I love to plan trips, but I also love to go along for the ride when others do the planning. Especially when it leads to some great times with family and friends. My Brother- and Sister-in-Law plan family camping trips every year. In 2011 it was to Sequoia National Park (a long standing traditional summer camping trip for them), but for the summer of 2012 they decided to do something different… condo camping in Mammoth. It was to a large part a family reunion but in a very cool place surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery and all the comforts, actually more than all the comforts, of home. One of my favorite activities, anywhere, anytime, is hiking. They chose a family friendly hike, with tons of scenery.
We parked along the road just past Rock Creek Lake. The road travels beside Rock Creek. Having water nearby always adds to my enjoyment on hikes. There is a parking lot at the end of Rock Creek Road, near the trailhead for Little Lakes Valley Trail. There are restrooms and several great views of the creek. We got everyone together and headed up the trail. The mountain to the east of the trail was completely barren and rocky but to the west the mountain had trees at least part way up. Although the trail is surrounded by rugged terrain it is a fairly easy hike to the first lake. We stopped to have lunch on a rocky outcropping above Mack Lake. Plenty of seats for the whole group and a great view in every direction.
We had a wide span of ages and hiking fitness, but everyone was convinced to go to at least the next lake. This was good advice. The name is not that appealing, Marsh Lake, but the view across the lake was spectacular! Be sure to hike out toward the lake on the small side trail, this is where you will get the best views. Here’s another picture of Marsh Lake.
The hike back also had some great views of the creek and valley.
There were many more “things to do” in Mammoth than time to do them. We rented two 3-bedroom condos that had great views of the mountains and the pool/hot tub in the center of The Village complex in Mammoth. They were right next to each other which made spending time and eating together much easier. With a little “remodeling” we had one very large dining table in one of the two condos.
There were also several options for food, shopping, and nighttime entertainment very near by. We had a lot of fun “going out” one night… and played pool on one of the worst pool tables I’ve ever played on that was on the patio of the nearby bar. Not level, needed new felt, had a mishmash of balls that had been remarked to try to make a reasonable set of balls to play 8-ball with. Very confusing when there are 3 cue balls and only about 5 striped balls. But we had a great time anyway. Maybe it was the giant drink we all shared to kick off the night?
We also headed over to the “ski slopes” which in the summer are set up for downhill mountain biking. I would love to try that out some time! We took the gondola to the top of the mountain to check out the views. Of course, for no reason my “fear of heights” kicked in, not on the gondola, but on top of the mountain. This made no sense as their were very few areas with sudden drop offs and I wasn’t anywhere near these, but I had a constant uncomfortable feeling up there. I also managed to accidentally switch my camera to “special effects” mode in my pocket. It was set to “soft focus” mode, which I did not catch by looking at the pictures on my camera screen, but it was obvious later on the computer. I’m not sure why a camera even has this kind of “mode” when you can post process normal photos to have any of these effects. I changed the default “special effect” to be sepia so that if my camera is accidentally switched to the mode it will be obvious and I can switch it back to automatic. Even in “soft focus” mode, the photos show the amazing views from the top of the mountain.
The gondola ride has an impressive “ground disappearing” moment as it leaves the station at the top of the mountain. This didn’t bother me, but it was a cool effect!
On the drive back down the mountain we stopped and walked around the Earthquake Fault marked area just off the road. It is part of Inyo National Forest. It was really hard to capture in pictures, but an impressive tear in the earths surface. I recommend taking this walk if you are driving by the area.
We had a great visit with the family in a beautiful place. I’m sure we didn’t even scratch the surface, so I’m sure I’ll go back for another summer visit to Mammoth.
Here are a few more pictures.
This is another view across Marsh Lake, taken through the trees.
Hanging out on top of Mammoth Mountain.
Here’s a view of Marsh Lake from the main trail. Not that impressive. Be sure to take the small side trail over to this lake!