Crystal Lake, Mammoth, CA

View of Lake George from the Crystal Lake trail

It's been a few days since my last post.  That's because the group took a trip to Mammoth Lakes this past weekend.  It was such a WONDERFUL experience! If this blog wasn't a labor of love, I'd fire myself for running off-schedule!

I had reserved 2 campsites at the campground, 6 people max per campground. In all, we had 8 people attend the group camp. We had about 12 dogs, all VERY well behaved, with extremely conscientious dog owners. We stayed at the Twin Lakes Campground, right on the banks of twin lakes - though there are many lakes in the Mammoth area.  Because we were only staying 3 days, we chose one hike per day.

On Saturday, September 9, we hiked to Crystal Lake.  It took us a while to find the trailhead, because we actually missed the road that we were supposed to turn off on. The parking lot was completely full. We had been milling around the campground, talking, laughing, enjoying the dogs and each other company, that we didn't actually start towards the trailhead until well after 10am.  Luckily the trail was only 5 miles max.

DIRECTIONS from Twin Lakes Campground:
We stayed at the Twin Lakes Campground.  The trailhead is located at Lake George, near the Lake Mary Campground. From where we were, you would go back to the main road and turn right.  Drive about 2 miles.  You will see a road on the left hand side with a sign that says: "Lake Mary Campground". Take this street. From what I remember, it doesn't even say that Lake George lies at the end of the road.

The beginning of the trail is uphill (but isn't it always?). Somehow, though, at altitude, we were at about 8900ft above sea level, it seemed harder.  Seriously folks, the grade on this one, isn't as bad as some uphills.  It's a little less steep than Devil's Slide in Idyllwild, if anyone has ever been there.  There was also ALOT of shade.  We also took MANY of water breaks, so maybe that's why this uphill was manageable, for us and for the dogs.

Follow the trail uphill, in the shade. You have to go up and over this ridge to get to the next little valley where Crystal Lake sits.  As you crest the ridge, you may feel a little relief to see that the trail goes down for about 1/8 of a mile, until you get to Crystal Lake. I recall thinking that I had to hike back up this ridge, and was dreading it.  That is, until after I realized we were not going that far.  After about going almost 2.5 miles of uphill, the dogs were so happy to see water, and ran at the chance of flopping around and drinking up some mountain water.

Two of us hike to the opposite side of the shore, where there was more "sandy beach" (which actually turned out to be ground pumice). But the good thing was there was less drift wood in the way, so the dogs could enjoy the water.  Being a mountain lake, the water was frigid.  I could tell that although the sun was pretty intense, my dogs were shivering.  Of course, they barely have any fur to begin with.

Our hike back to the trailhead was extremely pleasant, with all the hard work done at the beginning of the hike.  Most hikes that we do are at least 2000 ft less than this trailhead.  We were rewarded with the most amazing views from the ridge.

Crystal Lake as we approached from the trail