Lake George to Deer Lakes Backpacking

Mammoth Lakes, California

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Dramatic, far-reaching views unfold as you climb toward Deer Lakes—across startling terrain. You begin on light-colored, coarse granite sand that abruptly ends at dark red cinders near the ridgetop, where a well-formed cone rises from a bowl of red cinders into the mountain sky. While this is the Sierra, it’s a landscape distinctly reminiscent of Maui’s famed Haleakala Crater. There has been considerable volcanism from here north in the Sierra, and the contrast between the typical Sierran gray granite and these colorful volcanic features is a source of joy and wonder along this stark, airy, alpine route. The tiny lakes basin is an alpine gem in the barren terrain setting, and it’s so little used that you may have it all to yourself. Finish your journey with an interesting cross-country leg and then a descent through a fine lodgepole forest—quite a contrast with the treeless route to Deer Lakes!—past several attractive lakes and ponds. The trailheads for this shuttle trip are fairly close to each other in the same lakes basin, and energetic hikers can make a loop of this trip by walking the roads back to their starting point. That’s a lot packed into a mere weekend’s trip!

Lake George to Deer Lakes (Backpacking) Professional Review and Guide

"Dramatic, far-reaching views unfold as you climb toward Deer Lakes—across startling terrain. You begin on light-colored, coarse granite sand that abruptly ends at dark red cinders near the ridgetop, where a well-formed cone rises from a bowl of red cinders into the mountain sky. While this is the Sierra, it’s a landscape distinctly reminiscent of Maui’s famed Haleakala Crater. There has been considerable volcanism from here north in the Sierra, and the contrast between the typical Sierran gray granite and these colorful volcanic features is a source of joy and wonder along this stark, airy, alpine route. The tiny lakes basin is an alpine gem in the barren terrain setting, and it’s so little used that you may have it all to yourself. Finish your journey with an interesting cross-country leg and then a descent through a fine lodgepole forest—quite a contrast with the treeless route to Deer Lakes!—past several attractive lakes and ponds. The trailheads for this shuttle trip are fairly close to each other in the same lakes basin, and energetic hikers can make a loop of this trip by walking the roads back to their starting point. That’s a lot packed into a mere weekend’s trip!"

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Mammoth Lakes
Distance: 13
Elevation Gain: 2,755 feet
Trail Type: Shuttle
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 2 days
Season: Best late summer through early fall
Local Contacts: Inyo National Forest - permit required
Local Maps: USGS 7.5-min Bloody Mtn., Crystal Crag
Driving Directions: Directions to Lake George to Deer Lakes (Backpacking)

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May 2018