Rambling through the Eastern Sierra, California
- Discover the picturesque and rugged beauty of the Eastern Sierra
- Hike Devils Postpile National Monument and the Hoover Wilderness
- See spectacular vistas and visit pristine lakes
- All food and group cooking gear
- Permits, camping fees, and shuttles
- Experienced volunteer leaders who enjoy sharing the outdoors
|Dates||Jun 22–28, 2014|
The Eastern Sierra is a vast region where desert and mountain environments meet to create an area of varied and unparalleled beauty. Our trip will center itself in the beautiful Mammoth Lakes area of the Inyo National Forest. The area encompasses lush meadows, alpine lakes, rugged peaks, scenic vistas, waterfalls, and desert scenery. This diversity once prompted John Muir to call it “a country of wonderful contrasts.” From our group site in Mammoth Lakes we will explore the incredible beauty of this wonderful country. Our trip will take us into Devils Postpile National Monument, Mammoth Lakes, as well as the Hoover Wilderness. Hikes will generally be moderate with some strenuous sections, vary from 5-7 miles per day, and reach elevations over 11,000 feet.
Volcanic actions followed by glaciation were the prime forces shaping the region. Mother Nature has since used its magic to carve out the scenic beauty we see today. For centuries the Paiute and Shoshone tribes wandered the vast stretches of the Sierra Nevada range. It was not until 1826 that this area saw its first white man, legendary mountain man Jedediah Smith. In 1857 gold was discovered in the Bridgeport Valley and by 1859 the eastern slope saw its first gold rush that led to large-scale mining and boomtowns such as Bodie. After the gold ran out, ranching and farming helped support the local economy. By the early 1900s recreation and tourism took hold and the region is now known for its beautiful and rugged scenery as well as its opportunities for outdoor activities throughout the year.
While camping at the Pine Glen group site in Mammoth Lakes, CA we will explore the Eastern Sierra on five different and varied day hikes. The hikes range from five to seven miles and are at elevations between 7,000 and 11,000+ feet. Elevation gains vary each day from 300 feet to more than 1,800 feet. The leaders will make every effort to follow the itinerary. However, the weather can be unpredictable and snow can still be lingering at the higher elevations. Please come with a flexible attitude. Carpooling will be necessary to reach the trailheads.
Day 1: We will meet at the Pine Glen group site in Mammoth Lakes anytime after 2 p.m. Our first meal will be dinner that evening at 5:30 p.m. followed by an orientation of the week's planned activities. Mammoth Lakes is off of Highway 395, about 30 miles south of Lee Vining.
Day 2: After breakfast we will drive to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to catch the shuttle to Devils Postpile National Monument for our hike to Rainbow Falls. The trail is approximately 6.5 miles round trip with very little elevation gain. Besides visiting Upper and Lower Rainbow Falls, we will also stop at the unique basalt rock columns of the Devils Postpile.
Day 3: Today we stay within the Mammoth Lakes area for a six-mile round-trip hike to Sherwin Lakes. The trail begins gently then climbs steeply though a series of switchbacks with beautiful views of Mammoth Lakes before reaching our destination, a cluster of small lakes.
Day 4: We will again catch the shuttle at the Mammoth Mountain Ski for our 5.5-mile round-trip hike to Crystal Lake and Mammoth Crest. Crystal Lake is nestled in a small amphitheater flanked by Crystal Crag and Mammoth Crest, while the ridgeline of Mammoth Crest offers stunning panoramic vistas.
Day 5: Today we head north toward the Mono Lake area and the Lundy Canyon Trail. This spectacular and rugged canyon is characterized by stunning waterfalls, wildflowers, beaver dams, and groves of Aspen trees. This hike has an elevation gain of about 1,800 feet over six miles.
Day 6: On our last hiking day, we will again venture north to the Virginia Lakes Basin on the edge of the Hoover Wilderness. Weather permitting, we will hike 6.4 miles round trip to Summit Pass. This is a moderate to strenuous hike, starting at about 9,700 feet and ending at Summit Pass at 11,100 feet.
Day 7: After a leisurely breakfast, we will break camp.
Reno, NV is the closest major airport. From Reno, it is about 166 miles south to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Mammoth Lakes is located off of Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Bishop, CA. The Pine Glen group site is located near the intersection of Hwy 203 and Old Sawmill Road in Mammoth Lakes. It is behind the Shady Rest campground.
Carpooling is encouraged. The leader will send out trip rosters so that you can coordinate ride-sharing with other participants. Carpooling to the trailhead each day will be necessary. Maps to our group site will be available.
