Duck Lake Trail

MODERATE 64 reviews
#5 of 44 trails in

Duck Lake Trail is a 9.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Mammoth Lakes, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

9.5 miles
2132 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly





horseback riding

nature trips

trail running






wild flowers




This large, grand, austere mountain lake is close enough for a day hike from Mammoth Lakes, but far enough that it still offers solitude to those who want it. Wilderness permit required for overnight use.

11 minutes ago

Just hiked it on 5-20-18 with my dog. There is clear trail for about 1/4 mile if your lucky enough to find that section. After that it’s pretty much snowpack the whole way. Lots of postholing. Snowshoes recommended. Pretty much guessing where the trail was and made plenty wrong turns. Ended up following some ski tracks and made it to Barney. All the lakes were still frozen and made for some gorgeous views. Skelton from above was by far my favorite view. Mid thaw, valley down below, mountains to the right, beautiful! The snow made it tough but well worth the effort. Got to watch some backcountry skiers come down one of the mountains above Barney too. Awesome!

3 months ago

Camped overnight at Barney.

4 months ago

Hiked this trail early October. Tough fishing at Duck Lake but awesome scenery.

7 months ago

Perfect hike. This trail has something for everyone. Great views, bluffs, waterfalls, lakes, you name it.

7 months ago

This hike was amazing! We started out at lake Mary hiked to Arrowhead lake, to Skelton lake, to Barney lake, and finally Duck lake. All lakes were beautiful and had some gorgeous views. Every lake offered something different with immense energy all around. The hiking was moderate with some climbing that was pretty steady, but in few places a little steepness. I would not recommend taking kids or elderly on this entire hike because it is long and can be exhausting. The hike is worth it all though. Be sure to check out every lake along the way!!!

Happy Trailing!!!!

8 months ago

One of the best hikes in Mammoth Lakes. Three beautiful lakes even before getting to Duck Lake, which is exquisite. The final mile or so is a tougher climb over a rocky debris field from the decomposing peaks. You'll likely see patches of snow even late In the summer. There are beautiful views back toward Mammoth Mountain as you climb. A winner! The only downer is the horse and mile poop, it seems to be a favorite of Mammoth Stables also.

8 months ago

Such beautiful views especially around Duck Lake! One of the more beautiful hikes I've been on. Another bonus is you can drive to the trailhead as opposed to hikes in the valley, which requires you to take the sardine-like shuttle.

8 months ago

This is, by far, one of the best hikes/backpacking trips we have taken. We picked this trail because it was pet-friendly and not too far for the dog. We made it to Pika Lake in about 3 hours. There are plenty of places for the dogs to drink out of ponds and streams and lakes. Although it is uphill for most of the way out, it really wasn't that bad. We passed a lot of day hikers with dogs, trail runners and some
Horses. There are very few campsights at Duck Lake so we went to Pika Lake about a mile further. There are a lot of sights at Pika Lake, some near the water and some tucked away in the forest just up from the trail.

8 months ago

Incredible this is the must do hike in Mammoth Lakes.

8 months ago

Beautiful trail! With so much water this year even in September the lake was full, we encountered snow and many water features along the trail!

8 months ago

This is one of the most beautiful hikes I've done. We arrived Sunday afternoon so it was moderately busy on the way up but we hardly saw people on our way back. It took us about 5 1/2-6 hours to complete but that included stopping for rest and photos and then a nice lunch once we reached the pass. There's no shortage of spectacular views along the way but make sure to continue past the first lake and up the rocky, switchbacks for the best view. Bring plenty of water, snacks and bug repellent. The elevation gets to about 10,800 feet so that's something to keep in mind, too.

8 months ago

What an incredible hike! Broke in my new hiking boots on this trail.

8 months ago

Go on to Pika and enjoy the solitude!!

9 months ago

Amazing trail, very well made. Gets a little crowded simply due to convenient location near mammoth.

9 months ago

10.5 mile out and back hike. The elevation gain is moderate most of the way up. No snow on the trail. Bring insect repellent as there are mosquitos near the lakes. Beautiful views and many wildflowers still blooming-columbine, penstemon, paintbrush and more.

