Mammoth Crest Traverse Trail is a 17.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Mammoth Lakes, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until September.
I went as far as Deer Lakes, took about 5 hours in, 3.5 back (I'm a moderate hiker, & I pause fairly frequently to take pictures). A good amount of elevation gain. I went in early July & there were a bunch of great wild flowers at the upper elevations. There's a lot of varied scenery & a fair amount of exposure. It's cool to look up at the imposing monolith you see when you start & then be able to look down on it when you're up near the top. There were no streams along the way, so only water was at Deer Lakes. Make sure to go up to the top one, you can barely see it when you view the lakes from the trail as you start descending into the valley. It's absolutely stunning, that cool green color. You see mature trout just cruising through the pristine water. Great to jump in as it's deeper than the lower lakes & fewer mosquitos. Had the whole thing to myself for an hour before heading back.
We climbed Mammoth Crest Trail in Summer of 2013; loved it! The scenery is fabulous! You catch the trailhead at Lake George, and it's a pretty popular and well-traveled path up to Crystal Lake (with a healthy elevation gain too--so breathe!). Just before you get to Crystal there's a cut off that will then take you further up to the ridge. Once you get here, the scenery is stunning. You keep getting higher and get to high meadows and wild flowers. You can stop for lunch here, relax and literally smell the flowers, then head back down the same way, or if you're still day hiking, and you have enough food, energy and daylight, you can keep going and hike down to the Deer Lakes. Then from Deer Lakes you can cross-country it (no path) and meet up with the path at Duck Lake. From Duck Lake you can continue your loop with a gentle downslope (because you did all the hard work on the way up...) coming out at the trailhead at Coldwater Creek. Once you're at Coldwater Creek you will need to hike down to the road, and hopefully catch the tram to take you back to your car at Lake George. This is an awesome hike for day hikers. Not recommended for small children, but for healthy hikers with plenty of food and water. This loop that I've just covered will take you all day so get an early start.
We climbed up to the top of the north end of the crest and then followed a trail to the west overlooking lake mccloud where they do serious rock climbing. Ran out of time but the views of the lakes and back side of mammoth mtn were cool. Not to busy once you pass the crystal lake turn off. Dogs allowed.
Mammoth Crest trail is an awesome trail run out of Lake George, most folk on trail kick off at the Crystal Lake trail junction. The remaining 10+ miles you'll have very litl' traffic. Crossing the crest West of Crystal Crags/Lake is enjoyable, once you reach the Deer Lakes area it is off trail routing until you drop down into Duck/Pika Lakes, you can turn around at this point or head up right side/SouthEast of Blue Crags & off trail scramble to Duck/Pika Lakes & return to Lake George via the Barney/Skelton/Arrowhead Lakes trail, at Arrowhead Lake take the left trail towards Bartlett Lake to Lake George.