My wife and I will be on a weekend trip in Mammoth late January. Any suggestions for snowshoe trails in the area? I know the Mineret overlook is very popular, but I've heard it can be very crowded with snowmobiles. I was also looking at Parker Lake or Rock Creek. thanks.
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Rock Creek info:
Hopefully, there will be enough snow by January. The Rock Creek Canyon road will be closed at East Fork campground, but there is parking available at that location. (Probably "Snow Park" regulations.) From East Fork you have two options: 1) go straight up the road or, 2) go left into the campground and then through the trees (hard to follow). Road is easiest, but there is more avalanche hazard immediately after or during storms.
The road will take you all the way past Rock Creek Lake to the Mosquito Flat summer trailhead; from there continue up the right side of the creek into Little Lakes Valley.
Rock Creek winter lodge will probably be open; about 2 miles uphill from the East Fork parking area. The Pie in the Sky Cafe will most likely not be open - darn. But good food and local atmosphere at the Tom's Place Resort cafe and bar, near the intersection of 395 and Rock Creek road.
Rock Creek isn't nearly as busy and crowded as the areas closer to Mammoth and more scenic. Great views toward the crest of the Sierras. Little Lakes Valley is my favorite canyon in the Eastern Sierra.
Wherever you decide to snow-shoe, remember not to walk on tracks that have been set for xc-skiing. Have fun!
I concur with Bob West, the Rock Creek area is extremely scenic. Its about 5+ miles from the SnoPark up a mild grade to the Little Lakes Valley, but the view would be worth the effort. Rock Creek Lake makes a good intermediate turnaround at about 3 miles if you're breaking fresh trail or running out of daylight, or just plain tired.
Just snowshoeing around the Mammoth Lakes can be a nice outing. They keep the road plowed to the Tamarack XC ski lodge. Parking on the road is limited and from there you can follow unplowed roads to the various lakes.
The Mammoth Lakes Basin was hit with strong winds recently and there are 300-400 downed trees or trees ready to fall. The area is restricted at this time and might still be dangerous in places in late January.
Other suggestions for snowshoeing in the area, besides those mentioned above, are Lundy Canyon near Mono Lake, about 4 miles to the lakes, mostly on the access road. Also the Viginia Lakes, about 5-6 miles on the road to the lakes at higher elevation about 9,000ft with wind exposure but nice views along the way.
We'll be in Mammoth for Christmas. I expect to do a snowshoe hike one of the days, assuming we get some snow by then. I'll report back if I have any new info or suggestions.
I called Rock Creek Lodge today to reserve a cabin and they reported there was very little snow for my snowshoe trip. They are not at full operation. I've been very busy this fall and have not been paying attention to snow reports. Apparently it has been pretty dry on the east side of the Sierras. Snow park is closed and she guessed it was possible for people to drive all the way to Mesquito Flat trailhead.
I may change my trip to day hikes in the area. After looking at some of the pictures posted, it seems there is quite a bit of ice on most of the trails. Are most of the trails in the similar condition (little snow and accessible)?
I'd say most trails have little snow and are accessible. I heard that this past week's snow survey measured 19% of normal snow cover for this date.
This winter is becoming the driest on record -- sure hope it does not continue. But in the meantime, there are some unusual winter hiking opportunities. In fact, check out the two most recent threads in the Trip Reports forum. They are pretty indicative of all the Sierra trails at this point in time.
I called Rock Creek Lodge today ... Snow park is closed and she guessed it was possible for people to drive all the way to Mesquito Flat trailhead. ... Are most of the trails in the similar condition (little snow and accessible)?
The snow park is little used, but not "closed". I slept there at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a little dry on the east side of the Sierra. On Christmas day I hiked White Mountain. The summit was reached by 3 women, 3 men and 2 dogs that day.
Which gate, the one before Schulman Grove, at about 10k, or the one a mile from the Barcroft Research facility?
The Barcroft gate is the limit now. At Thanksgiving the gate just -after- Schulman Grove was closed because the higher roads were snow covered. Above Barcroft, the snow was only in the ruts of the road on Christmas.
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Hiked up from Main Lodge to Pt. 10,240 along the San Joaquin Ridge yesterday afternoon:
The road up from Main Lodge was only one lane of snow all the way to Minaret Vista. They've groomed the lane from the road cutoff to the Ranger Station for cross-country skiing (one track and space for skate skiing). I wore my microspikes to avoid slipping on any black ice, but really if you were there mid-day you shouldn't have a problem in any footwear with traction (I had on NB trail runners).
There is a small bit of snow when you come over the actual Vista and drop onto the road that runs up the ridge, which I used for my first "Postholing on Purpose" part of the workout, mostly light sugar with a small crust on top. Only about calf deep on me (I'm 5'11"). The rest of the way up it was intermittent snow/ice/mud/sand but no need for snowshoes.
Incredible sunset/full moon rise on my way down, the glow silhouetting the Whites and then peeking over White Mountain and reflecting in Crowley Lake.
Thanks for the information. See what happens in the next two weeks. It would actually be unique to on a regular trail in the middle of winter. We are staying in Bishop that weekend, so probably won't make my final hike plans until we get there because there is no rush to get a permit for any of the hikes.