Laurel Lakes Road

Mammoth Lakes, California (Mono County)
Last Updated: 08/08/2016
5/5 (1 review)
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 3-6
Length: 10 miles
Highest Elevation: 10056 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Mammoth Lakes
Nearest Town w/ Services: Mammoth Lakes
Official Road Name: 4S86 / 28E201
Management Agency: Inyo National Forest
District: Mammoth Ranger District
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Highlight: Laurel Lakes Road

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.


Route Information

Technical Rating: (3-6)

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.

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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 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 throughout the trail. For current trail status go to

Seasonal Information

Spring:Trail may be impassable due to snow.
Summer:Trail is usually dry and dusty.
Fall:Trail is usually dry and dusty.
Winter:Trail may be impassable due to snow.


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 (0.75 mi)

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 (1.4 mi)

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

4. Meadow (1.7 mi)

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 (1.9 mi)

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 (3.6 mi)

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 mi)

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.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 37.623427, -118.906732

Starting Point: Mammoth Lakes

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.


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: For more information about disperesd camp in this area go to:
Camping: Laurel Lakes Road

Writer Information

David May

Mapping Crew - California
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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 and the San Bernadino Mountains. When I got my first car, my free time revolved around it. A few years later I got my first off-road truck. Now I was able spend time doing all the things I loved. Over the years I have had a variety of different off-road vehicles. Some were stock, while others were highly modified. With my son recently getting his own 1st generation Toyota 4Runner, we have been spending more time working on his truck and hitting the trails. Whether exploring, hiking, hunting or camping, being outdoors with my family is how I want to spend my down time. Life is too short to spend it on the couch. Go out there and find your next adventure.


Questions & Answers (3)

Q: I have a stock 2019 tacoma trd off road. Bilstein suspension with rear locker but no 4x4. Can I make it?
–nick (10/18/2018)
A: As long as it is in good weather and there is no snow along the route you should be fine. Where the snow collects on the road it is narrow. Should you run into some snow you may need to back down until you find enough space to turn around.
–David May (10/19/2018)
Q: Great write up David. What month did you go up? 'Do you happen to know if Laurel Lake has fish?
–Alex (04/04/2018)
A: 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.
–David May (04/05/2018)
Q: 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
–Nicholas (06/25/2017)
A: Made it with little difficulty yesterday, in a Jeep XJ with a 41/2” lift, and 32s. Watch your tires, especially if you air down and don’t have bead locks. Much of the trail is sharp, loose rock, more easily navigated in your vehicle than on foot. My wife did some fly fishing, no success, but fish and game is conducting an “anglers survey” at Laurel Lake, and have imposed a 2 fish per day limit, minimum 14 inches. So I guess there’s fish in there, somewhere.
–Anthony Thorpe (10/12/2018)
A: 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.
–David May (06/26/2017)

Trail Reviews (1)

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Trail was in great shape but very crowded at the lake. It was a beautiful day, about 75 and partly cloudy. I will try to post some pictures at a later date.