Mammoth Hiking | Mammoth Mountain | Mammoth Lakes
Friday, December 15, 2017

Hiking in the Mammoth Lakes Area

Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding areas feature some of the most beautiful and majestic mountain scenery in the world, and as you might imagine, plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with nature. One of the most popular ways to do this is by undertaking one of the thousands of hiking opportunities in the Sierra Nevada's. Mammoth Lakes is an ideal base camp for a multitude of hiking adventures, whether it be overnight back country excursions or simple family day hikes, there is something for everyone!

Within 30 miles of the town of Mammoth Lakes (as the crow flies) are: The John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Yosemite National Park, the Hoover Wilderness, the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail.

Hiking in Mammoth

Remember when planning your Mammoth hiking adventure that most of the hikes in and around Mammoth are at elevation ranging from 7,000 to 10,000Rock Creek Mammoth Hiking feet, and up to 11,000 feet (top of Mammoth Mountain). For this reason it is recommended you give yourself a day to get acclimated to the elevation before undertaking any strenuous activity. It's also important to drink plenty of water before your hike and bring extra water with you. As always, wear good hiking shoes, bring an extra layer, know where you are going, make sure and check the weather and temperatures which can fluctuate quickly, bring some insect repellant, and above all be safe and have fun!

Bear Aware!

Be aware that the Sierra Nevada is bear country and the use of bear-resistant food canisters is mandatory in most wilderness areas. For more information on how to be prepared, contact the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center / Ranger Station at 760-924-5500.

We've included below some of our favorite Mammoth area hikes, along with pictures and maps, and where to go for more information.

Mammoth Area Hikes

East of the Sierra Crest

Panorama Dome

This is a very accessible and easy 1 mile round trip hike that nonetheless offers spectacular views over the top of Mammoth, the Owens Valley and down to Crowley Lake. A great hike for the kids.

  • Distance: 1.0 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Start up Lake Mary road, just past the turnoff for Twin Lakes you'll find a turn out space on the right side of the road.

Crystal Lake

The Crystal Lake hike is another easy Mammoth day hike, and one of the more popular Mammoth area trails. A nice day hike to pack a lunch and enjoy the scenery with about 650 feet in elevation and 3 miles round trip. Check out our article on the Crystal Lake Trail, along with photos and map.

  • Distance: 3 miles round tripansel-adams-wilderness-mammoth-hiking
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Trailhead: To access the trailhead, take Lake Mary road to Lake George, there is a trailhead marker to the right of the parking lot entrance.

Mammoth Crest

The Mammoth Crest Hike is a more strenuous continuation of the Crystal Lake day hike, and a total of 6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1600 feet. At the top of Mammoth Crest are excellent views of the Minarets, Mammoth Mountain and the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

  • Distance: 6 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Trailhead: To access the Mammoth Crest trail, look for the fork in the trail near Crystal Lake.

T.J. and Barret Lakes

T.J. and Barrett Lakes is an easy 2 mile round trip hike, good for kids of all ages. Barrett Lake is just a quarter mile hike, and from there you can follow a connecting trail to Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows. Continue past Barrett Lake another half mile to reach TJ Lake.

  • Distance: 2 miles round tripmammoth hiking
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: The trailhead is at Lake George at the southernmost loop of the campground to the left of the parking lot entrance at Lake George.

Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows

This is a popular, very scenic and easy to moderate 1.5 mile round trip hike to Emerald Lake and a 4 mile round trip hike to Sky Meadows with a 900 feet in elevation gain. On the way to Emerald Lake you pass a connecting trail to Barrett Lake. Check out our in depth review of the Emerald Lake and Sky Meadows Trail, along with great photos and map!

  • Distance: 1.5 / 4 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Trailhead: At the southwest edge of the Coldwater Creek parking lot. This lot is at the top of Coldwater Creek campground at the far (southeast) end of Lake Mary.

Arrowhead Lake

Another popular Mammoth day hike, the Arrowhead Lake Trail is somewhat shorter at 2.6 miles round trip and approximately 635 feet in elevation gain. This is a great family hike, good for kids of all ages, so pack up a nice lunch and go for a swim in an alpine lake! See our in depth article on The Arrowhead Lake Trail.

  • Distance: 1.3 / 2.6 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: At the top of the Coldwater Creek parking lot, continue past the Emerald Lake trailhead to the end of the parking lot. This trail is part of the Duck Pass Trail, so look for that sign.

West of the Sierra Crest

Devils Postpile National Monument and Rainbow Falls

This easy hike include two of natures wonders. From the parking area, follow mammoth lakes hikingthe well marked trail about a half mile to Devils Postpile. The Postpile is an amazing set of crystallized vertical columns of lava, caused by differing rates of cooling. I truly looks line the devil pushed giant posts up from under the earth!

Continue on the trail about 2 miles, following the well marked signs towards Rainbow Falls, enjoying the lovely San Joaquin river along the way. Rainbow falls is a staggering spectacle, plunging 100 foot over a shear cliff into a lovely horseshoe shaped amphitheater. You can walk along the rocks near enough to feel the mist of the falls.

For more information on this hike see: Devils Postpile National Monument and Rainbow Falls

  • Distance: 1 / 5 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Trailhead: The trailhead is at the Devils Postpile Ranger Station; use shuttle bus stop 6. Walk south (downstream) from the ranger station on the signed trail.

Map: Devils Postpile Area Trail and Shuttle Map