MAMMOTH LAKES SCENIC LOOP
The Mammoth Lakes scenic loop is a beautiful short drive through a
forest of Jeffrey Pines. Not many people drive this and it is a welcomed
opportunity to get a way from the action of the town of Mammoth
Lakes. If you are doing both the June Lake Loop and the Mammoth
Scenic Loop, you should start the drive off Minaret Road, which
is the road up to the Mammoth Lakes Main Lodge. It winds its
way through forests and eventually ends up at 395. You're first stop will be to pull over near the start to see the San Andreas Fault. The fault is the start of the giant fault-line that goes all the way into Southern California. Along the way
you will pass the Inyo Craters, which is a great hiking trail. If you want to go biking in Mammoth
you can ride along the scenic loop as well.
One of the last notable volcanic events in the Mammoth-Mono area,
occurring 550 to 600 years ago, resulted in Inyo Craters, just north
of Mammoth off the Mammoth Scenic Loop. In this explosion, magma
stayed well below the surface, heating rock and groundwater to a
critical degree and causing a large, triple-barreled blast. Today,
rainwater and snow melt form small lakes at the bottom of two of
these huge pits, one 200 feet deep and the other 100 feet deep.
The third crater is on top of Deer Mountain, located 400 yards north
of the middle crater. The turnoff for the Inyo Craters trailhead
is located on the Scenic Loop Road. A graded gravel road takes you
to the trailhead, where a short hike leads to the edge of the craters.
A sign at the south crater explains how the craters were created.
The water in the north crater offers a small oasis for wildlife.
For spectacular views, continue up the steep path to the north and
climb to the top of Deer Mountain.
You may want to stop and see Lookout Mountain
and Obsidian Dome on your drive, as it is located between the
two scenic loops.
You may want to include the Lakes
of Mammoth in your day tour drive. They are amazing and all
linked together. Or you may choose to do the Mammoth Lakes Basin
and the Consolidated Gold Mine,
which make another great half-day tour.
JUNE LAKE LOOP
The June Lake Loop - Hwy. 158 is a 14 mile stretch of highway which
branches off of Hwy. 395. There are 4 major lakes that sit directly
next to the road. This drive is stunning, and winds through some
of the most incredible scenery on the east side of the Sierras.
The June Lake Loop travels along a winding road with steep mountains
towering overhead and reflecting in the calm lakes below.
You enter the June Lake Loop from the 395 just south of Lee Vining. Most people
enter at the southern entrance, by the gas station and loop around
and coming out on 395 in the north. The loop leads you past June
Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake. In the winter
these lakes are frozen over. In the summer they are a wonderful
attraction for fishing, boating, and swimming. Silver Lake and Grant
Lake are the most dramatic and there are many turnouts along the
way to take in the views. The June Lake shores are dotted with the
local businesses and the popular swimming beaches.
When you first get a glimpse of June Lake from the southern part of the loop you will see a wooden vista tower on your right side. You too can carve your initials in the wood like hundreds before you. I recommend stopping and climbing up this little vista structure. You will have great views of the entire June Lake Basin and the towering mountains that surround it.
A few miles from the June Lake loop is a road that leads to the west off of the 395 called Glass Flow Road. This is a safe dirt road for cars in the summer months. It leads through a undisturbed Jeffrey Pine forest to the base of millions of large pieces of obsidian rocks stacked on one another. It rises about a 100 feet and extends for many more than that. This pile of obsidian rock is similar to the formation in Lassen National Park near Cinder Cone. This is a great place to get away during the summer and fall months. It is extremely quiet here and on a warm day it is an ideal place to read a good book.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Mammoth Ranger Station and Visitors Center
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546