Love this hike, it's gorgeous. Summiting Francis peak is also well worth the while.
Bair Canyon is especially pretty (lower portion) during the early fall--One good alternate trail is, instead continueing on the main trail at the end of the old jeep road, follow the less beaten path right up the side of the mountain. You'll reach the Orange flag at the top the hill. Fairly steep but it's a Nice 30 minute hike-climb with great views.
I first did this hike in summer 1997. This trail is a good workout that is close to home. My favorite time is during winter for snowshoeing up Francis Peak.