Reds Meadow via Mammoth Pass

Summary  Link to more information about summary

Difficulty 5 Advanced
Length 11.8 miles round trip
8600 feet
+2800, -2800 round trip
Navigation Road, marked trail, map and compass
Time Very long day
Season December through early May
Snowmobiles Use Not permitted through mid-April. Moderate after mid-April to Mammoth Pass, but not permitted west of Mammoth Pass except in vicinity of Reds Meadow. Contact Forest Service for transition date. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5 series, Crystal Crag, Bloody Mountain
Start Lake Mary Road near Twin Lakes where the road is no longer plowed. The plowed parking area is just past (south of) the turn to Tamarack Lodge and Resort.

Description   Link to more information about description

The experience of hot springs, Devils Postpile, and Rainbow Falls should lure you to Reds Meadow. This tour includes a very steep descent of 1600 feet in 2.3 miles through dense woods. The poor visibility on the descent requires that you follow a compass bearing, and you should expect poor snow conditions.

The tour to Reds Meadow via Mammoth Pass is shorter than the tour to Reds Meadow via Minaret Summit by 2.9 miles each way. An interesting tour is made by combining the two routes. Ski to Reds Meadow via Mammoth Pass and return to civilization via Minaret Summit Road. The total is 14.7 miles. That trip requires a shuttle car. On the positive side, the return is gradual uphill and you have the security of the road.

Mileage Log   Link to more information about mileage log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 0.6
Elevation change: +150

From the trailhead (1), ski south on Lake Mary Road for 0.6 mile until you reach the turnoff (2) on the east (left) side of the road to the site of the mining town of Old Mammoth and present-day Old Mammoth.

Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 0.6 - 1.3
Elevation change: +300, -50

Continue south on Lake Mary Road for 0.7 mile until you reach the first turnoff to Lake Mary (3).

Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 1.3 - 1.6
Elevation change: -50

Continue west and then northwest on Lake Mary Road for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach the second turnoff to Lake Mary (4).

Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 1.6 - 1.9
Elevation change: -50

Continue northwest on Lake Mary Road for 0.3 mile until you reach an overlook above Twin Lakes (5). This point is at the north end of Lake Marnie.

Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 1.9 - 2.5
Elevation change: +50

Continue northwest and then west on Lake Mary Road for a total of 0.6 mile until you reach Horseshoe Lake (6). Do not be tempted to seek refuge out of stormy weather in the well of the trees or structures located near the lake. Escaping toxic gases from the extinct volcano that formed this area can accumulate in these depressions.

Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 2.5 - 3.1
Elevation change: +400

Beyond Horseshoe Lake, the route follows a marked trail, the start of which is not obvious. Look carefully for the marker on the road's southwest end. This is the southwest end of the second parking loop.

In reality, following the marked trail may be more difficult and time consuming that it is worth. This is an ideal opportunity to practice using a compass. Take a bearing at Horseshoe Lake and follow it for the next 0.6 mile. You will be rewarded with learning a new skill.

Ascend southwest for 0.6 mile until you reach McCloud Lake (7).

Waypoint 7 to 8
Miles: 3.1 - 3.4
Elevation change: +0

Follow the north side of McCloud Lake to the west and then continue west for a total of 0.3 mile until you reach broad Mammoth Pass (8).

Waypoint 8 to 9
Miles: 3.4 - 5.7
Elevation change: -1600

At Mammoth Pass, take a bearing from the topo map on the cabins located to the south of Reds Meadow. Following this bearing, descend slightly north of west through dense woods and rugged terrain for 2.3 miles until you reach the cabins (9). If you do not run into the cabins, you will probably intersect snow-covered Minaret Road or Reds Meadow itself.

Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 5.7 - 5.9
Elevation change: -150

Ski north for 0.2 mile until you reach Reds Meadow (10). Refer to the Reds Meadow Via Minaret Summit tour for details regarding side trips to the hot springs, Devils Postpile and Rainbow Falls. Note: Before planning to visit the hot springs, contact the Forest Service to ensure that it is open.

Return to trailhead
Miles: 5.9 - 11.8
Elevation change: +1900, -900

Retrace the route for 5.9 miles back to the trailhead (1).


Print version of map for tour