Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shadow Lake Trail



We wanted to do one last hike near Mammoth Lakes and decided on the Shadow Lake trail. The trailhead is off Minaret Rd at Agnew Meadows, a few miles past the Forest Service entrance station. This is the same fee booth we went through to get to Devils Postpile. $10 per vehicle or free with the National Parks pass. During the season you have to take the mandatory shuttle to the trailhead from the Mammoth Ski Area, but it stops running after Labor Day.

The parking lot was nearly full, but we didn’t realize the Shadow Lake trail was actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail. We saw quite a few backpackers going both directions along the trail.

The trail begins at 8,300 feet, with the grasses of Agnew Meadows dry and brown at this time of year.


For over two miles the trail is mostly level or gradually descending into the San Joaquin River Valley.


We passed by Olaine Lake.


Then crossed the river over a nice bridge.


After the bridge the trail begins a fairly steep uphill climb, with switchbacks and rock steps.


But nice views of Mammoth Mountain.


After over 700 feet of climbing in about a mile, we knew the lake had to be close when we spotted this waterfall.


First glimpse of Shadow Lake. The photos don’t convey how beautiful this looked.



We stopped for lunch behind the shelter of large rocks. Although it was sunny, it was extremely cool and windy by the lake.


The Ritter Range and Minarets with13,100’ Mt. Ritter.


This was a good choice for our last Mammoth Lakes hike. 7.4 miles and moderately strenuous. The trail continues on another 3.5 miles to Ediza Lake, where most of the backpackers were heading.

And we got to see bear scat, so we know they’re out there. In fact we saw the same thing less than a mile from our site near Hot Creek just a few days ago.


Yesterday we had strong winds, with a slight chance of rain in the forecast. We ended up having light rain most of the afternoon and evening, and awoke this morning to 33 degrees and snow on the Sierra.



Actually it’s been in the 30s the past five nights, a little out of our comfort zone for camping without electric. So today we are moving south closer to Bishop at lower elevations and hopefully warmer temperatures.


  1. Winter is catching up to you! It's unseasonably warm here, still!
    Great photos... you have peaked my interest for that area. Thanks!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! I live in Placerville and consider the Sierra's my backyard and where I spend every free day hiking if I can. Nice pics! Nice that you got to see a little dusting without being right in it. Today sure is gorgeous though without all the smoke from the Rim fire leftover!

  3. What a lovely hike...and so cool you got to see a fresh dusting of snow! It's turned cold in Bend, OR as well. 50's during the day and flirting with 30's at night. I love the cooler weather!

    Metamorphosis Lisa

  4. Beautiful final hike in this gorgeous area:) I have been pinning the hikes so I am prepared when we head this way. Thanks for planning for us:)

    I really like that this trail included part of the PCT. I so want to hike just a piece of this trail. After reading "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, I've wanted to experience a small piece of what she accomplished. If you enjoy reading, this is a wonderful book about Cheryl's journey in life while she completed 1000 miles of the PCT with no hiking experience. I read it before I became addicted to hiking. I then went back to read it again with different eyes after hiking for several months. She was crazy!

    Happy Travels to warmer weather!

  5. What a beautiful hike. Bear country....YIKES! Be careful.

  6. You take some of the prettiest hikes, what a way to spend your days.

  7. I'm getting caught up on all of your Mammoth posts (I'm the one that emailed you about your spot on Hot Creek Hatchery.) We are going to head south in a day or two in search of warmer weather also - it actually snowed here a little bit today! I'm really enjoying all of your posts!

  8. I have really enjoyed all your hikes through the Mammoth Lakes area. I was used to seeing this area only in the winter when skiing.