Mammoth Area Trails Report

September 3, 2013


Labor Day weekend has come and gone now and left a hint of fall in the air. The days are getting shorter and the air is getting colder. Smoke from the Rim Fire blew into the Mammoth area this past Friday, but that was short-lived, and the area is currently clear.

With the busy holiday weekend, the Mammoth Lakes Basin was crowded, although less so than previous years due to the closure of the Tioga Pass road. Busy crowds can be difficult to avoid on holiday weekends like Labor Day weekend, when every parking lot is full. However, to avoid the crowds, all you have to do is walk just a little further and keep your eyes open. There are a lot of trails that you can enjoy in the Lakes Basin, and on every trail there are always plenty of hiding spots for wildlife. 

A downed tree, a cluster of Willow or Mule’s Ears can all provide a great spot for many animals to lie down in and completely disappear. Now don’t go looking for the wildlife out there because you will never find them, but if a spotted fawn jumps out from behind a downed tree, don’t be startled and please do not approach the animals. Any action that leads these animals to become accustomed to people is detrimental to their quality of life and could lead to another unwanted fate. Instead, stand as quiet as you can and just observe the grace and beauty of the creature. The way a fawn looks around to see it is safe and the way they walk around is beautiful. It is not too often you can look the animal right in the eye and watch it calmly walk away.

There is a lot of beauty that can be seen with only a short walk in the Mammoth area. McLeod Lake is definitely the best bang for the buck in the Lakes Basin, with only a half-mile walk from the trailhead at Horseshoe Lake parking lot. If you can venture out a little bit further another beauty awaits, in Sky Meadows. Lying at the end of the maintained Emerald Lake trail, out of the Coldwater trailhead parking area, Sky Meadow is only a 2 mile walk one way and is one of the most rewarding hikes around, as a child visitor put it, “it was a 5!” ( out of 5).

While you are out enjoying your day on the trail please remember that bears are very active this time of the year. There was a recent break in by a bear interested in some trash in a vehicle at the Duck Pass trailhead. Every one should properly store all scented and/or food items outside of their vehicle in the bear lockers. Bear lockers in the Mammoth Lakes Basin are located at every campsite, as well as the Emerald Lake trailhead, and the Lake George parking lot. Please do not put any trash into the bear lockers, as they are meant for temporary food storage only. If there is no bear locker available, please ensure that your vehicle is free of food and scented items for the safety of your car and the bears, before departing onto the trail for a hike, even if it’s just for the day.

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 September 21st – Coastal Cleanup Day in the Lakes Basin. 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