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Mammoth Lakes Gives Hikers Access to
Spectacular High Sierra Backcountry
Map of the Long Valley Caldera, the Inyo Craters and
Mono Craters within the Inyo National Forest, Eastern Sierra, Mono
Trails Lead to
Lakes, Waterfalls, 13,000-foot-plus Peaks and Colorful Wildflower
Displays Mammoth Lakes, Calif. — Both day hikers and backpackers
seeking quick access to the spectacular High Sierra scenery will
find plenty of trails to explore in the Mammoth Lakes area. Families
seeking an easy trail, intermediate hikers who want to trek past
breathtaking scenery, advanced hikers who can go the distance, and
peak baggers who want to get above it all will all find hikes to
suit their tastes in and near Mammoth. Below is a sampling of
Mammoth hiking trails for every ability (all distances are round
McCleod Lake (1
mile) - The trail passes through a peaceful conifer forest on the
way to colorful McLeod Lake with its wide, sandy beaches. Trailhead:
At the "Mammoth Pass" sign at Horseshoe Lake.
mile) - Winding through the trees, this trail reaches the top of a
plateau, offering beautiful panoramic views. Trailhead: on Lake Mary
Road just past the turnoff to Twin Lakes.
Barret Lake and
TJ Lake - In late June or early July, hikers are rewarded with
colorful displays of wildflowers in the meadow at the upper end of
TJ Lake. Trailhead: On the backside of the parking lot at Lake
that demonstrate the area's volcanic activity include the half-mile
round-trip trek to and from the Inyo Craters (trailhead off of the
Mammoth Scenic Loop road) and the 2-mile round-trip hike around
Horseshoe Lake. In 1989, an earthquake released CO2 gases that
killed the roots of trees around Horseshoe Lake, creating an eerie
landscape which is great photography. Horseshoe Lake is now safe,
but keep dogs and children off the beach and out of low-lying areas.
Crystal Lake and
Mammoth Crest (6 miles) - The hike to Crystal Lake features
impressive views of alpine lakes that glimmer like gems embedded in
the forest below as well as panoramic vistas of the Minarets.
Traveling beyond Crystal Lake, hikers can admire the views from the
impressive Mammoth Crest. Trailhead: to the immediate right of the
parking lot entrance at Lake George.
Emerald Lake and
Sky Meadows (4 miles) - Wildflowers border the creek all the way to
Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows, which sits under the base of
spectacular Blue Crag. Trailhead: above Coldwater Campground.
Trail (5 miles) - The trail passes under Mammoth Rock, a massive
limestone and marble monolith. Trailhead: Follow Old Mammoth Road,
just past the first hairpin turn.
Shadow Lake and
Lake Ediza (12 miles) - After passing an impressive waterfall,
hikers arrive at Shadow Lake then continue on to Lake Ediza, with
the Minarets as a backdrop. Trailhead: Take the turnoff to Agnew
Meadows Campground. From the trailhead parking lot, follow the signs
for "Shadow Lake/River Trail."
Lake (14.2 miles) - Tucked away at timberline with towering,
snow-speckled peaks in the background, this lake is named for the
many islands that dot its surface.
and Valentine Lake (10 miles) - The highest and largest Sherwin Lake
is at 8,700 feet surrounded by conifers with Bloody Mountain soaring
above the treetops. Three miles past Sherwin Lakes is Valentine
Lake, an alpine jewel surrounded by craggy peaks. Trailhead: The
turnoff is on Sherwin Creek Road.
Duck Pass and
Duck Lake (10 miles) - Hikers ascend the steep switchbacks of Duck
Pass to reach Duck Lake, which boasts an intense, deep-blue color.
Along the way hikers pass Arrowhead, Skelton and Barney lakes.
Trailhead: above Coldwater Campground.
Banner Peak -
Glaciers dot the slopes of this 12,936-foot mountain, the second
highest peak in the Minarets.Climbers can hike to the foot of the
mountain where various routes reach the summit, the easiest of which
is a class 2 scramble.
Mt. Whitney -
The highest peak in the contiguous U.S. (14,495 feet) is two hours
away from Mammoth. A 10.5-mile one-way trail to the summit passes
alpine lakes, waterfalls and breathtaking views. Hiking permits are
awarded in a lottery in February but often can be obtained the day
before a hike (especially on weekdays) due to cancellations.
Boundary Peak -
Hikers who trek to the top can claim to have summited the highest
peak in Nevada at 13,140 feet. Boundary Peak is about two-hours from
- Peak baggers who want a-two-for-one climbing experience can tackle
Boundary Peak then summit its California neighbor, Montgomery Peak
at 13,441 feet above sea level situated at the northern end of the
Mt. Dana -
Anyone who reaches the summit of this 13,061 peak, the second
highest in Yosemite National Park, will be rewarded with vistas of
Mono Lake, lakes throughout Dana Meadows, and a panoramic view of
the High Sierra. An unmaintained trail to the top begins on the
Western face of the mountain near Tioga Pass.