Three Perfect Days Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes

Oct 20, 2020

Snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and frosted pine trees are a scenic backdrop for your mountain adventure, and snowshoeing is a fantastic way to see the sights in winter. Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes you’ll notice that the air is crisp and cold. The sun warms the trees just enough to give off that refreshing scent of pine. Exploring the mountains in winter is invigorating, and it’s even better on snowshoes.

If you are planning a three-day snowshoeing adventure in Mammoth Lakes you’ll want to be prepared with the right equipment and know the best spots to go. Before you head to Mammoth check this snowshoeing guide to make sure you have all the gear you’ll need.

There are plenty of groomed trails open for snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes. Your three perfect days of snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes offer a variety of terrain and a range of difficulties.

Day 1 – Snowshoeing Shady Rest Park

Since you’ve just arrived in town, your first day of snowshoeing in Mammoth lakes might as well be a relaxing adventure to get yourself warmed up. If you don’t own a pair of snowshoes, you can rent a pair at Mammoth Mountaineering Supply. The rental package includes snowshoes and poles, and cost $15 per day.

Get your pack ready and stuff it full of extra warm layers, water, and healthy snacks. Grab a quick egg and spinach or bacon breakfast burrito at Stellar Brew and head out to go snowshoeing. Shady Rest Park is a great spot for beginner or intermediate adventure seekers.

Head out from the Mammoth Welcome Center and take the Nordic Trail System on a short and easy loop. The park is close to town and the trails are over gently rolling terrain, so it’s a great spot to get acclimated. You’ll have the opportunity to check your equipment, make sure you have everything you need and know how to use it before longer days in the future. This area is open to multiple user groups, so you can expect to see snowmobiles, dog walkers, and cross country skiers too. Follow the cross-country ski signs and time your day to last as long or short as you like.

Once you’ve had enough snowshoeing for the day, head over to Black Velvet  to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or glass of wine

Day 2 – Snowshoeing Mammoth Lakes Basin

Since you took it easy on your first day of snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes, day two will be a little longer, more strenuous, and rewarding too. Be prepared for a change in weather and pack plenty of water and snacks. Fuel up for your day’s adventure with a fresh pressed organic juice and acai bowl at Food Cache Café and then hit the trail. You’ll be snowshoeing to Horseshoe Lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin along the Winter Access Corridor.

Start out on your snowshoes at the top of the Lake Mary Road winter closure. The left side of the road is open to public access and is the main route into the Mammoth Lakes Basin. (Please stay off the fee-based groomed cross-country ski trails.) As you start to gain elevation climbing up the road, you’ll see the views of Mammoth Mountain and the Crest to the west. Take your time, as you will notice the air gets thinner as you climb higher.

You’ll soon pass the Mammoth Pack Station and Lake Mary. There is a great viewpoint of the lake with benches and is an ideal spot to take a break. You’ll see Crystal Crag towering over the Lakes Basin in the distance. Continue on the same path to the end of the road at Horseshoe Lake. From here the views of Pyramid Peak and the Mammoth Crest are unobstructed. Enjoy a few minutes around the lake before turning around. You’ll return the same way, but notice the different vistas and views as you descend the road.

Stop in a Tamarack Lodge and the Lakefront Restaurant before driving back to town and warm up by the fire with a bowl of chili or a hot cider.

Day 3 – Snowshoeing Minaret Vista

Your third day of snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes will offer the most spectacular viewpoint, but you’ll have to work to get there. You’ll be starting at Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, but before you drive up the hill stop at Old New York Deli and Bakery for an early riser bagel sandwich. 

Head out from Main Lodge and continue up Minaret Road, which is covered in snow and passes under the chair lifts. Stay to the right to avoid the downhill skiers. Once you are past the resort, the winding mountain road climbs steadily through a pine forest. Stop and catch your breath as often as necessary. You’ll climb more than 400 vertical feet to get to the 9,200-foot overlook. At the top of the road, you’ll see the summer entrance station hut. Follow the road up to the right and climb a little further to get to the top of the Minaret Vista.

To the west you’ll see unobstructed views of the Minarets and Ritter Range. The San Joaquin River Valley is filled with pine trees and granite buttresses below. Find a picnic bench and have a snack while you enjoy the view. Return the same way., but before you drive back down the hill, stop in at the Yodler for a bite to eat and a celebratory beverage. 

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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