Crystal Lake Hike

Crystal Crag from Crystal Lake | Mammoth Lakes Basin, CaliforniaCrystal Lake lies just beneath the Mammoth Crest and Crystal Crag in the Mammoth Lakes Basin at 9600 feet.

This awesome high mountain lake trail is a great place for a 3-4 hour session of Hiking & Exploring, add in Lunch and Fishing and you can make this a day trip.

The best part about Crystal Lake is it’s well away from the main Mammoth Lakes Basin Traffic and Summer crowds.

This hike takes about 30 – 60 minuets to reach Crystal Lake.   You should consider this trail to be moderate in difficulty.  You will be gaining about 900 vertical in rise over a 1.75 mile hike in.

This hike feels longer and steeper because of the very high elevation peaking just before you reach the lake at 9,607 feet.  There are lot’s of vista point’s to stop at and rest while on your way up.

The view from some of those vista points stunning to say the least.  The photo below is looking down on Lake George, Lake Mary and the Sherwin range.

Crystal Lake Hike View Point Mammoth Lakes Basin

This moderate hike starts from the Lake George parking lot in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.  Take Lake Mary road to Pokenobe Lodge and turn left.  At the next junction just after the bridge turn right and your about 1/2 mile from the parking area.

Crystal Lake Trail Sign | Mammoth Lakes Basin, California

Crystal Lake Trail Sign | Mammoth Lakes Basin, California

As you come up to the parking area you will see this.  The trail head is on your right of this sign and is well marked.

This hiking trail is well maintained, however there are a couple sections that lead you off the main trail and can be confusing at first.

Just stay on the main tracked path and you will have no problems getting to the Lake.

The trail starts as a series of quick switch backs until your reach the half way point and then its more of long straights then more switch backs.  There are lot’s of view points to stop and rest as you make you way up.

Trail Sign Crystal LakeNear the top of the hike You will pass a sign and junction that leads to the summit of the Mammoth Crest, stay to the left hand side so your still on the Crystal Lake hiking trail.

Eventually the trail tops out on a plateau and then drops back down a couple hundred feet to the lakes shore line.

On the left side of the lake you will see Crystal Crag, it tops out at a elevation of 10,403 feet.

Crystal Lake First View from Trail

Here are some Facts:

Fishing:  This lake has been well stocked in the past, so there are fish here to catch. Please practice catch and release at Crystal Lake, stocking is rare these days and we would like to keep fish in the lake. Fly fishing will get you the best results in this lakes environment.

Crystal Lake’s has a few Beaches and they are located on the left side of the lake.  The right side has a with a mix of rocky and forested shoreline.  The right side of the lake also provides a couple great spots to kick back, eat, explore and fish.

The Trail Around the lake is for adventure seekers only.  The trail does go all the way to the back on a good path via the left side of the lake.  The right side trail quickly gets steep and bolduring is necessary, fun if your into this type of adventure.

Please pack in your own food and water for the day.  We do not recommended you drink water out of the lakes or creeks in the area with out a filter.  Hot Tip: make sure you check the mammoth lakes basin weather forecast before heading out. During thunderstorm cycle’s make sure to bring a rain jacket.

Crystal Lake Hike Photo Shots:  45 Photo Shots of the Crystal Lake Hike can be found here.

USFS Link to Crystal Lake

Marina Links


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