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Mammoth Crest Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

7.4 mile 11.9 kilometer point to point
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,742' 836 m
Descent: -1,009' -308 m
High: 11,188' 3,410 m
Low: 9,031' 2,753 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 10% (6°)
Max Grade: 51% (27°)

Dogs

Unknown
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Map Key

Trail shared by Tilman Giese

Enjoy stunning views left and right up the Mammoth Crest mountain ridge.

Tilman Giese

Features Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Description

This trail leads you to the Mammoth Crest mountain ridge offering you stunning views in all directions. You can see Yosemite in the west and Mammoth Lakes in the east. And, you'll encounter a number of lakes along the way.

The trail starts at the Crystal Lake Trailhead, north of the parking area and steadily ascends through fir and pine forest. Once you get past the summer cabins on the left, the trail will zigzag up the northwest hillside of Lake George to offer occasional views of Crystal Crag and Lake George. After a mile, you'll reach the junction with Crystal Lake Trail. Make a sharp right turn to stay on this trail. The further up you go, the better the views will be. At a sandy switchback towards the south, you have a stunning view of the entire Mammoth Lakes basin, including Mammoth Mountain, Horseshoe Lake, Lake Mamie, and Twin Lakes. Trees are sparser beyond this point.

At two miles, you finally reach Mammoth Crest. The trail turns left, but continuing straight onto Mammoth Crest Alternate Spur is highly recommended to get spectacular views of Mount Ritter, Banner Peak, and the Minarets. Continue south over what looks like volcanic slag until the trail becomes sandy. Pass the sign for John Muir Wilderness and cross the desolate plateau while soaking in the views to the west and south.

You'll reach the highest point of the crest at roughly 4.5 miles. The trail will very steeply descend to Deer Lakes - three lakes surrounded by high mountain walls. This is a good place for a longer break. Continue along the middle lake and steadily ascend again. At this point, the trail becomes less defined, but is still recognizable most of the time. Once you reach the southeastern lake, do not continue further south, but stay on an easterly direction up a fairly rocky slope. Several maps show Mammoth Crest Trail heading further south and then up an extremely steep slope. That is not the trail.

At the top of the slope is another plateau covered in snow until late in the summer. Once you have crossed the plateau, another bowl opens up with Duck Lake and Pika Lake and their surrounding mountains. Descend towards the lake. The trail will become very hard to find very quickly. Head east and just cross the meadow. You may find small cairns that people have put up, but if you don't, then just continue until you reach the maintained Duck Pass Trail.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna

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Check-Ins

Aug 7, 2019
Johnson Wong
Jul 25, 2018
Chris Weiss
Did the first mile of this trail to get to the Crystal Lake Trail. Nice views of lakes below. 2mi — 1h 30m
Jul 1, 2018
Eileen Corley
Started off to Crystal Lake then added the Crest Trail on the way back. This is a spectacular hike! So many views and varied rocks and ecosystems. 7.5mi — 4h 30m
Sep 2, 2017
Tilman Giese

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 3 votes

#5433

Overall
  4.7 from 3 votes
5 Star
67%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#470

in California

#5,433

Overall
42 Views Last Month
3,481 Since Sep 3, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
33%
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67%
0%

Photos

Duck Lake and Pika Lake viewed from the top of Duck Pass.
Oct 17, 2018 near Mammoth…, CA
Deer Lakes from the eastern ridge of the surrounding mountains
Sep 16, 2017 near Mammoth…, CA
Lake George through the trees on Mammoth Crest Trail.
Sep 16, 2017 near Mammoth…, CA
Crystal Crag viewed from the Mammoth Crest Trail.
Oct 23, 2018 near Mammoth…, CA
Crystal Crag viewed from the Mammoth Crest Trail.
Oct 23, 2018 near Mammoth…, CA
Duck Lake
Sep 16, 2017 near Mammoth…, CA

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