Mammoth is full of amazing places to hike, but if you are looking for a short hike with a fantastic payoff, then look no further than Crystal Lake. This hike is three miles round trip with a decent amount of uphill, but it takes you to the bottom of an epic crag that overlooks multiple lakes and has its own lake right at the base. Here is all the information so you can take this hike yourself.
- 3 miles
- 800 feet of elevation
- Location: Lake George Rd, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
- This information is from my hike in 2016 and 2022
To get to the trailhead, you will want to proceed out of the city of Mammoth on Lake Mary Road and up to Lake George. The parking lot here is where the hike starts.
After arriving at the small parking lot near Lake George, you will see a trailhead, right near where you came into the parking area. The trailhead says Crystal Crag, and this is the trail you will be taking to the lake.
The trail is shaded most of the way, which is good because it immediately heads up. Since it is only 1.5 miles each way, you will be hiking up basically the entire time.
Once you get to the top of the first hill, right past the cabins, you will get your first view of Crystal Crag from the trail.
This rock goes in and out of view over the time you are hiking, and it is a pretty amazing beacon that leads you on to your destination.
The trail then starts heading into switchbacks as it climbs over dirt, fallen trees, and rock-hewn steps.
As you gain more elevation, you will be greeted with views down into the canyon behind you, which has four lakes you can see stretching into the distance.
Continuing up the switchbacks, you will reach a split in the trail where you will follow the sign that leads you to the lake.
This trail almost immediately crests the hill, and you start heading down towards the lake.
From here, you have great views of the crag, and if you come at the right time, it can be awesome to see the way it reflects on the water.
There is a trail that takes you along the right side of the lake, and we walked on it for 10 minutes or so, but I am not sure how far it goes. The lake itself is fantastic, and the views here are spectacular, especially with the crag looming behind it.
I was in a time crunch, so I only stayed for 20 minutes around the lake, but I got some amazing shots with the warm sunset light. When you get down the hill, be sure to walk down to Lake George. It is a great place to photograph the crag you just hiked to from far away as well.
On the way out, we happened to drive by Lake Mary, and the sun was creating a fantastic reflection, so we grabbed a few photos.
You can see a video I made of a weekend in Mammoth with my kids here and I hiked this trail as one of the first things we did.
If you are visiting Mammoth Lakes, then this is a great hike to get your blood flowing without having to use a lot of time. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.