We have been going to Mammoth for years and have shared these majestic mountains with the kids through the years and now get to share them again with the grand kids. Here are our top 5 favorite hikes in Mammoth Lakes:
MCGEE CREEK Elevation ( 8,100 ft) to
The trail head is 8 miles south of the Mammoth turnoff on US 395, turn west at the McGee Creek exit. Follow this road 4 miles, past the McGee Creek Pack Station to the road end parking.
The trip to McGee Lake begins as the trip to Steelhead Lake, until the junction with Steelhead lateral. Continue on the main trail here, taking the right branch of the fork. The trail will lead south over a forested and rocky slope, then through meadows and under White Bark Pine, Lodgepole and Mountain Hemlock to the slopes below McGee Lake (10,480′). Nearby, at Little McGee Lake, Crocker Lake and Golden Lake there is good fishing. Continuing on the trail past McGee Lake will lead you to McGee Pass (11,900′), and from there to Fish Creek, and Lake Edison.
Duck Lake (10,427ft.) Strenuous Hike, 5 miles
Trailhead is at the very end of Coldwater Campground Road. Duck Lake has an intense, deep-blue color, and is reached by ascending the steep switchbacks of Duck Pass. Along the way are Arrowhead, Skeleton and Barney lakes. Just after Skelton, an neglected trail leads West to Emerald Lake. This is a nice option to the usual Duck Pass trail that gets overused from pack animals. Just past Emerald, take another trail West to Barrett Lake, and then back to George.
Lake George (9,008ft) to
Dramatic, far-reaching views unfold as you climb toward Deer Lakes—across startling terrain. You begin on light-colored, coarse granite sand that abruptly ends at dark red cinders near the ridgetop, where a well-formed cone rises from a bowl of red cinders into the mountain sky. While this is the Sierra, it’s a landscape distinctly reminiscent of Maui’s famed Haleakala Crater.
From Highway 395 outside of Mammoth Lakes take Highway 203 to the town of Mammoth Lakes. Continue up Hwy 203, now called Main Street, past the eastern end of Old Mammoth Road continue straight when Hwy 203 turns right and then becomes Minaret Summit Road. Going straight through the stoplight, you are now on Lake Mary Road.
The paved road climbs to the southwest, crossing a bridge near the outlet of the three lakes that are called Twin Lakes. The parking lot below this bridge is the winter parking lot for Lake Mary Road, below Tamarack Lake Campground and about 6 miles from Hwy 395. In the summer, drive on up the road past the western end of Old Mammoth Road until you reach the junction where the road splits to make a loop around Lake Mary. All of the trailhead descriptions below start from this junction), which is 7.3 miles from Hwy 395.
Minaret Lake( 9,800ft)Strenuous Hike 8 miles
Minaret Lake is a great choice for backpackers and climbers who want to get up close to some of the most dramatic scenery in the Sierra. What this hike have in grand views, it makes up for with pine-shaded route between the backside of the western Sierra slopes and the prominent Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. The trail leads you to the base of the Minaret Falls and the opportunity to hike along one of the country’s most famous trails, the Pacific Crest.The trailhead is at the Devils Postpile Ranger Station. Walk south from the ranger station on the trail towards Devils Postpile. Then about 0.3 miles keep to the right on the signed trail, cross the river on the bridge, and continue upstream.
Fern Lake( 8,900ft) Strenuous Hike 1.5 miles
The Fern Lake hike is a short but grueling ascent. The reward is well worth it. The views are stunning, the lake is serene, cool and inviting.