Hiking to Crystal Lake & the Base of Crystal Crag in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth is full of amazing places to hike, but if you are looking for a short hike with a fantastic payoff then look no further than Crystal Lake. This hike is three short miles round trip with a decent amount of uphill, but it takes you to an epic crag that overlooks multiple lakes and has its own lake right at the base. Here is all the information so you can take this hike yourself.

crystal-lake-11

Details

  • 3 miles
  • 800 feet of elevation
  • Location: Lake George Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, you will want to proceed out of the city of Mammoth on Lake Mary Road and up to Lake George. The parking lot here is where the hike will start.

The Trail

crystal-lake-1

After arriving at the small parking lot near Lake Gregory, you will see a trailhead right near where you came into the parking area. The trailhead says Crystal Crag, and this is what you will be taking to the lake.

crystal-lake-3

The trail is shaded most of the way, which is good because it immediately heads up. Since it is only 1.5 miles each way, you will be hiking up basically the entire time.

crystal-lake-2

Once you get to the top of the first hill, right past the cabins, you will get your first view of Crystal Crag from the trail.

crystal-lake-4

This rock goes in and out of view over the time you are hiking, and it is a pretty amazing beacon that leads you on to your destination.

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The trail then starts heading into switchbacks as it climbs over dirt, fallen trees, and rock-hewn steps.

crystal-lake-7

As you gain more elevation, you will be greeted with views down into the canyon behind you, which has four lakes you can see stretching into the distance.

crystal-lake-8

Continuing up the switchbacks, you will reach a split in the trail where you will follow the sign that leads you to the lake.

crystal-lake-9

This trail almost immediately crests the hill, and you start heading down towards the lake.

crystal-lake-10

From here you have great views of the crag, and if you come at the right time, it can be awesome to see the way it reflects on the water.

crystal-lake-12

There is a trail that takes you along the right side of the lake, and we walked on it for 10 minutes or so, but I am not sure how far it goes. The lake itself is amazing, and the views here are spectacular, especially with the crag looming behind it.

crystal-lake-13

I was in a time crunch, so I only stayed for 20 minutes around the lake, but I got some amazing shots with the warm sunset light. When you walk down the hill walk down to Lake Gregory as well as it is fun to photograph the crag you just hiked to from far away as well.

crystal-lake-14

On the way out we happened to drive by Lake Mary and the sun was creating an amazing reflection so we grabbed a few photos.

crystal-lake-15

If you are visiting Mammoth, then this is a great hike to get your blood flowing without having to use a lot of time. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Hiking to Crystal Lake & the Base of Crystal Crag in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth is full of amazing places to hike, but if you are looking for a short hike with a fantastic payoff then look no further than Crystal Lake. This hike is three short miles round trip with a decent amount of uphill, but it takes you to an epic crag that overlooks multiple lakes and has its own lake right at the base. Here is all the information so you can take this hike yourself.

crystal-lake-11

Details

  • 3 miles
  • 800 feet of elevation
  • Location: Lake George Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Getting There

To get to the trailhead, you will want to proceed out of the city of Mammoth on Lake Mary Road and up to Lake George. The parking lot here is where the hike will start.

The Trail

crystal-lake-1

After arriving at the small parking lot near Lake Gregory, you will see a trailhead right near where you came into the parking area. The trailhead says Crystal Crag, and this is what you will be taking to the lake.

crystal-lake-3

The trail is shaded most of the way, which is good because it immediately heads up. Since it is only 1.5 miles each way, you will be hiking up basically the entire time.

crystal-lake-2

Once you get to the top of the first hill, right past the cabins, you will get your first view of Crystal Crag from the trail.

crystal-lake-4

This rock goes in and out of view over the time you are hiking, and it is a pretty amazing beacon that leads you on to your destination.

crystal-lake-6

The trail then starts heading into switchbacks as it climbs over dirt, fallen trees, and rock-hewn steps.

crystal-lake-7

As you gain more elevation, you will be greeted with views down into the canyon behind you, which has four lakes you can see stretching into the distance.

crystal-lake-8

Continuing up the switchbacks, you will reach a split in the trail where you will follow the sign that leads you to the lake.

crystal-lake-9

This trail almost immediately crests the hill, and you start heading down towards the lake.

crystal-lake-10

From here you have great views of the crag, and if you come at the right time, it can be awesome to see the way it reflects on the water.

crystal-lake-12

There is a trail that takes you along the right side of the lake, and we walked on it for 10 minutes or so, but I am not sure how far it goes. The lake itself is amazing, and the views here are spectacular, especially with the crag looming behind it.

crystal-lake-13

I was in a time crunch, so I only stayed for 20 minutes around the lake, but I got some amazing shots with the warm sunset light. When you walk down the hill walk down to Lake Gregory as well as it is fun to photograph the crag you just hiked to from far away as well.

crystal-lake-14

On the way out we happened to drive by Lake Mary and the sun was creating an amazing reflection so we grabbed a few photos.

crystal-lake-15

If you are visiting Mammoth, then this is a great hike to get your blood flowing without having to use a lot of time. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Soda Springs & Parsons Memorial Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows

When visiting the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park, there are two quick and easy attractions that most people choose to see, Soda Springs and Parson’s Memorial Lodge. These two spots are pieces of history in Yosemite and make for a great little hike in the area.

soda-springs-6

Details

  • 1.5 miles round trip
  • Flat
  • Location: Leaves from Visitor Center or Lembert Dome parking area

Getting There

After driving into Yosemite National Park’s east entrance (Tioga Pass) you will want to make your way to either the visitors center or the Lembert Dome parking area. This particular post is from the Lembert Dome area, but there is a nice easy trail from the visitors center as well.