9 months ago

Pretty awesome & changing views. Up hill maybe st of the way in, but marked well. Gorgeous ending- go up switchback past the lake for best views at end. Tons of mosquitoes in hanging lakes/ponds along trial- bring insect repellent!!

9 months ago

I rated this Trail a 4 ONLY because of the mosquitos, going in late July they were so bad I got eaten alive so bring bug spray! Other than that this trail was awesome!

10 months ago

Great family hike! A bit tricky to get to the cliff jumping spot because the marsh area is very wet this year, but still made it across.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Beautiful trail in Mammoth. We backpacked in on a weekend so the trails were pretty crowded up until Barney lake. Then the ascent up the crest over to Duck Lake was pretty empty. There were only 3 other groups at the lake for the weekend so it felt like you almost had it all to yourself. Water was freezing even that late in the season, but amazing view of the Ansel Adams Wilderness can be found at the dam side of Duck Lake.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

It's a tough hike especially gong over the pass. Took 5 hours with several brakes. Arrowhead lake and Duck lake are the highlights.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

check out Ryan Rosario's review below for the first half of this hike. I recommend the fisherman's trail starting at Arrowhead as well. Mammoth Creek is beautiful.

From Skelton Lake to the base of the ascention to the pass...Barney Lake...pretty mild. From there to Duck Pass is moderately strenuous. Very rocky. Very gorgeous when you get to the pass. Check out Pike Lake and Duck Lake as well if you have time. Some nice off-trail adventuring.

Another popular hike is to attach this to Mammoth Crest via Crystal Lake at Lake George trailhead on through Deer Lakes ( semi cross-country). I'll be doing that in two days. Review to follow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Not an easy hike for beginners. Hiked all the way to Duck Lake. Took about 6 hours and 8 miles total. There are multiple lakes that you see on the way to Duck Lake. Beautiful view at the end but plan a whole day for this!

Monday, August 08, 2016

Nice hike, but we came up emerald trail and descended duck pass. Skeleton lake is much nicer then arrowhead

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Arrowhead Lake was beautiful and worth the hike

Friday, July 22, 2016

Favorite hike in Mammoth! Great Lakes, great views, great hike!

Monday, July 11, 2016


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We took Duck Pass trail to Duck Lake (past Arrowhead) and camped out overnight. This trail does not disappoint. At every turn there was something amazing to view. The first part of the trail is straight up but don't let that stop you. Once you get past that it starts to even out and you get the beautiful sceneries that the Sierra Nevadas promises you. The lakes you pass and the streams you cross make you stop in wonder. If you take the trail up over the pass to Duck Lake you will be rewarded with a deep blue sea of water. Some tips: Bring water it gets hot up there, the mosquitoes are the size of birds spray before you go, wear lots of sunscreen and don't forget your camera! Happy Hiking :)
Read more about our trip in my blog:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Great trail and good fishing good for all skill levels. Beautiful lake and views are awesome.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Done this trail many many times. Sometimes for just a quick jaunt to arrowhead for some fly fishing, and other times on backpacking trips I took Duck Pass to the PCT to Purple Lake. Beautiful, but brutal. Rocky and dangerous in many areas.
Pack really light and you'll have fun. The elevation might kick your butt more than anything. Leave no trace, please!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

I recommend parking at the trailhead. While the trolley is nice, it is about a mile uphill through the campground to get to the trailhead.

This is a classic trail for hikers in Mammoth. I only went up the Skelton but it was a lot of fun. At Arrowhead, there is a large waterfall at the northern end, and then take the fisherman's trail along the lake to the southernmost end, where you will find another high, beautiful waterfall. As you hike back to the main trail from the waterfall, there is an abandoned mining hamlet with a cabin, a bunch of metal equipment just laying there, and a guillotine-looking thing. Very interesting finds. Skelton Lake is pretty big and beautiful. I mainly just walked along the west shore and then returned to the campground.

I am not a big fan of the 0.5 miles of the trail closest to the campground because it is endless switchbacks with very high (2 ft?) rock steps etc. It's like being in a neverending labyrinth. The climb in this section is a bit intense but a good workout, and pretty typical of the trails in this area.

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