Laurel Lakes Road
Mammoth Lakes, California (Mono) Technical Rating: 3-6
Last Updated: 08-09-2016
Inyo National Forest / Mammoth Ranger District
Laurel Lakes Road Highlights
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.
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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.
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)
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)
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)
Straight ahead is the start of the valley below the Laurel Lake basin.
4: Meadow (1.7mi)
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)
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)
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.
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.
Camping and Lodging
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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