This is our second installment in our quest this summer to explore and bring our readers the best day hikes in the Mammoth Lakes area. If you missed our first post, check out The Crystal Lake Trail. These hikes are all family friendly, and we've included maps and photos as well.
Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows
Trail head on the right side of the Coldwater Creek campground parking lot.
On our way into the Ansel Adams Wilderness with 13 month old Kayla in tow.
Snow capped peaks visible on the trail!
With the weather in Mammoth now fully cooperating, we took the opportunity to hike the Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows trail in the Lakes Basin Area. While this hike does not offer the panoramic views of the shorter Crystal Lake trail, there are plenty of picture taking opportunities on the way up and especially once you've reached the top.
The hike is about 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of around 1,000 feet and is another great hike for the whole family.
The trail rises through fairly dense forest in this part of the Ansel Adams Wilderness, with patches of sun in some areas. The clearing at Sky Meadows is all sunshine so plan on bringing lunch with you and some sunscreen. Bring a sweater also as it can get windy and chilly near the top.
Emerald Lake with mountains int he background.
A stream runs alongside the trail most of the way.
It's all uphill on the way up, but easy on the way down.
The trail head is at the top of the Coldwater Creek campground on the right hand side of the parking lot, and is clearly marked (see photo). The first part of the trail heads up the mountain on a moderate incline alongside a creek to your right.
At about 1/2 mile you will see the sign for Barrett Lake, which a mile east from here and another great hike we'll cover in a subsequent post.
At .8 miles you come to Emerald Lake, a small but very picturesque lake and a nice spot for a halfway break. The lake is set against rocky mountains in the background, often with patches of snow if you are hiking in the early spring.
A nice little waterfall on the way to Sky Meadows.
Sky Meadows with a stream running through and mountain peaks above.
The view from above the meadow looking back down toward the trail.
As you near Sky Meadows there is a beautiful waterfall on the right side of the trail.
Sky Meadows is situated in the valley of the mountains, a grassy meadow with a small stream and bordered above by large rocks. You can take your pick where to sit down for lunch and explore the area a bit. Another great spot for pictures.
The hike back is almost exclusively down hill.
Directions to the trail head
From Mammoth, take Lake Mary Road up and turn left on Around Lake Mary Road. Follow this alongside the lake, and as it turns to the right look for Coldwater Creek Campground Road and turn left here. Follow this road past all the camping spots until you reach the parking lot, the trail head is the first one on your right, and is clearly marked.
I have attached several full size photos as well as a link to a map, which you can view: Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows Trail Map.
Do you have a favorite Mammoth day hike? Let us know about it!
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