Photographer’s Tour of the Mammoth Half Marathon

Jul 20, 2021

The Mammoth Half Marathon might not be the fastest race you will ever run, but it very well could be the most beautiful. Since the race is at high altitude, you will likely feel like you are breathing through a straw. So why not forget the goal time and snap a few photos along the way?

With alpine lakes and mountain vistas, there are plenty of scenic overlooks along the net downhill course to help you forget the pain of running at 8,000 feet. Take a virtual tour of the course with our mile-by-mile photographer’s guide to the Mammoth Half Marathon.

NOTE: This year, the Mammoth Half Marathon is a run-on-your-own format. Once you register, you can run the course anytime throughout the race period and track your race.

Mile 1

The course starts a Horseshoe Lake at 8,955 feet in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. In less than a mile before you’re even warmed up, you’ll pass the Twin Falls Overlook. The steep cliffs on the east flank of Mammoth Mountain hover over Twin Lakes creating a dramatic backdrop. This is one of the most popular spots in the region for a photo. Be sure to look to your left as you run past.

Miles 2-3

After the first mile, the course loops around Lake Mary. It’s one of the more popular spots for lake fishing in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, so there will likely be fishing boats on the water, casting a line before the sun is shinning on the water. The area is nicely forested, but you’ll have views of Mammoth Mountain and Crystal Crag as you run around the lake.

Miles 4-5

After a few flat miles running around the Mammoth Lakes Basin, the route starts the big descent. Just as soon as you have a chance to catch your breath, the expansive views will nearly take it away again. As you pass the outlet of Twin Lakes, you’ll see the headwaters of Mammoth Creek cascading below and unobstructed views of the Glass and White Mountains across the valley below.

Miles 6-8

As you descend Lake Mary Road into town, you’ll turn right onto Minaret Road and run along the Sierra Star Golf Course for a stretch before climbing a gradual hill to Juniper Springs Resort where the course joins the Town Loop paved bike path for a few miles.

Miles 9-10

You’ll probably start to feel the miles and the altitude at this point in the race. After a few miles through forested roads and paths you are probably ready for some more inspiring panoramic landscape. As you pass Snowcreek Athletic Club, you’ll have unobstructed views of the Sherwin Range, Bloody Mountain, and Laurel Mountain to your right.

Miles 11-13

The course begins to descend, again, once you run past Mammoth Creek Park. Wildflowers are in bloom and line the path as the path gently rolls downhill. Across the valley you will see the White Mountains. Use this downhill to rest up for the final climb. You are almost there, so it’s time to give the final miles everything you have to the finish line celebration on Old Mammoth Road.

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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