Note: Our group site has a limit of eight vehicles so please try and share a ride.
Accommodations and Food
We will meet at the Pine Glen group site in Mammoth Lakes. The group site is at the end of the New Shady Rest Campground. The facility provides flush toilets, picnic tables, campfire rings, and trash bins. Firewood can be purchased on site. The nearest dump station and showers are within a few miles.
All meals are provided, from dinner the first day to breakfast on the last day. Propane stoves (provided) will be used for food preparation. Instruction will be given on the use of stoves and all other commissary equipment. Group members will do meal preparation and clean-up with the assistance of the leader and co-leader. The leaders take pride in providing satisfying meals -- most are multi-course and usually contain soup and/or salad, a main course, and dessert. Some meals may contain meat or meat substitutes. Though the menu is not vegetarian, participants with moderate special dietary needs should check with the leader well before the trip to see if accommodations can be made. Some personal snacks will be provided; however, because preferences vary, you are encouraged to bring your personal favorites.
Since this trip involves taking day hikes from our base camp, it is rated as easy to moderate and is suitable for beginners. Do not be misled, however, as we will be hiking in a mountainous terrain with some trails that contain steep sections and may involve round-trip distances of seven miles or more. The weather is unpredictable so be prepared for possible thunderstorms, lighting, and even an occasional summer snowstorm. Elevations will range from about 7,000 feet to over 11,000 feet. On average, temperatures in June range from the mid-70s to mid-80s, and lows can drop to the mid 40s.
Equipment and Clothing
Since this is a base camp trip, weight is not a major issue. The leader will provide a detailed equipment list after registration. Some essentials include well-broken-in boots, a day pack, water bottles, tent, sleeping bag and pad, and adequate clothing. Other items to consider include a hat with a brim, windbreaker, suntan lotion, lip balm, insect repellent, sunglasses, special medications, lightweight rain gear, camera and film, binoculars, walking stick, and camp chair. Keep in mind that temperatures usually range from above 70 during the day to below freezing at night. Please be advised that in some years, snow has lingered at this time of year, so be prepared.
The Sierra Club furnishes a group first-aid kit in the event of an emergency; however, you need to bring a basic personal first-aid kit and any personal medications. It also supplies commissary equipment, including pots and pans, cooking and eating utensils, stoves, plates and bowls. Trip members only need to bring their favorite mug. The trip leaders also supply any necessary group water purification, but you must bring personal water purification filter or tablets.
- Whitehill, Karen and Terry, Best Short Hikes in California’s South Sierra.
- Giacomazzi, Sharon, Exploring Eastern Sierra Canyons; Sonora Pass to Pine Creek.
- Irwin, Sue, California’s Eastern Sierra, A Visitor’s Guide.
- Mammoth Lakes Mono Divide, National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map # 809
- Inyo National Forest, United States Forest Service
- Mammoth High Country Trail Map, Tom Harrison Maps
- Mammoth Trails Hiking Trail Map, USDA Forest Service, Inyo National Forest
- Hoover Wilderness Trail Map, Tom Harrison Maps
Rural development, logging, air pollution, and our changing climate are taking their toll on our natural areas. Many of our wild areas are being “loved to death” and finding areas of solitude and ways to disperse use are becoming increasingly difficult. Our focus will be on preservation of public lands and the changing face of the wilderness concept.
In 2014 America celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Sierra Club, various other organizations with a wilderness focus, and the four federal wilderness management agencies are vigorously planning this celebration. The goal of the effort is to assure that a broader public knows about the concept and benefits of wilderness. Sierra Club Outings is a vital part of the celebrations for wilderness.
While the Act was far in the future when our outings program started, we were already promoting the principle behind it: to forever set aside from human developments certain special places, by civic agreement. This is the basic principle on which the Sierra Club was founded. The wilderness anniversary gives us an opportunity to highlight our organization’s leading role—in publicizing this principle, in passing the 1964 Act, and in achieving more designated wilderness since then.
Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under permits from Humboldt-Toiyabe and Inyo National Forests.
Notes for Sierra Club Outings
- Carbon Offsets
- Electronic Billing and Forms
- Electronic Devices
- How to Apply for a Trip
- Leader Gratuities
- Liability Release and Assumption of Risk
- Medical Issues
- Non-discrimination Statement
- Participant Approval
- Reservation and Cancellation Policy
- Seller of Travel Disclosure
- Travel Insurance
- Trip Feedback
- Trip Price
- Wilderness Manners