Fun things to do in Mammoth Lakes

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes

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    Tom's Place - Hike to Gem Lake and Morgan Pass

    by sacking Written Jul 7, 2007

    Tom's Place is the actual name of a town about 20 minute drive south on 395 from Mammoth Lakes. Drive out about 10 miles on Rock Creek Rd to Mosquito Flat Campgrounds. It's a paved road the whole way, and the campground is the end of the road, so you can't miss it. Starting at 10,300 feet elevation, it's a beautiful hike past numerous small lakes until you get to Gem Lake. About 3.5 miles hike out. Gem Lake is about 10,900 feet elevation. You'll pass Heart Lake, Box Lake, Long Lake, Chickenfoot Lake (I don't name these, just report) until you finally get to Gem Lake. Be aware that the spur off to Gem Lake isn't marked with a sign, but with a stack of rocks and a stick of wood (see picture below).
    If you're up to it, it's only an additional .3 mile hike up to Morgan Pass, but the pass is over 11,100 feet elevation. But if you stopped for lunch at Gem Lake, it's easy to slowly go up to Morgan Pass then turn around and head back to the trailhead. Total hike with Morgan Pass is about 8 miles r/t. Doesn't sound like much, but at over 9,000 feet the whole way, you will be tired at the end.

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    Hike from Lake George to Mammoth Crest

    by sacking Written Jul 7, 2007

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    Drive a short distance from the Village at Mammoth Lakes (just downhill from Mammoth Mountain Inn) on Lake Mary Dr to Lake George. Lake Mary and Lake George are next to each other at about 9,200 feet elevation. Take trail towards Crystal Lake. There's a junction up the trail. One goes down to Crystal Lake (approx 9,600 feet elevation). Other goes right and uphill to Mammoth Crest. This is a great hike with great vistas. About 6 miles r/t from trailhead.

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    Lake Mamie

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 6, 2007

    Lake Mamie is yet another one of the easily accessible roadside lakes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Crystal Crag towers commandingly over the lake, with the Mammoth Crest behind it. The lake's forested shores are popular with fishermen, and its waters are equally popular with boaters. There is a parking area on the lake's north shore; from the parking area, you can walk north across the road to the top of Twin Falls, a spectacular, wide cascade that plunges down a slope to Twin Lakes, hundreds of feet below.

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    Horseshoe Lake

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 6, 2007

    Horseshoe Lake is probably so-named for it's shape, which slightly resembles a horseshoe. It was not the most spectacular lake we found in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, for a number of reasons. The first was probably seasonal; lake levels were very low, probably due to the low amount of snowfall in the Sierra that year. Also, many of the trees near the lakeside were dead by carbon dioxide poisoning. It's still not a bad place; the lake is surrounded by forest, and has the Mammoth Crest behind it. On the lake's beach there were a number of families enjoying sun and scenery; there weren't many fishermen here though. The trail across Mammoth Pass starts from the parking lot here; hopefully I can return someday to hike that.

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    Lake Mary

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 5, 2007

    Lake Mary is (I believe) the largest lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. It's water is a pretty blue, and setting-wise, you couldn't ask for more; the Mammoth Crest, with Blue and Crystal Crags, form a stunning backdrop for the forested lake. However, with a multitude of resorts and Campgrounds, it does get quite crowded here. Hikers heading up to Duck or Mammoth Passes often pass through here; even more common, you'll find thousands of anglers who cover every meter of the shoreline. Fishing is apparently amazing here; if you're into that, you'll probably have fun, though it's not exactly my cup of tea. On a last note, bring mosquito repellent, since the lakeside is swarming with little bloodsuckers.

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    Twin Lakes

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 4, 2007

    Twin Lakes are a set of lakes off Lake Mary Road in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Only the first lake is accessible from Lake Mary Road. A small parking lot provides a beautiful view over the lake to the Mammoth Crest and Crystal Crag, which tower over the utterly blue lake. Also visible in the distance is Twin Falls, a spectacular cascade descending through forest to Twin Lakes from Mamie Lake.

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    Mammoth Mountain

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 4, 2007

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    From the Top of the Sierra Interpretive Center, walk outside and take a short trail to the windy, barren, and alpine summit of Mammoth Mountain. The 11,053 foot mountain is a volcano that last erupted 50,000 years ago. From here, there is an outstanding 360 degree view that includes Mono Lake, Mount Dana, Long Valley, the town of Mammoth, Glass Mountain, Boundary Peak, White Mountain Peak, Mt. Morrison, the Mammoth Crest, the Silver Divide, the canyon of the Middle Fork San Joaquin River, the Minarets, Mt. Ritter, Banner Peak, and Mt. Lyell. Although this view is astonishing, you can walk to an even better one (though it is somewhat limited). Walk north along a windy ridge to a viewpoint on one of the mountain's lower summits, where there is an astonishing view down to the Mammoth Lakes Basin, including Horseshoe, George, Mamie, Mary, Barrett, McLeod, and TJ Lakes.

