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Duck Pass and Pika Lake Trail

MODERATE 278 reviews
#3 of 64 trails in

Duck Pass and Pika Lake Trail is a 9.5 mile heavily 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

camping

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

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.

hiking
rocky
snow
12 days ago

Great day hike, even in the snow. We started at around 9:30 on Nov 24 and had great conditions. Lots of shade until you go through Duck Pass. There were plenty of footprints to follow until after the Pass, but then we followed AllTrails to Pika Lake and it was fine. Saw several bear prints at Pika Lake, so be aware! Going all the way to Pika was about 11 miles round trip. Steep incline for a bit to get to Duck Pass but otherwise moderate. Definitely recommend, the views are beautiful!

26 days ago

This is a spectacular hike! It's two hikes, really: the first "half," to Barney Lake, is easy - you're walking through open forest so there's a fair amount of cover (should be comfortable during warmer months). The incline is steady enough to get your heart pumping but never steep. Once you get to Barney, though, you'll look up and realize there's a huge mountain of granite you'll have to hike over to get to Duck Lake and finally Pika Lake. Now the real ascent begins, those switchbacks are for real and the trail is totally exposed (I'm thinking it would be fairly warm in the summer). I'm a regular hiker with decent fitness, and during this part of the trail Mother Nature does not let you forget you are on her turf. But the views are indescribable. And they payoff at the summit, looking down on Duck Lake, is something to behold. No bugs this time of year. Make it a point to get all the way to Pika. Get out early so you don't lose daylight, and layer wisely so you don't get too cold.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a well marked out & back trail with lots of great scenery. The first couple of miles was under cover & the rest exposed. It was worth it to go off trail a short distance to Arrowhead lake. Lots of fish in the lake if you’re into that. I walked along the lake and then followed the stream up and back to the trail. It was a bit steep & it would have been easier to go back the way I came. no regrets. The final destination Duck lake/Pika Lake was worth the hike & would be a great place to camp. I ate lunch, enjoyed the scenery, & quiet for a bit before heading back.

hiking
1 month ago

Great long distance day hike. the lakes on the way up were beautiful. Great vistas. Met lots of nice fellow hikers on the way.

hiking
1 month ago

This was a great hike!! we left early and avoided any other hikers. all of the lakes are beautiful.

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Beautiful Trail! We hiked this on 10/10/19. The views keep getting better as you go up. Our main destination was Duck Lake but there are several other beautiful lakes along the way as well. The last pass before you get to Duck lake is the most rocky and the steepest. It’s well paved though so you should be fine. Just have good boots and stay hydrated.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

it's absolutely beautiful! and the majority of the trail is pretty gradual and well traveled. but there is horse poop everywhere. it smelled awful and was a total pain to have to constantly step around. the last part of the trail is very difficult and very rocky so get good insoles. the end of the trail doesn't get you very close to the lake, you have to continue hiking for another mile or so.while very beautiful I don't think I'd do it again, at least not all the way to duck lake or maybe only if we did overnight. unfortunately because we took our sweet time enjoying the lake and the trail on the way, we didn't have much time to enjoy duck lake.

hiking
2 months ago

Duck lake is amazing! We didn’t make it down to pika and instead went to the very end of duck. No regrets. It was beautiful. If you have the energy definitely do both. It was 11.2 to the end of duck without dropping down to pika.

hiking
2 months ago

Duck lake is amazing! We didn’t make it down to pika and instead went to the very end of duck. No regrets. It was beautiful. If you have the energy definitely do both. It was 11.2 to the end of duck without dropping down to pika.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Rocky. Put ur rocky insoles in.

hiking
3 months ago

Really nice hike with rewarding views. Hard to believe there are alpine lakes that big! There were some bugs at lower elevations. Dog loved it.

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

Established trail, shady, but steep & rocky and at altitude so stopped often, being from sea level. Drive through Coldwater campground to get to trail.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful lakes all through this hike!

hiking
rocky
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

We decided to get to Duck Lake after feeling great after visiting Barney lake. The last 1.5 mile climb was definitely worth the views at duck lake. Just make sure to take your time and bring plenty of water and snacks!

hiking
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

did a two night but had to stop at Barney the first night due to altitude sickness. the trail was in great condition. went to pika but it was covered by skeeters. went back to Duck lake and found a perfect camping spot that gave an amazing view of Duck lake. take it slow and have plenty of water. bugs weren't bad coming up or while at Duck.

hiking
3 months ago

My friends and I did this is a day hike which was definitely a great option. The trail is easy to follow with lots of smaller lakes to stop at if you’d like a break for lunch. Once you start to really head upwards the views become more and more breathtaking! Take your time, stay hydrated, and bring lots of snacks. We ended up at Duck Lake and passed on going to pika. Duck lake was the spot and we stayed there for a couple hours. Some of us drew, some of us explored, some of us napped or ate snacks. This lake is a true testament to hike with rewards. You really feel like you’re up high in the sky at 11,000ft next to a cold snow melt body of water. Even if it’s hot out, pack a down jacket and even a hat because the wind can be quite brisk and to best enjoy your time, you’re going to want to be comfortable.

hiking
bugs
3 months ago

backpacking
bugs
3 months ago

Did this with a small group - we stayed one night at Duck lake (permit required) then came back the next morning. The plan was to go all the way to Pika lake, but due to injury and altitude sickness for some of the group members we stopped a bit earlier, totaling 8.5 miles roundtrip. We had absolutely gorgeous weather for the trip, and were armed to the teeth with sunscreen and bug spray (not as many bugs as expected due to the reviews, but it still came in handy as the mosquitoes munched on us quite a bit). Plenty of parking at the trailhead. We started at 1:40pm and it took us 4 hours 20 minutes to get to Duck lake (slow and steady). Most of the elevation gain was the last 1 1/2 miles getting over the highest point - a ton of switchbacks with no shade. We picked a spot a ways from the trail to set up and camp. The views and night sky were spectacular. Bear canisters were required for all food and scented items. I also had to string up some extra food that didn’t fit. We each had 3L hydration reservoirs and went through that easily the first day. I brought along my platypus gravity filter and we refilled the next morning with the crystal lake water. On the way back the next day we started at 10:45am and made it back to the car around 1:30pm.

backpacking
bugs
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful! Did this as a one day weekend trip and it was really nice. The views were stunning and the weather was perfect. Bugs weren't horrible for us but still there! There were some brutal parts of the trail too. we were a group of 4 and it took us 4 hours. one person had a prior knee injury and the uphill was just too much for him, but it was still doable.

hiking
bugs
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

Tough trail in the way up and for the first part of the way back. Be prepared for no shade the last 1.5+ as you do the steep section of very rocky switchbacks. Being mosquito stuff as they are out in force-regardless of the time of day. Also be prepared to watch for horse crap from end to end of the trail. Beautiful views along the trail and don’t cheat yourself by stopping at the Duck Lake overlook. Once you reach the top of the switchbacks after Barney lake definitely go down the mountain on the other side to get closer to the lake. The meadows are wonderfully beautiful and it you stop at the top near the Pika Trail sign you’ll miss out on the most glorious part. Pack plenty of water and give yourself time if you haven’t hiked in altitude before.

hiking
3 months ago

The view along the way is very awesome!

An absolutely beautiful trail - lotsa bugs in certain places but if you have a slight breeze (or good bug spray) they’re not an issue.

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