Winter’s version of hiking is easy and enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities. If you’ve never snowshoed atop a fresh blanket of snow, you should definitely add this winter actitvity to your list for your next trip to Mammoth Lakes.
Rent snowshoes from a local shop in town or Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.
Snowshoeing to Minaret Vista
Snowshoe to see Mammoth Lakes’ signature skyline, the Minarets, from Minaret Vista. The gentle and gradual uphill slope of this route is perfect for beginners or families with older children.
Remember to dress in layers and keep in mind that it can be considerably cooler and windier at this elevation than in town. The high altitude of the trail allows for an extended season that can easily run from mid-November until late April or even a bit later depending on snow conditions.
The trail begins at Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge, an elevation of 8,909 feet, and climbs up to 9,265 feet over 2.5 miles. At Main Lodge, you’ll have access to services, including food and restrooms, before you start your trip to Minaret Vista.
Be on the lookout for snowmobiles, cross country skiers and downhill skiers, since the trail is used for multiple sports. Follow signs for Minaret Vista as the trail branches away from the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.
Ride the free Red Line bus to Main Lodge or drive up Highway 203 to the ski area’s large parking area. Use the Main Lodge parking shuttle or simply walk toward the Mammoth Mountain Inn and past the Mammoth Mountain Chalets, where you’ll see the trail.
Snowshoeing in the Mammoth Lakes Basin
Mammoth Lakes Basin is a great place to explore without an itinerary. You’ll discover several bridges, hidden amphitheaters, frozen lakes and endless terrain. No matter what you choose, you’ll find peaceful forested groves and breathtaking mountain vistas everywhere in the Lakes Basin.
While many of the trails in the Lakes Basin are groomed for cross country skiing (accessible with a pass from Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center), the Lake Mary Winter Public Access Corridor
is free to the public for snowshoeing.
Just off the main trail, the Panorama Dome Loop is another great option for snowshoers looking for stunning views of the Mammoth Crest, Sherwin Range, White Mountains, Glass Mountains, Mammoth Mountain and the Town of Mammoth Lakes below.
The 2.5-mile Lakes Mary Winter Public Access Corridor winds uphill until you reach Lake Mary, where it levels out for the rest of the trip to Horseshoe Lake. Follow the trail up into the Lakes Basin or take the loop trail to Panorama Dome for a more challenging uphill climb but a shorter trail.
Snowshoers are also permitted to explore off trail. Use caution when snowshoeing near frozen or semi-frozen lakes as California sun typically warms the ice to the point that it is unsafe to walk on at times.
Take the free Orange Line bus to Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center or drive along Lake Mary Road to Twin Lakes Road, where you can parallel park. Then walk along Lake Mary Road to the winter road closure. The public trail runs alongside a groomed trail that requires a pass, while Panorama Dome Loop
veers off to the left.
Snowshoeing at Shady Rest Park
Shady Rest Park offers beautiful, convenient, free snowshoeing trails right in the heart of Mammoth Lakes. Because these trails are in town and at a lower elevations, the season for snowshoeing at Shady Rest Park is dependent on snowfall and typically shorter than higher elevation areas.
Snowshoers share the mostly-flat trails at Shady Rest Park with cross country skiers in the areas designated for non-motorized use. If you venture onto snowmobile trails, be cautious of over snow vehicle (OSV) traffic.
To access the trailhead, ride the free purple line shuttle or park at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center and walk along the path past the buildings toward Sawmill Cutoff Road.
Where to Rent Snowshoes in Mammoth Lakes
If you need equipment for your snowshoeing adventure, you can rent snowshoes from these local retailers: