Convict Lake, in the Eastern Sierras off Highway 395, is a beautiful place to explore and a lake you will have a hard time leaving. There is a ton to do there, from hiking and fishing to just taking a boat out on the water. While there are many trails, the most popular is just the 3 mile loop around the lake. It is hard to believe just how much beauty you can see in 3 miles, and I assure you that the Convict Lake Loop is not one you will soon forget. Here is all the information.
- 3 miles
- 200 feet elevation gain
- Parking on the north or south side of the lake
- I visit in 2014, 2018 and 2020
Here is a video I made of the trail in 2020.
Convict Lake is located right off Highway 395 in between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. The drive up to the lake is beautiful with large mountain peaks looming in front of you. When you make it to Convict Lake there is a small parking lot near the boat launch and more parking around the east side of the lake where you can begin your hike from.
For this trail, you can start on either side of the lake (north or south), but I think the south side is probably better as there is more parking.
The trail immediately drops down to the lake and follows that path for about 60 yards before heading back up into the trees as it winds around. There are a lot of lovely views here, and it is good to be in the shade.
The trail drops down and passes through a fantastic area that is surrounded on both sides by aspens.
I love walking through here, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning.
From there, the trail heads up onto a wooden platform that takes you over the creek for about a quarter of a mile.
You can jump off of this at any point and access the beach to the right for fishing.
I hopped off and opted to follow the creek up for about a quarter of a mile and ran into some deer.
I also saw a massive ancient bristlecone pine tree as well.
As you continue on the wooden planks, there is a lot of great views.
After you get back on the trail, you will be heading to the other side of the lake for the walk back. This is also where the trailhead for the 4-mile hike into the backcountry is.
This is also where the views start getting awesome. As you walk back, make sure you turn around every 5 minutes as the view behind you will continue to change and continue to get better.
You will also pass the big tree on the north side that people told me is where they hanged criminals, but I confirmed that is not true with some locals.
After that, you continue along the trail until you hit the marina.
Here there is some history of the area, so make sure to read if you are interested.
After that, simply proceed back to your car to complete the hike. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you haven’t been here, you really need to go.