South Tufa Loop Trail is a 0.8 mile heavily 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 but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 0.8 miles Elevation Gain: 29 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

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.

hiking
bugs
fee
no shade
3 days ago

hiking
2 months ago

Did this last fall, but worth the stop if you’re going to Yosemite from this side!

hiking
3 months ago

Easy & beautiful even w the flu

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

Very quick and easy way to check out the tufas and Mono Lake!

recorded South Tufa Loop Trail

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

recorded Recording - Oct 06, 12:02 PM

hiking
no shade
7 months ago

hiking
no shade
8 months ago

Explored Mono Lake around 6PM on a week day and it was somewhat busy, however, the temperature was lovely at that time of the day. You do need to buy a $3 pass/permit and it is cash only. Lots of flies but they didn't bother us while we walked around and neither did the smell of the lake. The tufas are really cool as the lake is pretty. Definitely a must-see~! ☆IG: @anko_littledude

hiking
no shade
8 months ago

hiking
no shade
8 months ago

Easy trail but no shade. Lots of information on Mono Lake ecosystem. Flies did not bother us and no strong odor. Definitely worth the detour.

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no shade
scramble
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Mono lake is still spectacular. If you are going to Yosemite. Go here. Unlike anywhere you have ever been. Worth the drive. Look at the pics. You will feel like you are in another planet.

hiking
no shade
10 months ago

hiking
10 months ago

1.2 mile hike

hiking
no shade
10 months ago

Cool to see the Tufa! Hot at midday without shade.

hiking
10 months ago

Very pretty Go early with sunrise: gorgeous light and colors Many angle to take pictures from

hiking
10 months ago

great photo opportunities at this unique area made by salt. small hike with plenty of wildlife from birds, lizards, and many more.

walking
no shade
10 months ago

Magnifique promenade, très facile

hiking
10 months ago

It was a very easy trail and the views are phenomenal.

hiking
bugs
no shade
11 months ago

An unearthly variant from your normal hike in the forest or desert. Very flat interesting walk with tufas. Something you don’t see every day. Well worth a side trip.

hiking
11 months ago

What an amazing place to visit! So good that the lake is being restored.

hiking
11 months ago

Once down to the water the views are amazing! We were there on a warm day but no bugs. We got some great photos. Recommend!

hiking
bugs
no shade
11 months ago

Park in the dirt/rock lot and walk down the boardwalk/pavement to the water. Great for pictures! Beware of the flies that are home to the lake. Some people brought dogs and seemed to do well. No shade so wear sunscreen.

hiking
no shade
Mon May 20 2019

Unique place, easy loop. Take water and sun protection. Try to make it at sunrise. Best time to take pics.

hiking
Sat Oct 13 2018

Pretty unique!

Wed Oct 10 2018

Nice pit stop. The tufa rocks were interesting to look at but the flies and smell was a little off putting. $3/person cash

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