California’s Great Beyond

Duck Pass Trail

  • Mammoth Lakes Basin, Coldwater Creek
  • Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
  • Phone: (760) 924-5500

A classic John Muir Wilderness hike with a series of challenging switchbacks, epic views and lovely alpine lakes along the way. Trail begins at the top of Coldwater Campground where free day parking is available. Allow a half-day to reach Skelton Lake (1.5 mile one way) or a full day for the rewarding sight of Duck Lake (5 miles one way). Expect moderate-to-strenuous uphill climbs, starting in the shade, then sun-exposed in higher elevations. Trout fishing, horseback riding and backpacking are popular uses of this well-traveled trail. The trailhead sits at about 9,200 feet and hits 11,230 at the highest point. Duck Pass links in with the Pacific Crest Trail/JMT at higher elevations and can be extended into the backcountry quite significantly. This trail is a point-to-point type of hike, with very difficult inclines and trail terrain. The best season to hike this particular trail is July through September, but be prepared for warm temperatures and exposure to the sun at the higher elevations along the trail. Make sure to be prepared and pack lots of water, as well as water treatment pills or drops.