Hiking Ediza Lake Trail in Mammoth Lakes, California
Ediza Lake in the Ansel Adams Wilderness is one of the prettiest hikes I’ve done by Mammoth Lakes, California. The trail was beautiful the whole way and opens up to a stunning alpine lake and granite peaks surrounding it.
Miles: 13 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,772 feet
Permits: Required for overnight trips
When to go: Late June to early October
Follow the road past the ski lifts at Mammoth Resort towards Devils Postpile. In the winter months, this road is closed and is usually re-opened in June/July, depending on the snow year. You will also need to pay to enter since Devils Postpile is a National Monument, or show your annual National Parks Pass. From here you will follow the road to Agnews Meadows. Get here early, the parking lot at the trailhead fills up fast!
The trail has a fairly gradual elevation gain, but it does get steep in some areas. The trail is also fairly exposed on longer stretches, so start early to beat the midday sun! On this trail you will hike along sections of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and along the John Muir Trail (JMT) and is accessible as a day hike or as a overnight backpacking trip. No permits are required for day hikes, but are required for overnight trips through recreation.gov.
The trail starts along the PCT from Agnew Meadows, and less than a mile in, the PCT breaks off and you will continue to the right past the junction towards Shadow Lake. In the fall, you’ll have a stunning view of the fall colors down the canyon and in the meadows.
The trail will descend into the canyon and about 2 miles in, you will see Olaine Lake. From here keep going and once you start heading up the trail, you’ll be able to see one of the lifts of Mammoth Resorts in the distance. When you run into a junction, keep left towards Shadow Lake.
The trail then turns into a fairly steep and exposed climb up the stream and waterfalls that is fed by Shadow Lake. Keep going and you’ve just reached Shadow Lake. This is a perfect place to stop for a snack, lunch and to take a swim. Make sure you wipe off or rinse off any sunscreen away from a water source before jumping in. This helps protect the ecosystem in the forest and in the lake.
After Shadow Lake, you will keep going. You’re about 3 miles from Ediza Lake. The trail continues gradually at first but then increases the steepness for the final stretch. Right before the lake, you will have a water crossing. Here the trail gets confusing where to continue. Look for a safe place to cross, we crossed down stream but depending on what time you go, upstream might be safer. Check for a safe place to cross.
Once you cross the stream, then keep left. After the crossing the trail can be difficult to find without a map or gps. The trail will curve around rocks and climb up and then below Mt. Ritter and Mt. Banner, Ediza Lake lies.