Mammoth Lakes Area Trails Report

August 13, 2013


Careful observation reveals hints of Fall all around the Mammoth Lakes area. Splotches of red and gold – often times just a few leaves on a single limb – dot quacking aspen groves and monarch butterflies can be seen heading south.


Despite these harbingers of Summer’s winding down, there’s still lots of Summer color out there. You just have to head up a little higher or look closer to find it.  As we mentioned last week, flowers are still abundant up around Emerald Lake. For a wonderfully fragrant display of later season flowers, take a stroll up the newly refurbished Panorama Dome trail. Yellow mounds of rabbitbrush and goldenbush (smelly, sticky leaves) punctuate these sagebrush slopes, and in calm weather should be covered with butterflies, bees and beetles.  


After enjoying they view from Panorama Dome, take some time to re-discover the interpretive displays and rollercoaster boardwalk at the Mammoth City Interpretive Site along Old Mammoth Road. The old boardwalk is rather rickety so be careful, but it is now free of trees thanks to a tip from a local who alerted us the trail was unwalkable and the hard work of our Lakes Basin Steward. The mix of open slopes, aspen groves and towering lodgepole pines surrounding this historic township are a great place to sit quietly and watch for deer and forest-dwelling birds, such as the Red Crossbill, Mountain Chickadee and any of the three species of diminutive nuthatches.


Been up on the Mammoth Crest lately? Well, either way, now that the smoke has cleared, this ridge at the top of the Sierra makes a great destination. Follow the popular Crystal Lake Trail up for one switchbacking mile till the junction to Crystal Lake (the main destination for most folks) and continue right up the trail to the Crest at 10,400’.  


Another great trail that doesn’t see as much use as many of the others in the Basin is the Twin Lakes to Hole in the Wall trail. Starting at a well signed, rock delineated trailhead in the back of the Twin Lakes Campground, this trail was extensively rehabilitated about five years ago. Massive red firs provide great posts to lean on as you catch your breath climbing up and out of the campground toward grand views near the Hole in the Wall and Dragon’s Back trail junctions.


This trail report is provided by Friends of the Inyo with support from the Town of Mammoth Lakes – Mammoth Lakes Trails System funding. The next opportunity to get out and give back to your public lands is August 17th at the Hot Creek Geologic Interpretive Site. Join the Inyo National Forest, MLTPA and Friends of the Inyo for the fifth 2013 Summer of Stewardship project working to improve and maintain these popular trails. For more info contact Drew Foster at