Duck Lake Trail

MODERATE 100 reviews
#5 of 45 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.

DISTANCE
9.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,132 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

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 hours ago

It’s not easy, but its also not too strenuous. Gorgeous views are worth it. I did it in about 5 hours, with brief stops for rests or photos. There was ample parking at the trailhead and bathrooms (with flushing toilets and TP!) The first part was nicely shaded and woodsy, but the back half you are pretty exposed as you climb up rocky switchbacks. On a Saturday you won’t be the only one on the trail, but it’s not very crowded — there were spans of time when I didn’t pass by or see anyone for 30 or 40 mins. If you’re into a shorter hike, Skelton Lake is gorgeous and a worthy destination, without as much climbing as you need to do to get to Duck Lake.

hiking
23 hours ago

This was our first hike in the Mammoth Lakes area and we couldn’t be happier we started here. Beautiful trail leading to multiple stunning lakes. Other reviews give a great description of the trail - here’s what we found:
- Mosquitos were not bad at all (we were expecting much worse given the recent reviews) but somewhat active at beginning of trail.
- Barney Lake is worth the trail if that’s all you get to (and it’s a fairly easy hike to get there). If you go, hike past Barney and up the switchbacks a bit to get a view back onto the lake and the mountains.
- We took a right at Duck Lake and walked out about .25 miles - it was enough for us to get a sense of the lake. Round trip about 8 miles which was a perfect first day in the mountains.
- The trail is popular and includes runners - some were a bit rude and passed us without saying a word. Yes, it’s their trail too but we still found this way of sharing the mountains rude.
- We returned via the Emerald Trail Lake and highly recommend it. Emerald Lake was beautiful and the trail was a smooth downhill back to the parking lot.

Fabulous hike and highly recommended!

Great hike ,was a bit challenging but worth it when we got to Duck Lake. Beautiful wildflowers and Thankfully no mosquitos !

fishing
5 days ago

Great trail if you want to fish away from the crowds. Incredible views from the ridge above duck lake. A long day hike but gradual inclines make it doable. Bugs weren’t that bad but wear the juice for sure. Not much shade so dress accordingly and bring 3 liters of water or a way to sterilize the creek water.

hiking
8 days ago

This trail was worth every minute of the 7 hours we spent on it! The views were phenomenal and nothing else compared to the beauty we saw here. The following day I went to Devil’s Postpile and Rainbow falls and found them to be less impressive because I went on this hike the day before. We took beautiful pictures at each of the stops we saw on the trail so if you plan on stopping to take in the sights, it will more than likely take you about 7 hours as well.

A word of warning, we went on 7/8/18 and the mosquitos were absolutely terrible even though we were using Off Deep Woods spray. Consider covering up more or using a bug repellent that’s more lotion based.

backpacking
19 days ago

Beautiful views along the string of lakes from the Coldwater Campgrounds at the base of Lake Mary. Great options for overnight permit camping at skeleton lake, Pika lake, duck lake or purple lake! The rocky Duck Pass is long and exposed so best to get here before the heat of midday. The view from the top looking back towards Lake Mary is gorgeous, but as soon as you cross the saddle and drop in to Duck Lake, wow. Totally worth it. Can be done as a day hike or add on for the overnight. Mosquitoes were viscious (typical at this time of year) so don't forget protective clothing or bug spray!

hiking
20 days ago

Hiked 7/1/18.

Duck Lake Trail is a moderately challenging hike that leads to Arrowhead Lake, Emerald Lake, Skelton Lake, and Duck Lake. The trail is beautiful, quiet, and moderately shaded with several types of wildflowers along the way. Just don’t stand in one place too long, as the mosquitoes are out in full force. We were fully covered but wished we would’ve worn mosquito repellant.

hiking
26 days ago

Hiked 6/25/18.

This is a gorgeous hike with amazing views of several lakes and mountain ranges. Great panoramic views start from around Skeleton Lake, but the walk is beautiful before this point. There are a few patches of snow covering the path as you climb towards the saddle just after Barney Lake but these are easily passable. This path is fairly well trafficked to Barney Lake with significantly fewer people after this point. Fairly exposed - bring sunscreen!

26 days ago

Duck Lake is one of the most beautiful alpine lakes we’ve ever seen, with bright blue water and surrounding glacier-covered peaks. The views along the way near Barney Lake are also phenomenal. There were a few patches of snow (which were easy to navigate) when we hiked on 6/23/18. Nice views on the stretch to Pika Lake; plan to go to Duck Pass next time.

camping
1 month ago

A super scenic hike and there wasn’t too much snow left on the trail. It’s easily passable but bring dry socks if you’re camping out!

1 month ago

Very scenic hike with dramatic alpine scenery. Went yesterday up to the Duck lake pass - the upper part of the hike is sometimes under snow so had to hike around on talus. We were wearing our street shoes and managed to walk around most of the snow. No mosquitoes yet!

hiking
2 months 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!

backpacking
5 months ago

Camped overnight at Barney.

fishing
6 months ago

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

hiking
9 months ago

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

hiking
9 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!!!!

hiking
10 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.

10 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.

backpacking
10 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.

10 months ago

Incredible this is the must do hike in Mammoth Lakes.

10 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!

hiking
10 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.

hiking
10 months ago

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

10 months ago

Go on to Pika and enjoy the solitude!!

11 months ago

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

hiking
11 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.

hiking
11 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!!

11 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!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

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.

backpacking
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.

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