History of Soda Springs

These puddles of carbonated water bubble up from underground, and while some of them are outside of the cabin, most are located directly inside. This is because John Baptist Lembert, the first settler here, decided to build a cabin right above it. It is believed that this area was a springhouse for him and not an actual residence though.

The Trail

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From the parking lot for Lembert Dome, you will want to continue down the road to the trail sign for Glen Aulin and Soda Springs.

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From here the trail meanders through a meadow with epic views of Lembert Dome behind you. Keep your eyes peeled in the meadow as I saw two deer there when I went.

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The trail continues over a small hill and into a shaded forest before you see the cabin in the distance.

Soda Springs

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As you reach the cabin, you will walk over a series of rocks that cross the red water stream to the cabin.

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The cabin has no door and no roof, but you can peek your head into it and watch the water bubbling.

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After taking some pictures, head over to Parson’s Memorial Lodge which is only 100 feet from Soda Springs.

Parson’s Memorial Lodge

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The lodge, built in 1915 by the Sierra Club, is a functioning little museum now. The building itself was one of the first in the park built of stone, and the wood is taken from trees local to the area.

parsons-memorial-lodge-2

It is a lot of fun to go inside and see the exhibits they have set up which talk about the area’s unique history.

parsons-memorial-lodge-3

They also have a fireplace with chairs set up in the back, which looks like somewhere you would love spending a cold winter night.

parsons-memorial-lodge-4

The lodge was made a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

parsons-memorial-lodge-1

There is not much more to explore here, but you can walk around the outside and see a few of the other buildings as well.

After finishing the hike, head back the way you came. If you have some more time in the area, consider hiking up Lembert Dome as well, which is a short but tough hike in this area of the park. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Soda Springs & Parsons Memorial Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows

When visiting the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park, there are two quick and easy attractions that most people choose to see, Soda Springs and Parson’s Memorial Lodge. These two spots are pieces of history in Yosemite and make for a great little hike in the area.

soda-springs-6

Details

  • 1.5 miles round trip
  • Flat
  • Location: Leaves from Visitor Center or Lembert Dome parking area

Getting There

After driving into Yosemite National Park’s east entrance (Tioga Pass) you will want to make your way to either the visitors center or the Lembert Dome parking area. This particular post is from the Lembert Dome area, but there is a nice easy trail from the visitors center as well.

History of Soda Springs

These puddles of carbonated water bubble up from underground, and while some of them are outside of the cabin, most are located directly inside. This is because John Baptist Lembert, the first settler here, decided to build a cabin right above it. It is believed that this area was a springhouse for him and not an actual residence though.

The Trail

soda-springs-1

From the parking lot for Lembert Dome, you will want to continue down the road to the trail sign for Glen Aulin and Soda Springs.

backpacking-glen-aulin-2

From here the trail meanders through a meadow with epic views of Lembert Dome behind you. Keep your eyes peeled in the meadow as I saw two deer there when I went.

backpacking-glen-aulin-4

The trail continues over a small hill and into a shaded forest before you see the cabin in the distance.

Soda Springs

soda-springs-3

As you reach the cabin, you will walk over a series of rocks that cross the red water stream to the cabin.

soda-springs-5

The cabin has no door and no roof, but you can peek your head into it and watch the water bubbling.

soda-springs-4

After taking some pictures, head over to Parson’s Memorial Lodge which is only 100 feet from Soda Springs.

Parson’s Memorial Lodge

parsons-memorial-lodge-5

The lodge, built in 1915 by the Sierra Club, is a functioning little museum now. The building itself was one of the first in the park built of stone, and the wood is taken from trees local to the area.

parsons-memorial-lodge-2

It is a lot of fun to go inside and see the exhibits they have set up which talk about the area’s unique history.

parsons-memorial-lodge-3

They also have a fireplace with chairs set up in the back, which looks like somewhere you would love spending a cold winter night.

parsons-memorial-lodge-4

The lodge was made a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

parsons-memorial-lodge-1

There is not much more to explore here, but you can walk around the outside and see a few of the other buildings as well.

After finishing the hike, head back the way you came. If you have some more time in the area, consider hiking up Lembert Dome as well, which is a short but tough hike in this area of the park. Let me know what you think in the comments.

An American Ascent

An American Ascent

Most of us don’t think much about diversity on the trail. In Southern California, it’s pretty common to see people of all colors sharing the trail. When you get into the backcountry however, people of color are are few and far between.

Why does diversity in our wilderness matter?

In a few decades, people of color will outnumber the white majority for the first time ever. To ensure continuing support and protection for our wilderness, we need people of all colors to see that these places are worth protecting and preserving for future generations.

That’s one of the reasons we support Big City Mountaineers through the annual Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. And it’s also one of the reasons AN AMERICAN ASCENT was made.

AN AMERICAN ASCENT is a feature documentary about the first African American expedition to tackle North America’s highest peak, Denali, on the 100th anniversary of the first climb. 

From the official website:

In only a few decades the United States will become a majority-minority nation, as people of color will outnumber the white majority for the first time ever. Yet, a staggering number of these people do not consider the outdoors as a place for them. In June 2013, nine African Americans set out to build a legacy and become role models for inner city kids and people of color all over America to encourage them to get outside. They did so by taking on the grueling, 20,237 foot peak of the continent’s biggest mountain.

You can watch the trailer below, and rent or purchase the full documentary to stream or download from Vimeo.

For more information about this beautiful documentary, visit anamericanascent.com.

I hope their story will inspire others to learn that wilderness is worth discovering first hand.

Please share and help spread the word! 

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