South Tufa Loop Trail

EASY 31 reviews

South Tufa Loop Trail is a 0.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Lee Vining, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

0.8 miles
36 feet

dog friendly

kid friendly



mountain biking

nature trips

scenic driving


whitewater kayaking



wild flowers




washed out

Eastern California's dramatic landscapes don't end at the Sierra Nevada mountain range as anyone who's visited Mono Lake will attest. Whether approaching on a road trip along US395 or descending the snaking highway from Tioga Pass and Yosemite National Park, the unique sights of Mono Lake are unmistakable and incredibly picturesque. A curious sixty-five square mile expanse of water located 6,400 feet above sea level, Mono Lake exists thanks to the run-off from the towering eastern Sierras. Unlike most lakes, Mono Lake has no outlet and until recently only ever lost its water to evaporation, giving rise to some unusual features. Evaporation makes the lake three times more salty than the ocean, which is why you won't find any fish in these waters. Life still finds a way though, and conditions are perfect for the diminutive brine shrimp and alkali flies both of which flourish here and draw the attentions of migratory birds in their millions. Impressive at a distance, Mono Lake is just as interesting up close. Visit the South Tufa Grove just five miles off the 395 and explore the shoreline of the lake where you'll find the curious tufa towers which thrive here. Formed by the reaction between the calcium-rich underwater springs and the lake salts, limestone deposits accumulate into strange and other-worldly tufa towers up to thirty feet in height. A hike of the short South Tufa interpretive trail coupled with a trip to the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center is the most popular way to experience the lake. Those with more time might be interested in launching kayaks from Navy Beach next to the South Tufa area, and the most adventurous of all may choose to venture a dip in the waters. The reserve is well signposted off the 395 and 120 highways and ample parking is available. A small fee is payable at the ranger station, which is also the trailhead for this short trail.

25 days ago

The perfect way to view the special nature of mono lake!

28 days ago

30 days ago

1 month ago

2 months ago

You really get to experience the previous depth of Mono prior to the LA water district draining some of the water. I would suggest learning about tufa formation at the visitors center (5 miles up the road) and then seeing the tufas. Walking along these wonderful formations and thinking about how they formed under water makes you appreciate the experience even more! The walk is like a sandy beach, but more sturdy ground. The trail is a complete loop from the parking lot. Fee is $3.00 and I would suggest paying at the visitors center so you can have something to display in your car's dash or you can use a valid national parks pass.

4 months ago

7 months ago

7 months ago

7 months ago

Strange and beautiful. Stopped and did this loop way, way back. 5 stars just because it's the only place I've ever seen like it. we use to come through quite a bit on motorcycle rides.

9 months ago

10 months ago

One of the most Unique place I have had the privilege of seeing, Great place to spend a few hours!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fabulous views. A site to see and explore.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

It was really nice didn't know the trail was this long.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Interesting natural formation. Approximately 6000 feet above sea level, the down pour from sierras created this lake, and since there is no outlet to this lake, when evaporates creates excess salt. Calcium from spring water interacts with salt creating limestones that forms tufas/towers up to 30 feet in height. So much science

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Awesome flat stroll down to Mono Lake and some amazing tufa formations. Can be buggy, but the brine flies shouldn't bother you. Go in early morning or late afternoon to catch the right light with some great views across Mono Lake to the eastern Sierras. You'll see birds, lizards, maybe some snakes and maybe a rabbit. Highly recommend this if you make a stop at Mono Lake. Good description here:

Monday, September 07, 2015

Tufas were something I've never seen very cool

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nice easy stroll through a unique and beautiful landscape. You can spend half a day birdwatching and photographing this area. We visited in the morning and then returned again the same evening to get some amazing tufa and sunset pictures. A must see if you are near the east side of Yosemite or in the Lee Vining area.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A bizarre site to behold indeed. Very cool and almost prehistoric looking. If you're in the area, it's a must see. The water had like red little plankton or something cruising around in it and the formations are amazing. A super easy walk.