Lodgepole pines, Aspens, a gorgeous rock cabin built by Lon Chaney Sr. and glacier-fed lakes.  This trail is truly a nature lover’s paradise.

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Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail by Julia at XplorMor

John Muir once said, “The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”  Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail gives life to these words.  From the moment your car leaves the 395 at Big Pine, California and heads into Big Pine Canyon, it’s clear another world awaits; the further into the canyon, the clearer the vision.  The road ends at the parking area for Inyo National Forest, and the trail head for accessing Big Pine Creek North and South Fork trails.

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Second Lake in Inyo National Forest by Julia at XplorMor

The trail is well-defined throughout its about 19 miles, except one mile in from starting at the Glacier Lodge trail head where signage is missing (Read more on Finding the Trail).  As the trail winds up Big Pine Canyon glimpses of a possible destination, Palisade Glacier, are seen through the trees and past the overlooks.  The trail to the glacier gains more than 4,000 feet in elevation with intervals of steep narrow rocky switchbacks and sharp drop-offs, yet the destination beckons an enticement of wonder and untouched natural landscape.  Many hikers do not reach Palisade Glacier as it requires extensive hiking and possibly an overnight stay in this rugged wilderness.  Regardless of whether the hiker follows the loop past seven lakes on a day excursion or ventures further overnight to the glacier, the scenery will not disappoint in this hiker’s promised land.

View slide shows and read more about Big Pine Creek North Fork Trail and Inyo National Forest.

Nature’s Gold: An Autumn Hike into Lundy Canyon

Lundy Canyon Trail follows Lundy Canyon into the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Inyo National Forest, California. The trail winds through Aspen Groves which offer spectacular colors in the Fall. The best time to see autumn is late September to mid-October when the Aspen leaves turn an incredible bright yellow. Nature’s Gold.

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Lundy Canyon Trek by Julia at XplorMor

We drove along Lundy Canyon road to see the incredible colors thanks to a recommendation from some Lee Vining locals. We didn’t know what to expect, and nearly stopped at the Lundy Canyon Resort area, believing the continuing dirt road lead only to private properties. But again, thanks to some kind locals, we were instructed to continue the drive until the dirt road ends in a loop and the trailhead begins. We set out on an unexpected hike, and into a gorgeous frontier filled with mountains, forests, lakes, rivers and large waterfalls! Beautiful frontier expedition.

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Lundy Canyon Trek by Julia at XplorMor

Lundy Canyon Trail is easily accessed from Highway 395, about 7 miles north of Lee Vining. Grab food and water supplies from Mono Market when you pass through the quaint town, as there’s no provisions in the canyon, and water should be treated.

Read more and watch the XplorMor Lundy Canyon Expedition Slide Show.

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Lundy Canyon Falls (see person for height) by Julia at XplorMor

Panum Crater: A Hidden Gem in Inyo National Forest

Panum Crater is a hidden gem, literally.

Located adjacent to Mono Lake in north-eastern California, off Mono Lake Basin Road, or Highway 120 East, Panum Crater is a geological wonder with giant shards of obsidian (the largest I’ve ever seen) and contrasting rough chunks of pumice (pick one up to feel its weight). The other-worldly crater is worth the short hike; it’s as though you step on to another planet the moment you enter its core.

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Panum Crater Expedition by Julia at XplorMor

There are two trails at the crater, one leads into the core and the other circumvents its rim. Both are worth the effort as they each offer a unique perspective of the crater, from its internal commotion to panoramic scenic vistas of the surrounding Mono Lake Basin and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. If you have to choose between them, you cannot go wrong.

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Panum Crater Expedition by Julia at XplorMor

Panum Crater is a relatively young volcanic cone at a mere age of 600-700 years, and part of the Mono-Inyo Crater Chain.  According to our guide, it demonstrates characteristics of a rhyolitic lava dome in that its contents show a high amount of silica, and much of the current crater dome is made of pumice and obsidian, the volcanic glass that Native Americans used to make arrow tips.

Read more and watch the XplorMor Expedition Slide Show.

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Panum Crater Expedition by Julia at XplorMor

Explore more XplorMor World Wide Photographic and Terrain Expeditions, and delve deeper into the journey through Xplorer Journals written by our team and guest contributors. These are first-hand accounts from the expeditions, offering tips, insights and stunning photography. Then discover our web and print ready images to enhance your publications.

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