Snowshoeing in Mammoth Lakes and Southern Mono County

Snowshoes have been around for many centuries.

The older types were made of wood and rope. They were heavy and really only used for travel and survival.

They have evolved big time over the last 30 years. When you rent or buy a pair of snowshoes today you’re getting a lightweight, highly effective version of what has been used for centuries.

Snowshoes serve many purposes here in Mammoth Lakes. When our winters bring monster storms and turn Mammoth Lakes into a winter wonderland, just getting around your home can be impossible.

Just about every Utility company in snow country carries snowshoes.

The Snow Shoes keep you on top of the snow rather than having to body plow through it.

Snowshoes allow you to get enough float and surface area so traveling and working in deep snow is possible.

There are a number of reasons to enjoy the benefits of snowshoeing:

* A fun, inexpensive, and active way to visit the outdoors

* Simple to learn and easy to access places covered with snow

* Great cardiovascular exercise for adults and for kids

* An entertaining social group activity

Here are some local areas you can go and check out:

Mammoth Lakes Visitors Center – Shady Rest

Using this parking area as a launching point you are treated to miles of trails and off-track areas to explore on shoe shoes.

Before you venture out, stop in the visitors center for maps and current conditions in the Shady Rest area.

The Mammoth Meadow
The views from the meadow are some of the most breathtaking views you can find in the world.

It is an incredible experience in any season.

Once the meadow is sealed with enough snow cover… it’s time to experience and explore this area on snowshoes.

The meadow trail is about 1 1/2 miles long if you do a loop of the meadow.

Do remember to be careful and watch out for the creek…a deep snowpack can easily hide the water just underneath.

Sierra Meadows Area

The sierra ranch road serves as your main gateway to fun in this area.

The town plows out parking in this area in the winter.

Please be sure to obey the signs and rules they have posted or risk getting a parking ticket.

Once you’ve parked and have gotten your snowshoes secured, you can access all of the Sherwin range from this starting point.

This is a mixed-use area so be ready for snowmobile, and cross country skiers.

Mammoth Mountain to the Minarets View Point
Park at the ski area and then walk with your gear up to the Mammoth Mountain Inn.

From the inn parking area, you can snowshoe right up a snow-covered highway 203.

In the first section, you share the area with downhill skiers,

the rest of the trail is shared-use with snowmobiles and cross country skiers.

This is a nice long snowshoe track that leads you up to the Sierra Crest where you will find some very impressive views. Round trip, it’s a moderate trip at about 5 miles.

Mammoth Lakes Basin
During the winter they plow the road up to tamarack lodge and then gate off the rest for winter use. This is a great place to go if you’re looking for quiet time.

No Snowmobiles are allowed in the lakes basin until the third week of April so it’s peaceful and nice in this area. Tamarack Cross Country area takes up all of the paved road areas in the Lakes Basin.

Snow Shoeing in this region is allowed, but you have to stay off the groomed cross-country ski trails. Stay to the side and all is well. Once in the lakes basin, there is a lot of room to roam without interfering with the cross country skiers.

Mammoth Creek Park Trail
Park at the Mammoth Creek Park off of Old Mammoth Road just past The Stove restaurant. The trail starts just across the road from the parking area.

The adventure follows Mammoth Creek for about 1/4 mile before it breaks away and follows a very scenic route all the way down to the Mammoth Lakes Skate Park.

This route can take on a lot of wind and sun exposure so conditions are going to vary. The round trip is around 3 miles. The trail is mostly downhill to the skate park and uphill back to the car. Bring a camera for this snowshoe adventure, as the views over the open land are awesome.

During a storm cycle, it’s always fun to put your snowshoes on at home or the condo and take a stroll around the area.

Snowshoes add a new dimension to storm fun. They let you glide thru the freshly fallen snow, almost like skis or a snowboard.

Here are some Safety Tips from Snowshoe Magazine:

Snowshoeing is an extremely safe sport. It is also one of the only winter-specific sports that do not depend upon sliding or speed.

The manageable and maneuverable nature of modern aluminum-framed snowshoes and the soft forgiving nature of snow combine to make the risk of injury while snowshoeing very low.

Snowshoeing involves a natural motion similar to walking, to which the body is accustomed, and is very low impact, due to the cushioning of snow. Any wintertime outdoor activity has its risks and snowshoeing is no exception.

Take care to avoid the following hazards:

* First it’s a good idea to always bring Food and Water with You! Just do it…

* Thin ice: Do not walk over frozen water unless you are sure of its safety. Even after a long freeze, a body of water may have thin spots. Be careful!

* Hidden obstacles: Beware of barbed wire fences, holes, or uneven terrain under the snow. Tread lightly!

* Getting lost: You can usually follow your tracks out but beware of storms and wind that can cover them up. Always let someone know where you are & when you expect to return.

* Wildlife: Please keep your distance and respect their environment. The critters out there in winter have a rough time as it is!

** Frostbite: Protect all exposed appendages, especially as the temperature drops or the wind increases. Insulated gloves or mittens and thick hiking socks will keep those digits toasty, and a mask or balaclava can keep your nose from growing icicles.

* Hypothermia: Staying warm means keeping your body dry inside of your clothes and out. Dress properly for your time outside. Wearing a damp, sweaty, cotton t-shirt outside in the wintertime can be just as chilly as falling in open water. Know your limits, stay hydrated, and bring extra layers on long outings in isolated areas.

* Altitude sickness: Higher elevations may have better snow, but bring the risk of altitude sickness. Stay within your limits, keep well hydrated, and ascend gradually.

* Avalanches: Familiarize yourself with the terrain and potential dangers before you depart. If you travel in areas where avalanches are a possibility, it is strongly recommended that you seek proper safety and rescue instruction and carry the appropriate equipment.