You can backpack from Mammoth to just about anywhere
in the Sierras you could possibly want to go, given
good legs and a lot of food. Below are a few choice
routes. If you go out and have a particularly good trip
that isn't listed below, write and tell us about it
and we will post it here for others to read about.
Backpacking the Mammoth Area
Just a few caveats. Permits are required. Pick one up
at the Forest Service station in Mammoth BEFORE you
go. Some trails have quotas, so you might want to have
an alternate plan. Weather in our area is fairly stable.
The Eastern Sierra is generally mild and dry during
the summer months. But it isn't unheard of to have snow
in any summer month at the higher elevations, cold windy
days, and some occasional rain/thunderstorm activity
at times. So go prepared. There ARE bears out there.
Black bears. They probably won't eat you, but they WILL
eat your food. So take proper care of it. At some campsites
that isn't so easy, because there aren't many trees
above tree line, so if you are going high, talk to a
ranger about caching food. Take care of the wilderness.
The area around Mammoth sees a lot of backpackers, so
don't be a putz, carry your trash out, don't burn down
the forest, and bury your human excretions properly.
Drink lots of water, eat well, don't hike too far in
one day, and don't fall off the trail, and you will
have a great time.
Ediza Lake and Mt. Ritter
Ediza Lake is only about 6 miles from Agnew Meadows,
but as a weekend trip, it is hard to beat. A moderate-grade
trail passes the San Joaquin River and Shadow Lake,
following a substantial creek most of the way. Campsites
at Ediza are somewhat limited, with a no-camping zone
near the outlet and around the left-hand side of the
lake. Look around the right-hand side past the scree
slope for established sites. Combine this trip with
a Mt. Ritter climb and you have the makings of a classic
weekend. Mt. Ritter from the southwest Glacier above
Ediza is class 2-3 (walk-up), but most times you may
need to have an ice axe and crampons at hand, just in
case. And you need to know how to use them.
Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows
About 30 miles one way. Arrange to be picked up in Tuolumne
or make the trip in reverse. (Local cab companies will
pick you up if you prearrange it). This is a moderate
trip if you take 6 days, but can be done in 3 if you
hump it. People have also run this trail in one day.
Think about that while you are going up one of the passes.
The first ten miles to Thousand Island Lake are relatively
gentle, the middle ten are up and down over two passes,
and the final ten into Tuolumne are flat. This is a
classic route, passing through forests, meadows, and
above the tree line. You get to see a lot of what the
Sierra is famous for.
Thousand Island Lake
About 22 miles round-trip. Moderate grade trail. Good
place to go if you want to put in a long day, then spend
a few days fishing, hiking, or sitting around the camp.
Camp at the west end of the lake (go around the north
side to get there). Easy access to the back side of
Banner and Ritter if you want to climb them. Thousand
Island Lake is called that because this large lake HAS
about a thousand islands in it. To get there, take the
High Route (Pacific Crest Trail) out of Agnew Meadows,
then return via the River trail, which more or less
follows the San Joaquin River. This is a very nice trip.