Top Spots for Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes

One of the best ways to explore the great outdoors in the winter is to go snowshoeing. From frozen lakes to snow-capped mountain streams and frosted pine trees there are plenty of serene environments to inspire an outdoor winter adventure. There are plenty of groomed trails open to multi-use from the end of Lake Mary Road, Shady Rest, and the Mammoth Scenic Loop. If you are adventurous and have avalanche education and awareness, you can head off trail just about anywhere you like and explore the snow-covered woods and meadows that surround Mammoth Lakes. Or stick to the groomed trails and follow one of our favorite snowshoeing routes.

Main Lodge to Minaret Vista

From Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge, follow the summer road up to the Minaret Vista. You will start at the Gondola building and head past Discovery Chair – 11. The road climbs up a groomed trail shared with snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. The ascent is well worth the trek as the road passes through a dense Lodgepole and Jeffery pine forest that eventually opens up for an expansive view of the Minarets and Ritter range. Return to the trailhead the same way.

Trail length: 2.5 miles (5 miles round trip)
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Duration: 3-4 hours

Twin Lakes to Horseshoe Lake

A trek along the Lakes Basin Winter Public Access Corridor is the main route for travel into the Mammoth Lakes Basin in winter. From the top of Lake Mary Road winter closure parking area, the public access trail runs along the left side of the Tamarack fee-based nordic track all the way to Horseshoe Lake. (Please stay off the right side of the road.) After an uphill climb, you will reach the shore of Lake Mary in the first mile or so. It is a great rest spot or turn around point for a shorter day. From here the views of Crystal Crag and the Mammoth Crest are fantastic. Continue along the route, which is mostly flat from here, past Lake Mamie to Horseshoe Lake. Return the same route.

Trail length: 2.5 miles (5 miles round trip)
Difficulty: moderate to difficult
Duration: 3-4 hours

Panorama Dome

This short and easy snowshoeing route is not short on scenery. From the top of Lake Mary Road winter closure parking area, walk along the groomed public access corridor on the left side to the Panorama Dome trailhead. The road and trailhead are clearly marked. From here you can find your own way, or follow another’s path through the forest to the summit. Views from the Panorama Dome look east to the White Mountains, Glass Mountains and Sherwin Range. Descend the way you came to return to the trailhead.

Trail length: 0.8 miles (1.6 miles round trip)
Difficulty: easy
Duration: 1-2 hours

Inyo Craters

Inyo Craters is not only a scenic snowshoeing destination but also a great place to learn about the volcanic history of the area. From the Inyo Craters winter parking area on the Mammoth Scenic Loop, follow signs and orange diamonds to the trailhead. The multi-use trail is groomed and also frequented by snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. For a view into the craters, take the short trail that climbs up to the rim. Return to the trailhead the same way you came.

Trail length: 3.1 miles (6.2 miles round trip)
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Duration: 3-4 hours

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 monicaprelle.com and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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