3 mile loop that takes you around the lake. Incredible views. Easy access from Mammoth and Highway 395. Excellent Fishing. Year-Round access.

In 1871, a group of inmates escaped from a prison and were ambushed near the lake by a posse who had tracked them down. The inmates escaped the shoot out after killing two of the men in the posse and the lake now had a name – Convict Lake.

You won’t witness a wild west shootout here, but if you find yourself in the Eastern Sierra, Convict Lake is a must see. It’s a pristine lake that sits at 7,580 feet and is surrounded by towering peaks which makes for some incredible views.

The lake is about 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes and a short drive off of Highway 395. You’ll take the Convict Lake Road all the way to the lake and pass by a small resort on the way. The turnoff is opposite of the Mammoth Yosemite Airport on 395.

Once you get to the lake, you can park near the boat launch on the right or go left and continue until the end of the pavement. You can hike the loop in either direction. The trail is about 3 miles and relatively flat. If you go when it’s warm, there’s a nice rope swing along the way. There’s also a campground not too far away from the lake if you want to stay overnight.

If you want to do a more strenuous hike or backpacking, you can take the Convict Lake Backcountry trail and head out to the John Muir Wilderness. This is a strenuous hike of 6 miles and a gain of 2,700 feet of elevation. Be sure to grab a permit if you’re backpacking and bring a bear canister.

Fishing is also a popular activity at the lake. You can fish from the shore, rent a boat, or bring your own boat. The lake is stocked and has both Rainbow and Brown Trout. If you need a license or to rent a pole, you can do so at the general store of the small resort.

Morning is probably the best time to go if you want a nice photo of the lake when the mountains are lit up. During the Fall, aspens around the lake make for a dramatic scene.

If you're hungry after hanging out at the lake, head up Highway 395 to Mammoth Lakes for some food and adult beverages. The carnitas burrito at Roberto's Cafe is delicious and the beers at Mammoth Brewing Company are some of the best around.

Pack List

  • Day pack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sun protection
  • Fishing pole
  • Camera
  • Trekking poles (optional)
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RT Distance 3 Miles
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Kayaking, Swimming, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Beautiful Short Hike

This hike is beautiful, and the perfect distance for a mid-afternoon hike. It's a relatively easy three miles, but still gets you out into the mountain air.

5 star views

really gorgeous lake/mountains. lots of fun for a casual or starting a longer hike.

Awesome hike, especially in the winter

This is my favorite winter hike in Mammoth. It's never too busy, and the trail is very well maintained. Make sure you make your way all the way around, the views from the other side of the lake are incredible!


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