Sightseeing at the Mammoth Consolidated Mine

Oct 15, 2020

Scenically nestled into the mountainside near the headwaters of Mammoth Creek, the former Mammoth Consolidated mining camp provides visitors a rare glimpse of the region’s past. Preserved in a state of “arrested decay” by the U.S. Forest Service, this relic of a past industrial resource-based community is a literal ghost town. Weathered, timeworn clapboard and log cabins stand in the protected shade of majestic lodgepole pines towering overhead. Perched on the flanks of the surrounding mountains, the rusting hulks of ancient mining equipment sit idle in their original locations as if waiting to be brought to life once again.

While exploring the ruins, it’s difficult to imagine that during the Depression Era of the late 1920s to early 1930s, up to fourteen men were employed at this site. They lived in bunkhouses similar to the one still standing and earned a day’s wage equivalent to $75 today. The site had no electricity, and the miners had little contact with civilization due to the remote location. The town of Mammoth Lakes was still in its infancy at the time, offering little more than camping and lodging basics for adventurous tourists.

The Mammoth Consolidated Mine ruins are located within the breathtakingly beautiful Mammoth Lakes Basin. At the site, a trail crosses a winding stream and quickly passes through the standing remains of several bunkhouses and the mine owner’s log cabin. Walking the 0.4-mile loop clockwise, hikers will come upon the location of the diesel-powered mill. Although the mill’s building was destroyed in an avalanche long ago, the massive 110-horsepower single cylinder cast iron engine remains bolted in its original position. Nearby, visitors are able to peer into the workings of the grated lower tunnel, or adit. Expect a blast of cold air, as natural ventilation draws outside air into the upper adit and cools it before it exits through the lower tunnel. Farther along the path, the rusty remains of the mine’s mighty air and water compressors stand on a concrete pad overlooking Lake Mary.

With easy access and flat, well-graded pathways lined with informative signs, the ghost town is a destination suitable for all family members. To get to the ruins of the mining camp, follow Lake Mary Road to the Around Lake Mary Road on the left, just after the pack station above Twin Lakes. Turn into the Coldwater Creek Campground and head uphill to the day use parking lot at the upper end of the campground. The Pine City trailhead and information kiosk are located near the northeast corner of the upper lot. Free public transportation is available via the Orange Line from the Village at Mammoth. Take this bus to stop number 100 (Lake Mary Marina/Coldwater Creek Campground) and then walk uphill through the campground for 0.2 miles to the Pine City/Duck Pass Trail parking lot.

Before visiting the remains of the Mammoth Consolidated mining camp, stop by the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center to pick up a self-guided tour pamphlet. At the upper Coldwater Creek Campground parking area, you’ll find restrooms and picnic tables. Water is also available in the campground.