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Crystal Lake via Mammoth Crest Trail

Mammoth Lakes, California

based on 4 reviews



2.5 miles

Elevation Gain

1257 ft

Route Type



Added by Aaron Jaro

The hike to Crystal Lake offers up breathtaking view of Lake George, Lake Mary, and Lake Mamie at the top.Then, you'll experience the beauty and serenity of Crystal Lake. If you're lucky, you might see a fairy (I had that feeling!).

In Lake George, park along Lake George Road and walk towards Crystal Crag Trailhead sign to begin the hike. If you couldn't find it, you can head to the boat rentals by the lake and you will see a sign saying trailhead is behind you. The trail is well maintained and it is really easy to follow.

As you go up, you will slowly have a bigger view of Lake George. There are some big rocks where you can climb and take photos. At the top, you will definitely have a breathtaking view the the three lakes. This is also a good spot to take a short break.

You can then descend to reach the beautiful Crystal Lake. We took our hike just before sunset, and the sun just turned our view into a painting. It was a very relaxing and serene experience.

  • Total hiking time 2 hours or less. 
  • No permit needed and parking is free.
  • Start early or late to avoid crowd.
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Crystal Lake via Mammoth Crest Trail Reviews

This hike isn't too far out of town (~20 minutes up lake mary road). If you're going on a holiday weekend, make sure you get there early (before 8) to get parking. For a large portion of the hike and just before dropping down to Crystal Lake in the last 1/4 mile, you'll have expansive views of Lake George, Lake Mary, and Twin Lakes. I made the mistake of too many photo ops with the best views at the top! Once you make it to Crystal lake, head to your left for a little more trail and better seating. You can also get closer to the rock island if you're bold enough for a quick swim. Just a heads up, the water is brisk (~low 50s). We brought a fly rod up, but had no luck.

Great rock jumping! Super beautiful!

Semi strenuous hike but completely worth it for the surrounding views and lake itself. Make sure to not accidentally wander into private property or roads on your way up or down, the locals are sensitive to trespassers. For a real treat hike to the lake in the winter or early spring, it’s much harder to find the trail but views are unmatched. For the rock climbers out there; Crystal Crag, for which the trail gets its name, is an amazing and unique place to climb. The crag its self offers both sport and trad routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.11, with a couple routes that go to the summit.

I highly recommend going early when the light on the mountains is best and before the crowds hit the trail. Going early also increases your chance of arriving before the wind and getting to see all the mountains perfectly reflected in the lake.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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Photograph Lake Mary, Mammoth Lakes

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