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9 Epic Hikes in Mammoth Lakes to Check Off Your Bucket List

9 Epic Hikes in Mammoth Lakes to Check Off Your Bucket List

Mammoth Lakes is a top destination for nature and outdoor lovers, with hiking a top priority for many. So if you’re looking for the best hikes in Mammoth Lakes that shouldn’t be missed, check out this list of 9 epic hikes in the area that are definitely worth considering. The trails can be accessed all year, but keep in mind some may have sections covered in snow, given the elevation. Many of these are family and dog-friendly too but always double-check any restrictions before your trek. It’s time to pack your bag and get ready to hit the trails!

Best Hikes in Mammoth Lakes

This list compiles a variety of Mammoth trails, covering a description of the trail, length, difficulty, and elevation gain so you know what to expect. Hiking is one of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes for all levels, so you will no doubt find a trail best suited for you here.

1. Devils Postpile And Rainbow Falls Trail

  • Length: 4.9 miles (7.9 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 515 feet (157 m)

This easy and popular Mammoth hike leads you to a beautiful, 100-foot waterfall. On sunny days, hikers can often see rainbows reflecting off the falls, hence its name. This trail tends to be popular as it also reaches Devils Postpile National Monument, so it’s important to be respectful of fellow hikers. This national monument is a sight in itself as a unique rock formation from volcanic activity created pillars of rock that don’t look natural. Although the hike is easy, there is not much shade, and can be quite dry. Pack a hat and sunscreen accordingly. 

You can also extend this hike all the way to Horseshoe Lake, which is also one of the top Mammoth hikes. It will take you through Red Meadows, a stunning area near Mammoth Mountain that shouldn’t be missed! Note: Bathrooms for this area are only located at the Ranger Station parking area for Devils Postpile. 

2. Convict Lake Loop Trail

  • Length: 2.5 miles (4 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 180 feet (55 m)

An easily accessible Mammoth Lakes hiking option is to hike the loop around Convict Lake – an easy trail that tends to be popular for families. Given the location of the lake, which is a drive-up lake, you are also apt to find others fishing or swimming. The trail is popular in the summer to view the wildflowers that make an appearance so if you’re doing a Highway 395 road trip, it’s worth the stop here, even if not for a hike! If hiking in the winter, be aware of snowy areas near the lake that may be dangerous to cross without proper equipment. 

3. Horseshoe Lake Loop

  • Length: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 114 feet (35 m)

The Horseshoe Lake Loop takes about 40 minutes to complete the full loop. The trail is quite popular with mountain bikers and trail runners and gets crowded in nice weather, so grab a parking spot early to avoid disappointment. The scenery is gorgeous, as massive fir trees are scattered along the lake. It is also very dog-friendly and is a great trail if you are limited on time. 

4. Skelton Lake

  • Length: 3.1 miles (4.9 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 872 feet (266 m)

Your legs will definitely feel the burn at Skelton Lake! The moderate hiking trail has a steady incline for most of the route that takes off from Duck Lake Pass Trailhead. This hike tends to feel more isolated and also has a few spots to sit along the trail, making it a popular spot for bird-watchers, painters, photographers, or hikers looking to enjoy the solitude. You can lengthen this hike as well, heading to Duck Lake and Pika Lake.

5. Crystal Lake Trail

  • Length: 3.1 miles (4.9 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 833 feet (254 m)

This moderate hiking trail offers incredible panoramic views of Mammoth Lakes Basin overlooking Lake Mary and Lake George. The most challenging part of the trail is the first mile, which is quite steep but the stunning views will be worth it. The trail also may be covered in snow in late winter through early spring, so sturdy shoes or hiking poles are a good idea to pack! On a warm day, many hikers pack a swimsuit and hop into the lake to cool off with the beautiful Crystal Crag as a backdrop.

6. Minaret Vista Trail

  • Length: 2.6 miles (5 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 246 feet (75 m)

This out-and-back trail is accessible year-round, but in winter snowshoes are most definitely recommended. The trail is within the Mammoth Mountain Ski area and begins just behind Mammoth Mountain Inn. Make sure to stay alert to follow signs as it can be easy to veer off onto intersecting trails. This is a great trail if you love getting up close to large fir and pine trees; it also means most of the trek is pretty shady! You’ll be wandering next to the trees for most of the climb, but once at the top of the vista, you have great panoramic views on a clear day.

7. Agnew Wildflower Loop

  • Length: 0.6 miles (1 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 37 feet (11 m)

This is a very short hike, but the true reason outdoor-lovers head here is the abundance of wildflowers. The best time to see the flowers in full bloom is late spring through July. Think of yourself surrounded by a plethora of lilies, larkspur, columbine, lupine, and more. Don’t forget to pack mosquito repellent as they can be extra pesty and unfortunately most common during the wildflower months. 

8. Thousand Island Lake near June Lake

  • Length: 18 miles (29 km)
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation gain: 3,881 feet (1183 m)

This challenging route is a popular day hike in Mammoth Lakes where you can also camp too. Keep in mind that an overnight trip requires a permit. The first four miles are quite difficult: steep, rocky, and fully immersed in the sun. It’s recommended to get an early start before 9am as the trail gets extremely hot and has a high elevation gain. Fortunately, there are tons of water streams to fill up your water bottle and hydrate. The challenge is worthwhile as soon as you reach the lake – pack your swimsuit for a pit stop swim. 

9. Inyo Craters Trail, Inyo National Forest

  • Length: 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 314 feet (96 m)

This easy trail brings hikers to the two water-filled craters in Inyo National Forest that were created after a volcanic explosion over 600 years ago. Today these craters intrigue visitors because of their unique, turquoise-like color. You are actually able to get to the perimeter of the first crater and hikers sometimes spot bears swimming in it! This is a good hike if you want to take your time and ease into your body adjusting to the elevation.

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