Hiking Convict Lake
Yosemite › Convict Lake Trailhead
Added by Todd Gordon
- 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.
- Day pack
- Sun protection
- Fishing pole
- Trekking poles (optional)
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Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Swimming
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As a weekly visitor to convict lake if not more, I just want to point out winter hiking is doable but can be icy. Often windy as well. Looking to photograph the lake? Early in the day creates a perfect reflection especially with no wind.
Such a beautiful place to visit! The little cabins at the Convict Lake Resort were such a treat and reasonably priced during a slightly off-season. We enjoyed an amazing meal at the restaurant...the luxury of fine dining in the the casualness of dirty hiking pants! The campground is a very nice stay, as well. Mt. Morrison is a great hike, though cross-country and requires a little planning and navigation skills. We definitely look forward to a return trip :)
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