Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Mammoth Lakes with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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
6 days ago

This place was perfect for us, the first day we backpacked to pika lake then crossed the stream that runs along the main trail to enter the apex of the 4 lakes in the valley. The second day we just explored the valley and would return to our site periodically for meals and lounging. This place is paradise, treat it gently!

hiking
11 days ago

We did this hike as a day hike (excluding the out and back section to Ediza lake) on June 18. We took the PCT out and the John Muir Trail back using the Shadow Creek trail to complete the loop as shown. Conditions were good and most of the snow is melted (though some small patches still exist). This is a beautiful hike and the John Muir Trail section is quite spectacular. It was a long hike, but very doable in a day if fit for that kind of distance. I would definitely do this hike again.

backpacking
12 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
14 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.

backpacking
16 days ago

6-6-18 Started at 10:15 and made it to camp at 15:30. Great hike, I would not rate this hike as moderate, maybe up to Sherwin lakes, but not to Valentine lake (quite hard). Onto the review.

Start elevation 7725'. Lower half of trail (about 1 miles or so) is loamy dirt, the rest of the trail is dirt with lots and lots of granite rocks, some big some smaller loose rock perfect to roll your ankle on. Trail is mostly shaded with stretches of sunny areas so wear sunscreen. You will have a set of switch backs before Sherwin lakes, a little elevation loss and a flat section then it really ramps up to Valentine lake.

There is another set of switch backs before Valentine lake and a few straight shots up the hill. Trail ends at the exit side of lake (elevation 9670'), well that we could find. There is one small snow crossing at the top just before the lake. If you head to the right and carefully cross the creek and bushwack a bit there are some sweet camp sites.

The views are spectacular. Temps were in the mid 70's going up and dropping quickly when the wind picked up. It hit 32* at night. If you like fishing bring a pole, there are tons of brooke trout pan sized (we will fish next time).

PLEASE PACK OUT WHAT YOU TAKE IN!!!!! We carried out a ton of trash left behind. A great short backpacking trip.

You will need a permit to overnight at Valentine lake, you can reserve one online (Valentine lake JM02 entrance) or the day before you're camp trip at 11:00 at the mammoth visitors center.

I will be back again!

Surprised we had cell service the whole way!

Great mellow hike for the family and the dogs. Decent elevation but. Great views.

hiking
19 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!

hiking
19 days ago

5 stars rating after sherwin lake.. the hike from sherwin to valentine was so much fun . Did this hike in April still had snow in the last quarter mile. Beautiful big lake. My dog loved it so much!

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
27 days 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!

Great day hike, took the Sherwin Lake trail, past Sherwin Lake, then to a small pond coming down from Valentine Lake, finally up to the actual Lake. There are two sets of switchbacks, early in the trail then on the top of the trail right before the lake. River coming down the lake is a great place to refuel water (we have a water filter pump). Just a little snow but not an issue. My GPS had us at 10.5 miles in and back with moderate altitude gain.

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
1 month ago

Did as part of a hike into Devil's Postpile and Rainbow falls. A little bit hard to follow trail on the way up due to snow. The trail seemed to deviate at the end from what was shown on the topo and https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/21/mammoth-pass-trail
We ended up popping out by Red's Meadow Resort, not the campground. Ends up being slightly shorter than what was described on the Mammoth Trails website. Not much shade on the way down the hill to Red's Meadow Resort. Fill up water at the Red's Meadow Resort for the walk back up the hill!

hiking
1 month ago

Did this one June 2nd. Great hike with awesome views at the lake, perfect for a lunch / mid point refuel. A little bit of snow on the trail towards the top, but no hazard at all. My GPS clocked this at 10.5 miles and 2,300 ft of gain

fishing
1 month ago

Trail is 98% passable now. Boots only touched snow a handful of times and those patches were very small and easily passable

backpacking
1 month ago

Did this 5/27-28/18 and there was snow along the last 1/4 mile. We got hit with a little rain and sleet once we got to Lost Lake, but kept going once it died down a little. The switchbacks at the top were not visible, so we followed the footsteps in the snow along the stream made by previous hikers, which also meant a higher grade climb. With our pack weight, we would sometimes posthole or slip on the icy snow. We saw groups of day hikers having trouble navigating through the snow, also. It would likely help to have shoe chains next time. Once at the top, you have to cross the stream to get to a few good camp spots. Go higher up away from the lake to find some clearings. We found a good spot to camp about 150 feet up, with views of the surrounding mountains and even the town of Mammoth in the distance. We couldn't travel far parallel to the lake due to marshy ground and large boulders. The lake was partially frozen on top. At night we heard a choir of what may have been the endangered yellow-legged mountain frogs, which was cool. We only saw one other backpacker camping at the lake, and not many people coming up on our way back down. Also had cell phone reception at the lake. We started at the Valentine Lake trailhead, which is east of the Sherwin Lake trailhead, and is approximately 4.5 miles each way. This was a relatively short hike, but strenuous at the top with the snow.

hiking
1 month ago

Just hiked on 5-22-18 trail is in great condition right up until the final switchbacks start going up to valentine lake. There are none, because it’s covered in snow. The track goes straight up so bring your micro spikes and get ready. It’s tough but short. Lake is still mostly frozen. Incredible hike with so many highlights I could go on forever. Rained on me and my dog the whole way back with a hale storm thrown in to boot!

hiking
1 month 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
2 months ago

We actually made a loop hike from Agnew Meadows to Ediza, then stayed the next night at Minnaret Lake having hiked by Iceberg and Cecile. That off-trail section was a bit sketchy due to incline and tallus. However, the Minnarets presiding over all of those gorgeous lakes were breathtaking. Ediza L. to Minnaret L. is some of the most beautiful land in Ansel Adams Wilderness to me, and that is really saying something because there are many spectacular places there.

backpacking
4 months ago

Camped overnight at Barney.

fishing
6 months ago

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

I want to spread my ashes here. That's how beautiful it is.

One star because you suck at the internet?

Pretty solid hike with intermittent lovely views along the way. The first chunk is a grunt heading out of the parking area, with some excellent views of the lakes down in the valley basin. There are lots of day hikers in the first part of the hike, but it thins out later.

Headed toward Mammoth Pass you lose tree coverage it can get pretty hot in the sun. Again, there are nice views here. Then you move into long crank up to a bit over 11,000 feet. You lose the views for a while until you get to a point with a great view back down a rocky valley to the floor below.
The three lakes are nice. We had great luck fishing in the lower lake, but didn't see anything in the northern lake, where we camped. Ended up doing a day hike to the ridge looking back down to Lake Mary, which also gave some nice views.

backpacking
9 months ago

Completely breathtaking. Start at Agnew Meadows, snack at Shadow Lake, and have lunch at Ediza. Trail was easy to follow with good signage. Took about 9 hours round trip with many stops for photos, snacks, and a long lunch. My dog absolutely loved it as well. Stream crossing to get to Ediza Lake is difficult to find. There is a log crossing before the trail crossing. I crossed with the pup across some rocks a little before the trail crossing. You can continue along a bit of a bolder scramble (there is somewhat of a trail) and take some rocks across at the lake. Worth an overnight trip which I plan to do next time.

We went to purple lake it's beautiful fun hike however it's 10.5 there ! I recommend it!

hiking
9 months ago

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

Beautiful! Gorgeous! Amazing! I could go on, but words don't describe how picturesque this hike was. The views at the top are breathtaking. Would highly recommend this trail to everyone.

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!!!!

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