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    Panorama Gondola

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 3, 2007

    Panorama Gondola starts at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Lodge and takes visitors up to the summit of the mountain, with a middle stop at McCoy Station. This ride up the mountain is a pricey $18, but offers by far the easiest access to a sweeping panorama of the Mammoth area. The gondola system is also heavily used by mountain bikers in the summer, who ride up and bike down. The ride up offers nice views across to the Ritter Range; at the top, there is a cafe, and an interpretive center beside it. The center has a timeline of the history of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, covering the LADWP disputes, Manzanar, and the history of skiing at Mammoth. There are also panels identifying many of the peaks in the distance. There's also a special interactive feature that lets you explore information about the geology, history, and ecology of the region.

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    Inyo Crater Lakes

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 2, 2007

    The Inyo Crater Lakes are two small lakes nestled in the Inyo Craters, a string of volcanos. From the parking area/trailhead, a 1/4-mile long (one-way) trail leads to the lakes. The trail is a gentle uphill, passing through forest to the first crater, a barren crater with a peciluarly beautiful green lake in its mouth. The second crater, only a little farther down, is engulfed in the forest, and has a barely visible pond in its center. This is a nice short hike and somewhat more of a worthwhile place to visit than Earthquake Fault.

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    Earthquake Fault

    by chewy3326 Written Jul 2, 2007

    Earthquake Fault is an interesting geological feature in Inyo National Forest. The "fault" might not actually be one; although it could possibly have been created by an earthquake, more evidence points to it as a crack that formed as the land underneath cooled following volcanic activity. Even that's not certain; the origin of the fault is still disputed. The fault itself is a 60-foot deep, 10 to 20-foot wide crack. A short trail leads around a section of the fault, crossing the fault itself twice. During my visit I found snow and ice still at the bottom of the fault, which rarely sees sunlight.

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    Minaret Summit

    by chewy3326 Updated Jul 2, 2007

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    At about 9,200 feet, Minaret Summit has a very impressive view of the Sierra Nevada and in particular, the jagged peaks of the Ritter Range. The most prominent peaks in this view are the 13,000-foot Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak, and also the sharp Minarets, named for their resemblance to Muslim spires. The entire area is encompassed by the Ansel Adams Wilderness (formerly the Minarets Wilderness), named for the photographer who made these mountains famous across the world. I visited Minaret Summit during my first visit to Mammoth, when I could only dream about hiking to the spectacular alpine territory near the peaks; in my second visit, I did manage to do that, and I found some of the best scenery anywhere.

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    Convict Lake

    by chewy3326 Updated Jul 2, 2007

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    Blue and beautiful Convict Lake, popular with fishermen and boaters, lies beneath the massive peaks of Laurel Mountain and Mt. Morrison in Inyo National Forest. The lake got its name in the 19th century, when convicts escaping from a Nevada prison engaged in a gun battle here with authorities; the leader of the law enforcement force, Robert Morrison, was short and killed, lending his name to the mountain. The convicts once again escaped, but were eventually captured and hung; this event led to the lake's present name of Convict Lake. If you look at the mountains surrounding the lake, you'll notice that there are many different layers of colorful rock on each mountain, especially Laurel Mountain.

    A series of interpretive panels line the lakeside near the day-use parking lot explaining the lake's formation by glaciers. Trails lead out from the lake, but I unluckily did not have time to hike any of them.

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    Mammoth Village

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 17, 2007

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    Mammoth has a small pedestrian friendly area which passes for its downtown. The streets are lined with coffeeshops, restaurants and arts and crafts stores. It is a nice place to have coffee and people watch or to browse the local stores. There are also numerous gear shops for anyone who needs equipment for their outdoor pursuits. Free parking is offered in the summertime as well.

    The area reminded me of the pedestrian friendly streets of Vail, without the crowds and the affluence. There are plans to develop Mammoth Lakes into a world class ski resort, or at least an attempt to do so. Hopefully, the large resort and spa and other developments will not detract from the laid back environment that is Mammoth Lakes in the summertime.

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    Mammoth Mountain

    by goingsolo Updated Jun 17, 2007

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    The Mammoth Mountain ski area becomes a summer recreation paradise with a host of activities. From here, you can catch the shuttle bus to Devils Postpile National Monument and other dayhiking and backpacking destinations. The gondola will take you to the top of the mountain for great views of the Sierra. Bikes are available for rent and there's a rockwall for those who want to practice their skills.

    During Labor Day weekend, the area was a frenzy of activity with people partaking in the various activities while enjoying the perfect weather. Although the eastern Sierra region is brutally hot in the summer with temps near or over 100 degrees, Mammoth's elevation means cooler summer temperatures, which make it easier to take advantage of all of the activities.

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    Smokey Bear Flat

    by chewy3326 Written Jan 13, 2007

    Some of the best Mammoth-area views from US-395 are at Smokey Bear Flat, a small desert flat surrounded by forest with the towering Sierra crest to the south and west. The scenery at the flat is amazing. In winter, this area is occasionally used for snowboarding. The flat is named for Smokey Bear- a USDA US Forest Service mascot caught in Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico who for many years championed suppressing forest fires. That program is still around today, but there is much stronger opposition. While forest fires were originally thought of as destructive, its now known that natural forest fires help keep a forest healthy and clear underbrush.

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