May 13, 2015
Mono County is the gateway to High Sierra hiking a backpacking offering some of the best mountain scenery in the state and some say the United States! Hundreds of miles of trails wind through Inyo and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests, including John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Hoover Widerness. This is the land of 14,000 foot peaks, clear blue mountain lakes, glacial carved canyons and granite cliffs. The area has one of the sunniest climates of any major mountain in the world with an average elevation of 7,000 ft.
Some of my favorite hikes include:
Duck Pass Trail (1-6 hours depending on options):
The trailhead is located at the end of Coldwater Creek campground which is about 7 miles from downtown Mammoth. The trailhead sits at about 9,200 feet. If you go all the way to Duck Lake (5 miles one way and 11,230 ft) allow a full day. Expect a moderate to strenuous uphill climbs, starting in the shad then sun-exposed at the higher elevation. The trail offers epic views and alpine lakes along the way. For an easier “family friendly” hike go only 1.5 miles to Skelton Lake. Duck Pass links in with the Pacific Crest Trail/JMT at higher elevations and can be extended into the back country quite significantly.
Horseshoe Lake (1 hour):
The trailhead is a short 8 miles from downtown Mammoth. A scenic and easy loop around Horseshoe Lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, this 1.2-mile trail is popular with families, beginner mountain bikers and trail runners. The mostly shaded trail hugs the lakeshore for 85 percent of the hike and has numerous picturesque picnic spots. Trail begins from the main parking lot with the lake to your left. To extend the hike, find other trails from the same parking lot. Accessible by public transportation is available most days in summer.
Lundy Canyon (1-6 hours depending on options):
This trail requires a little drive to reach the trailhead. Take Hwy. 395 seven miles north of Lee Vining and go west. Follow Lundy Lake Rd. for about two miles.One of the most highly regarded hikes in the Eastern Sierra for wildflowers and fall colors. Lundy Canyon Trail is about 3 miles, beginning at the end of Lundy Lake Rd. It’s an out-and-back journey into a vibrant canyon landscape brimming with Eastern Sierra life and scenery, including a waterfall and beaver dam. Level of difficulty is moderate-to-intense. Extend the hike to Lake Helen, 20 Lakes Basin, Saddlebag Lake and the eastern edge of Yosemite.
Convict Lake (1 hour):
Take a short 15 minute drive to Convict Lake for this pretty hike. The trail is about 3 miles total and follows the shoreline. You can walk either direction around the lake. I like starting next to the boat launch but you can cross the bridge over Convict Creek pass the campground entrance and head to the end of the pavement. The trail is relatively flat ranging 7,620 to 7,660 feet in elevation. My favorite part is the boardwalk at the back of the lake that crosses the creek.
For more local hikes visit http://www.mammothtrails.org/trails/
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