Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail > Mammoth Mountain Vacations
Friday, November 24, 2017

Mammoth Lakes News


As the title suggest, this is part one in a series of posts detailing the many great hikes in Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding areas. I hope to cover plenty of ground this summer with my backpack and camera, and hope to bring our readers some great ideas on family oriented hiking, including plenty of photos and maps whenever possible. I hope you enjoy!

lake george
Lake George near the trail head to Crystal Lake.
trail head
The trail head is clearly marked in the Lake George parking lot.
mammoth hiking
First glimpse of the lake below on the way up!

The Crystal Lake Trail

Today I had the opportunity to hike the 3 mile Crystal Lake trail in the Lakes Basin. It’s a very scenic and moderate hike with about 650 feet of elevation gain, and I highly recommend it for families visiting the area. This is a popular day hike, so don’t be surprised to see a few fellow hikers on the path, including families, dogs and the occasional runner.

Starting at the trail head in the Lake George parking lot, the trail consists of multiple switchbacks as you rise up the side of the mountain towards the ridge. This part of the trail is heavily forested and is also the Sierra High Route Trail which takes you to Mammoth Crest and other areas higher up.

snow on the trail
Be prepared for snow still on the trail in early June.
great Mammoth hikes
Beautiful views of Lake George, Lake Mary and the mountains beyond.
mountain photo
At the top overlooking the High Sierra's.

As you continue to climb, the switchbacks bring you to the edge of the ridge with increasingly beautiful views, first of Lake George, and then Lake Mary in the background. As you reach the top, those more adventurous can take the sign for the Mammoth Crest trail, which I’ll cover in another post. Be sure and look behind you for a nice view of the backside of Mammoth Mountain.

All of the snow has not yet melted this year, despite it being a light winter, and in some places you have to tread over the white stuff, but it will be long gone in another 30 days or so. At the top of the ridge take a water break and take in the magnificent views. If you have been lugging a camera with you, now is the time to use it!

wilderness stream
The stream comign from Crystal Lake, pictured int he background.
dog in the water
Look closely and you'll see this dog is not afraid of cold water!
crystal lake
Beautiful alpine lake, rock formations and still plenty of snow in early June!

At about 1.2 miles you will begin to descend into the valley that holds Crystal Lake. The trail continues downhill for another .3 miles, where you will reach a stream coming from the lake.

The lake itself is very scenic, encircled with mountains on all sides, various rock formations and still plenty of snow. Later in the summer this is a great lake for swimming, but today the only creatures brave enough to test the waters were the little trout and a couple of dogs playing fetch with a group of was cold!

I recommend packing a lunch and spending some time walking around the lake before heading back down. You can also spend some time at Lake George, they have cabins there for rent, boat rentals, refreshments and great fishing.

Directions to the trail head

From Mammoth, take Lake Mary Road up until you see the lake on your left side, once you reach the end of the lake take the next left which is Around Lake Mary Road. Follow this road until you pass over the bridge and make a right onto Lake George Road, from there it’s about two minutes to Lake George, the trail head is clearly marked and located on the right as you pull up.

Safety Note

The trail is steep at places, and as you near the top is very close to where the mountainside drops off. Be aware of your surroundings and your footing in this area, keep a close eye on your fellow hikers, and wear good hiking shoes with traction, especially if the ground is wet like it was today.

I’ve attached several full size photos as well as a link to a map made using my Garmin, which I usually use for running and biking but thought it might be a cool feature to add to my hiking posts. You can view the map here: Crystal Lake Hike.

Do you have a favorite Mammoth day hike? Let us know about it!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, leave a comment, like it on Facebook or share it with your friends!

Related Images

  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail
  • Great Mammoth Day Hikes, The Crystal Lake Trail


# Josh
Saturday, June 09, 2012 9:50 AM
Great post, looks like a cool hike, we're headed to Mammoth in July and we'll check it out!

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About the Author

Brian is the owner of Mammoth Mountain Vacations, an avid outdoor enthusiast and skier, part time writer & photographer, novice web programmer, and full time new dad.
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