Laurel Lakes Road

Mammoth Lakes, California (Mono) Technical Rating: 3-6

Last Updated: 08-09-2016

Po2
Status: Open
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Length: 10.0 Miles
Category: Altitude, Forest, Overland, Sand, Snow Wheeling
Highest Elevation: 10,056 '
Duration: about 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Go: N/A
Connecting Trails:
Nearest Town:
Mammoth Lakes
Nearest Town w/ Service:
Mammoth Lakes
Nearby Trails:
Forest Service Road: # 4S86 / 28E201
Forest Service / Park District:
Inyo National Forest / Mammoth Ranger District

Laurel Lakes Road Highlights

Highlights: Laurel Lakes Road - Mammoth Lakes, California

Laurel Lakes Road is a great scenic trail just outside the town of Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern High Sierras. The narrow five mile road has lots of places to turn out and pass. Starting at 7,300 feet and ending just over 10,000 feet, this trail has snow capped mountains, aspen groves, creeks and a back country lake. With so many sights in front of you, it easy to miss the great views from behind as you leave the valley floor.

Technical rating: (3-6) Easy-Moderate

Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.

Read more about our rating system

Video

Directions to Trailhead

From Hwy 395 exit at Sherwin Creek Road. The Laurel Lake trailhead is 1.3 miles on your left. From Old Mammoth Rd take Sherwin Creek Road south for 4.4 miles The Laurel Lakes trailhead will be on your right.

 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:

37° 37' 24.34"N
118° 54' 24.24"W

Topo Maps:

USGS Topo Map

GPS Exchange File:

Download

Route Description

Laurel Lakes Rd is a narrow dirt road made from loose rocks and shale. There are lots of turnouts for the first 3/4 of the trail. For the last last part of the trail it is harder to pass, so watch for places to pass as you travel. Most of the trail is spent climbing. 6" to 12" rocks are common through out the trail.

1: Laurel Lakes Trailhead (0.0mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 1: Laurel Lakes Trailhead Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 1: Laurel Lakes Trailhead Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 1: Laurel Lakes Trailhead

Coming from Hwy 395, the road to the trailhead is a maintained gravel road. The trailhead is to your left. There is adequate space at the trailhead to park a vehicle or trailer.

2: Vista w/pullout (0.8mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 2: Vista w/pullout Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 2: Vista w/pullout Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 2: Vista w/pullout

This is the first real opportunity to pull off the trail and take a minute to see where you have already traveled. The Lake Crowley is off to the right.

3: First glimpse of the valley (1.4mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 3: First glimpse of the valley Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 3: First glimpse of the valley Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 3: First glimpse of the valley

Straight ahead is the start of the valley below the Laurel Lake basin.

4: Meadow (1.7mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 4: Meadow Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 4: Meadow Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 4: Meadow

Off to the right is the first access to the creek. Parking here is scarce, but there is some. Please don't park in the meadow and stay on developed roads.

5: 28E201A Cutoff (1.9mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 5: 28E201A Cutoff Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 5: 28E201A Cutoff Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 5: 28E201A Cutoff

Down the hill on the right is Laurel Creek. There is great place to picnic, camp or just hang out for a while. The area is in a big aspen grove. There is a few developed fire pit. If you plan on having a fire, don't forget to get your fire permit.

6: Last Turnout before Switchbacks (3.6mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 6: Last Turnout before Switchbacks Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 6: Last Turnout before Switchbacks Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 6: Last Turnout before Switchbacks

Against the hill on the left is one of the few spots to turn around before heading up the switch backs. From this point forward the trail gets a little more narrow. In the spring and winter months snow is usually blocking the road here.

7: Laurel Lakes (5.0mi)

Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 7: Laurel Lakes Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 7: Laurel Lakes Laurel Lakes Road - Waypoint 7: Laurel Lakes

Off to the right is Laurel Lake. This is another great place to picnic, camp, fish or just relax. Lot of hiking trails start from this location.

Access Issues

Due to the elevation of this trail, Laurel Lakes Road is subject to impassable snow drifts. During these times the road will still be listed as open, but accessing the last part of the trail can only be done on foot. Before planning your trip, be sure to call the Mammoth District ranger station for updated road information. That information can also be found in the link below.

More Information

Camping and Lodging

Camping & Lodging: Laurel Lakes Road - Mammoth Lakes, California

Dispersed camping is allowed in the Laurel Canyon area. This means that there is no toilets, picnic tables or running water. Water from lakes and streams should be treated before use. When selecting a campsite try and use a site that has already been established. Sometimes they will have a primitive fire ring. Fires are allowed with a permit in the canyon, but can be closed during dry hot weather. A fire permit can be obtained online at: http://www.preventwildfireca.org/Campfire-Permit/. For more information about disperesd camp in this area go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/inyo/recreation/camping-cabins/?recid=20228&actid=34

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David May

I have been a southern California native my entire life. Growing up we spent a lot of time in the Eastern High Sierras, the Calico Canyons...

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Questions & Answers

Question:

Great write up David. What month did you go up? 'Do you happen to know if Laurel Lake has fish?
By Alex on April 04, 2018
respond

Answer:

I have been up there a half dozen times, all between the end of May and mid June. I have not fished the lake, but I have seen people fishing there. I have caught small Brook trout in the creek downstream of the lake. This is a great area off of the beaten path.
By David May Official Crew on April 05, 2018

Question:

What up, Do you think a 2015 Tundra with coilover lift up front and 33's could make it, or would I have clearance issues? Thanks
By Nicholas on June 25, 2017
respond

Answer:

You should be fine. Depending on when you go, you may encounter an impassable snow drift towards the end of the trail. On a year with normal snow fall, it can be socked in till late June or early July. Please be sure to submit a Trip Report after you run the trail.
By David May Official Crew on June 25, 2017

Trip Reports

No trip reports.

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