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Family Friendly Adventures in the Eastern Sierra

Summer is the main reason why I purposely chose to call Mammoth Lakes my home! Wildflowers, long warm summer days, swimming in alpine lakes, big trail miles, paddle boarding, and backpacking… with my dogs in tow; make my heart burst with happiness.

By: Kristen Fuller + Save to a List

It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside."

-Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy-Tacy, and Tib

If you know anything about me, you must know that I LOVE summer in the mountains. Summer is the main reason why I purposely chose to call Mammoth Lakes my home! Wildflowers, long warm summer days, swimming in alpine lakes, big trail miles, paddle boarding, and backpacking… with my dogs in tow; make my heart burst with happiness.

Of course, summer also means mosquitos, tourists, and wildfires and as a result, we must do our best to educate everyone on how to recreate responsibly in the outdoors.

Pick up your trash, bury your poop at least 6 inches in the ground, pack out your dog’s poop, do not have an illegal campfire (in fact, just stop having campfires altogether), learn proper trail etiquette, and don’t feed or harass the wildlife.

Speaking of wildfires, I will soon be writing about my JMT journey last summer and having to evacuate the trail because of the Creek Fire. I strongly believe all campfires should be outlawed!

Okay, my rant is over…now onto the fun part!

This start of this summer has looked a little bit different for me as I am currently fostering a mom and a litter of gorgeous puppies while simultaneously raising a new puppy of my own. Since my puppy Taquito is still not fully vaccinated, my trail miles consist of carrying him in a pack while hiking with Moo. My time outside is even more precious than before as I spend hours a day taking care of mom dog and her puppies. However, in mid-July after the mom dog and pups get adopted into their fur-ever homes, I will be more than ready to put in big trail miles with my dogs in tow.

I cannot wait to share my experience about training a brand new trail puppy…blog pot coming in the next few months that will break everything down!

The Eastern Sierra is magic in the summer and I am excited to share with you, all of my favorite activities and places!

For some great history about the Eastern Sierra, I highly recommend reading Kendra Atleework’s new book titled “Miracle Country”. You can purchase it at Booky Joint in Mammoth Lakes.

For a great documentary about the controversial struggle between LA and the Owens Valley about water rights, I highly recommend the documentary titled “The Longest Straw”

My favorite hiking trails in the Eastern Sierra

I am a huge advocate for sharing my knowledge and experience with others while simultaneously inspiring others to research and plan for their own adventures appropriately. As a result, I have chosen not to share a bunch of information about the locations I have included in this blog post, however, I will happily provide my own tools and resources I use to research and plan my adventures!

Easy day hikes (less than 5 miles round trip with limited elevation ~700 feet)

These hikes are very family-friendly, dog friendly, and have amazing views and gorgeous lakes!

  • Heart Lake (Coldwater Campground)
  • Barrett and TJ Lake (Lake George Campground)
  • Crystal Lake (Lake George Campground)
  • McLeod Lake (Horseshoe Lake parking lot)

Moderate day hikes (less than 10 miles round trip with moderate elevation gain ~2500 feet)

  • Duck Lake (can increase mileage and elevation looping to Crystal Lake via Deer Lakes)
  • Big Pine Lakes (first and second)
  • Twenty Lakes Basin via Saddlebag Lake: I included a blog post here
  • Mono Pass or Morgan Pass via Mosquito Flats (can increase mileage and elevation and go into Pioneer Basin)
  • Summit Pass via Virginia Lake

Difficult day hikes (approximately 20 miles round trip with over 3,000 elevation gain)

  • Kearsarge Pass
  • Shepherd Pass
  • McGee Pass
  • Mono Pass via Walker Lake

The moderate and difficult hikes all make for a great multi-day backpacking trip as you can easily add miles, peaks, and more passes!

My favorite lakes to paddle in the Eastern Sierra

  • Convict Lake
  • Lake Mary
  • Lake Mamie
  • Ellery Lake
  • Twin Lakes (Bridgeport)
  • Tioga lake
  • Tenaya Lake (Tuolumne)
  • Saddlebag Lake

For more detailed info on paddling lakes in the Eastern Sierra, I have included a previous blog post here

My favorite trails for biking in the Eastern Sierra

Mammoth is a very bike-friendly town. There are plenty of bike paths, meaning if you are on a bike, you must legally ride in the bike lane and not on the sidewalk. Please follow these rules as pedestrians on the sidewalk have the right of way and should not move out of your way if you are biking on a sidewalk. Again, respect and common sense go a very long way!

  • Uptown/Downtown
  • Mammoth Rock
  • Shady Rest
  • Chipmunk Canyon
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Mammoth town loop bike path
  • Lakes Basin bike path

My favorite sites to visit in the Eastern Sierra

  • Rainbow Falls
  • Devils Postpile
  • Manzanar
  • Bodie State Park
  • Benton Hot Springs
  • Inyo Craters
  • Artesian springs
  • Hot Creek Geological Site
  • Crowley columns

Past Eastern Sierra summer blog posts

Upcoming blog posts:

Wildfires: Evacuating the JMT during the Creek Fire

Bugs: Preventing and treating those nasty mosquito bites!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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