Fans have read the book and seen the movie, and now many want to walk the walk without committing five months to the Pacific Crest Trail.
California’s Mono County, in the Eastern Sierra, is the perfect jumping-off point for shorter trekking adventures into the heart of the High Sierra scenery and the beautiful wilderness that makes the PCT one of our country’s most popular hiking trails. Following is a list of the top eight hikes in Mono County for dipping your toes into the world of Wild.
1) Little Lakes Valley, Rock Creek Canyon: The trailhead starts at a lofty 10,000 feet, making this 5-10 mile out-and-back hike the perfect entry into high alpine lakes surrounded by dramatic 13,000-foot peaks. After the hike, a slice from Pie in the Sky Café offers a delicious homemade reward.
2) McGee Creek Canyon, near Crowley Lake: Featuring constantly changing colors from bountiful wildflowers in early summer to autumn leaves in the fall, this 8-mile out and back takes hikers to a beaver pond with the opportunity to go further to Steelhead, Little and Big McGee lakes.
3) Crystal Lake Trail, Mammoth Lakes: Winding upward from Lake George in the Mammoth Lakes Basin, this moderate trail brings hikers to the pristine Crystal Lake and up to the Mammoth Crest with breathtaking views of the High Sierra and many lakes below.
4) Parker Lake Trail, June Lake Loop: This short hike follows an aspen-lined creek ending at Parker Lake, the perfect place for a swim on a warm summer day, with views of Mono Lake on the return trip.
5) Twenty Lakes Basin, Tioga Pass/Highway 120, west of Lee Vining: Iconic alpine terrain on Yosemite’s eastern border makes this trail a must do, linking numerous lakes on a loop out of Saddlebag Lake, where hikers can opt to take a boat taxi to the trailhead. Go to www.saddlebaglakeresort.com for current schedules and pricing.
6) Lundy Canyon Trail, Lee Vining: This 4-6 mile hike has it all - from wildflowers and fall colors to waterfalls and beaver dams – and shows off many of the awe-inspiring characteristics of Mono County’s high alpine terrain.
7) Virginia Lakes Trail, Bridgeport: With Dunderberg Peak towering above, this moderately steep trail winds its way upward through alpine meadows, around crystal-clear lakes and even an old mining cabin, delivering intrepid hikers to the top of Summit Pass, where views of the dramatic Sawtooth Ridge are a beautiful reward.
8) Leavitt Meadows Trail, Walker: Leaving right from Leavitt Meadows Campground, this relatively flat trail follows the Wild and Scenic-designated West Walker River up to Lane and Roosevelt Lakes, and is a great choice for families.
The 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, a National Scenic Trail, intersects Mono County at a few points on its winding route from Mexico to Canada. Rush Creek Trail, off of the June Lake Loop starting above Silver Lake, is a beautiful way to connect, climbing past Agnew and Gem lakes along Rush Creek into the heart of the High Sierra. Many hikers trying for either the whole Pacific Crest Trail or the sometimes-overlapping 211-mile John Muir Trail often use Red Meadows out of Mammoth Lakes as a resupply point, and it also makes for an excellent entry past Devils Postpile.
*Remember to tread lightly - take only pictures and leave only footprints!
For more information, visit www.MonoCounty.org
About Mono County:
Located approximately 310 miles west of Las Vegas, 315 miles north of Los Angeles, and 280 miles east of San Francisco, Mono County accesses the east entrance to Yosemite National Park and beckons visitors in all seasons. The region was listed among the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet and its major thoroughfare, US Highway 395, has been named among the country’s best five road trips by USA Weekend. From abundant trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding and bird watching in summer, stunning fall foliage in autumn, to wintertime pursuits of skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing – and simply partaking in good old-fashioned fun in the snow – Mono County is a year-round recreation paradise. For more information or to request guides, visit www.MonoCounty.org or call 800-845-7922.
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