Crater Meadows Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,264' 385 m
Descent: -1,264' -385 m
High: 9,335' 2,845 m
Low: 8,640' 2,633 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 37% (20°)
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“A treed hike with some great vistas and good early season water sources. Hill climbing is spread out.”— J Hickok
This uncrowded trail is still well maintained and well marked. While more dry in late season, you pass Deer Creek midway, and the creek through Lower Crater Meadows should always be running. Other streams are intermittent. Hill climbing is usually more gentle and spread out through the whole hike, although there are a couple steeper short climbs. It is somewhat dusty.
There are good views of the Minarets and Banner/Ritter, plus Mammoth Mountain. A short side trip to the top of Red Cone adds about a 1/2 mile, depending on how you do it. There are some beautiful meadows midway.
You'll be in the National Forest for almost the entire length of the hike, as well as in the John Muir Wilderness Area.
Continue on this Mammoth Pass Cutoff Trail to the junction of this trail with the PCT at Deer Creek. Turn right and descend the PCT to Lower Crater Meadows right below the Red Cones. Immediately after crossing the Deer Creek bridge on the PCT, turn right on the smaller trail and hike up the north side of the meadows. Avoid any faint spurs.
Continue up the switchbacks, staying right at the junction opportunity to cutoff towards Reds Meadows. Follow this trail back to the original junction on the Mammoth Pass Cutoff Trail, and hike back over Mammoth Pass to McCloud Lake and then head back to the Horseshoe Lake parking lot.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, History & Background
Land Manager: USFS - Inyo National Forest Office