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Crystal Lake 2017

Inyo National Forest

August 6th, 2017

3.1 miles
820 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:11

Starting elevation
9054 feet
Max elevation
9735 feet

Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Mammoth Lakes, take Lake Mary Road up to Lake Mary. Turn left onto the road toward Lake George. If you can, park at the near side of the parking lot, as the Crystal Lake trailhead is on the right as you are heading up.   View Driving Map

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GPX File

We did this same hike back in 2009, but that was in June that year when there was a lot more snow. We had problems following the trail because of the snow back then. This time, even after a heavy snow year, the trail was free of snow but it was otherwise pretty much the same.

The trail starts at crowded Lake George. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot nearby; it's possible you may have to park down the road a bit (like we had in 2009). The trailhead starts on the western side, next to the road. The trail immediately starts climbing behind some houses above the lake shore.

Lake George

It climbs pretty steadily, about 700 feet, providing better and better views of Lake George below and the mountains to the southeast. As you might imagine, we shared these views with a lot of hikers on the trail.

Lake George

The trail tops out, then descends briefly toward the lake. We had the option of crossing the outlet stream, but decided to stay on the western side of the lake. There are nice spots to break on the other side of the lake as well, but then we would have been facing the sun. You could probably hike around the entire perimeter of the lake without much difficulty.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake

Unfortunately it got a bit windy and cold while we were sitting by the lake, but it was otherwise nice and started to warm up later. After our lunch break, we returned the way we came. This is an easy 3 mile hike which works great as an acclimatization hike which is what we were going for.

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake from the outlet stream

Lake George

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