Explore the most popular birding 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.

Moderately strenuous hike with elevation all the way to the top, but then there are beautiful lakes and mountain views. Go in the morning and pack a lunch to share at the top by the lake.

Took my son on this trail for his first off pavement bike ride. He enjoyed it. Lots of flow and rhythm on downtown while uptown gets a little more tech. For beginners downtown will not disappoint. Some exposed roots and rocks, uptown would boost your skills. Connects to Paper Route and Shotgun about halfway down. Bring water. Be observant and let the advanced riders by please. Had a few people not yield to me and my son got a little frustrating.

on Heart Lake Trail

10 days ago

I don’t know why this is classified as easy - easy is something Grandma could do and this is most definitely NOT. It’s pretty steep - it’s all uphill until you get to the lake. The lake is pretty but there are better hikes in the area. But the views along the trail are amazing, the lake, IMO, is secondary

Trailhead was kind of confusing to find.You have to drive through a campground. There is a huge parking lot and you probably won’t have a hard time finding a place to park (hiked this over Fourth of July week and plenty of spaces). This is in the same parking lot as trailheads for the mine, duck and emerald lake. Go into the parking lot and go all the way around, almost to the exit - that’s where the heart lake trailhead is. Parking lot is a one way.

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.

13 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!

This is a really fun afternoon. we started at stop 6 for devil's postpile. Did the postpile then go up top of it and there's a trail entrance for rainbow falls. as someone else noted it is a sandy walk and can take it's toll. the falls are cool. go to lower falls the trail isn't bad and the river and small falls are great. Then back to stop 10. it ends up in the 5ish mile range. Tiring due to elevation and sandy trail, but totally worth it. Bring water and bug spray and a hat.

14 days ago

Amazing views and very beautiful hike. However, I would call it moderate, not easy. To me, easy is okay for older folks and kids. Easy to me is okay with regular shoes not hiking boots. Kids had a hard time and a few older folks in our group only made it half way. The switchbacks do not feel like easy. We took about 3 hours including breaks, photos.
Another note, the cold water creek campsite has multiple trail heads. We went to 2 others before finding the heart lake trailhead, but once we found it it was easy to tell and navigate.
All in all, I highly recommend this hike. Many people who passed us easily went up and down this trail, but keep in mind your group’s fitness level!

horseback riding
14 days ago

Very beautiful trail but had to turn back about a half-mile before reaching Sherwin Lake because it had too many boulders and my horse chipped her hoof and had difficulty finding footing. We turned back because it wasn’t worth risking an injury. 3 star rating for equestrian use.

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.

Pretty easy hike. Awesome view. Get there early, coming down we must have past 30+ people.

17 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.

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!

20 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!

We took the shuttle to stop 6, hiked to the bottom of the postpile (so unique!), then took the short loop to the top of the postpile (definitely a worthwhile perspective). We continued the trail to the aptly-named rainbow falls, and went an additional ~1/2 mi to the lower falls, where we found a lot of swimmers. On the way back, we hiked to shuttle stop 9, which shaved off a short distance. Fun and unique hike.

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.

The drive to get to the trailhead is really beautiful. Some lovely views along parts of the trail, especially on the way down, but the actual Sherwin Lakes paled in comparison to the many gorgeous lakes in Mammoth. This trail is relatively easy and goes by quick; it’s worthwhile to go about 5 mins past the lake to find a gorgeous redwood.

Summer months are hot up here so make sure you bring lots of water. It’s easy to get distracted and venture off trail since the infamous PCT and JMT run through here.

22 days ago

Great hike . Lots of flowers blooming including Mule Ears which are peaking. Relatively easy hike with very few people on the trail. Very dog friendly. Amazing views with a peak a boo even to Crowley.

I have hiked this trail several times and yes it is moderately difficult but not hard. The switchbacks three-quarters of the way into the trail is what gets ya. If you go too early in the season, you're going to have difficulty with the snow and if you go in early June the creek crossing can be difficult. However, you will be rewarded with the Majestic View from Mildred Lake.

beautiful hike to mildred, and yes there is a pretty tough creek crossing, can be sketch, but love that its a part of the trip to mildred. great views of some iconic sierra peaks the whole way up. lots of options once you make it to the lake, but you have to figure those out for yourself ;-]

A simple walk through some beautiful forest!! Devil's Postpile was too cool with a nice little shaded area to eat lunch before the rest of the hike to Rainbow Falls. The trail is very sandy and therefore can tire you out a bit so just pace yourself because, although not difficult, we met with a few older folks on the trail that didn't find it to be so easy -- if that's the case for you there are two spots to cut the hike short and head up to Reds Meadow Resort, and you'll still see some amazing sights! Myself, my wife, my 12 year old daughter and 6 year old son did great but we were certainly tired at the end! Rainbow Falls is breathtaking, a great reward at the end of the hike! Just save your strength since you have to then hike back up and out 1.3 miles to the resort and/or shuttle.

24 days ago

Nice trail. Hiked up with my wife and two kids, little guys is youngest at 6 years old, both kids did great. We added some mileage taking the Emerald Lake trail then going up and around to Skelton lake then back down past Arrowhead Lake -- 3 lakes in one!! I would highly recommend going this route to Skelton Lake. We just went and camped at Coldwater Campground June 2018 and it was gorgeous! Plenty of shade on the trail. Super fun and easy hike for beginners like us

Beautiful in June! Shuttle drops you off at .4mi from Devil’s Postpile. After that, it’s another 2 mi to Rainbow Falls. While its kid-friendly, the trail isn’t stroller-friendly. A jogging stroller is fine if you are comfortable exercising with one. There are many sunny spots, so make sure you’ve got a hat.

28 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.

went june 5-6, 2018. tough hike with amazing views. be sure to call or check-in and ask about snow levels. the bridge is out so also ask about the water level in the creek. hike is well worth it.

one option is to just do the easy hike to where the bridge is out and enjoy the waterfall and rapids.

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!

1 month ago

Beautiful and gorgeous trail with a little bit of an incline with switch backs, gorgeous views on the way up and when you reach the lake it's absolutely stunning and serene, definitely don't miss this gem of a hike

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