Inyo Craters Trail

EASY 21 reviews
#13 of 46 trails in

Inyo Craters Trail is a 1.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Pinecrest, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
1.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
239 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

off road driving

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

cross country skiing

forest

lake

views

no dogs

Short hike to two impressive craters filled with water in Inyo National Forest Mammoth Lakes Ranger district. The hike to the first two craters is a short scenic trail heavily shaded by a steady canopy of trees. The trail skirts the perimeter of the first crater, where you can step down to an observation area to take in the intense views of the turquoise water set against the backdrop of Mammoth Mountain. Continue following the trail as it makes a slight climb up to the second crater, which holds a smaller darker lake and is more obstructed by trees. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot. These craters are the most recently active eruptive centers of the Long Valley Caldera, dating from about 500 to 600 years ago. There are three main craters-North, South, and the crater at the summit of Deer Mountain.

3 days ago

Snow melted! We could drive down to the parking lot on the access road which required careful navigating in our SUV to avoid the 3 R's: rocks, roots and ruts. Take a moment to read the informative sign before you go up. It is amazing to imagine their formation. Worth seeing if you are here.

hiking
10 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

Snow piles on road prevented us from driving up to the trailhead, so we just walked up. Total distance was about 5 miles. Easy, lovely hike up to the craters. Ate lunch at the picnic table and had the place to ourselves. It was a very pleasant afternoon.

hiking
18 days ago

Still unable to park at the trailhead as of today. Some pretty thick areas of snow preventing all vehicles from getting there. It's melting fast though!

The walk from where you park to the trailhead isn't the most glamorous but there are definitely quite a few other trails that start or link up throughout there.
There's plenty of roads/trails to explore down there. Great place for mountain bikes.

The beauty of the whole trail is when you finally make it to the Craters. There's a big crater and a smaller one. Both have lakes at their base and snow inside the crater. If you listen, you can hear all the frogs singing their hearts out. There is a trail that wraps around both Craters completely.

Got to see and get a few great pictures of some deer, butterflies, and these wonderfully funny orange and brown birds. Great area for birding as well as mountain biking, snowshoeing and XC. I see some of the more adventurous actually snowshoed down into the small crater!

25 days ago

Just hiked it this afternoon. About 1/3 of the trail covered in snow but still hikable.

hiking
2 months ago

Short, but pleasant.

snowshoeing
3 months ago

Had to park 1.5mi from trailhead, but that just made the hike longer & better. Peaceful and beautiful. Met a couple nice folks/dogs but mostly was alone.

hiking
4 months ago

snowshoeing
5 months ago

hiking
7 months ago

7 months ago

walking
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

hiking
11 months ago

Friday, March 25, 2016

hiking
Saturday, August 16, 2014

hiking
Monday, June 30, 2014

Hike this with 4 adults and 7 children ranging from 3 years old to 12 years old. Other than the three year old being in a Kelty kids backpack, everyone was able to hike this trail with ease. It's a short loop to the first and second craters. Recommended for all experience levels.

hiking
Friday, June 27, 2014

hiking
Saturday, November 02, 2013

This was a fun time. Easy hike to the uppermost crater, until about 20 ft from the top. The ground is pumice and very slippery. Would be best with some climbing gear, alas, I'm a hiker only, not much of a climber! You can see for miles toward Mammoth and the White Mts.

hiking
Wednesday, July 25, 2012