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McLeod Lake

Inyo National Forest

October 23rd, 2005

1.0 miles
330 vertical feet
Total Time: 1:03

Rating: 7/10

Directions: From Mammoth, take Lake Mary Road up the mountain. Turn right at Lake Mary, then follow the road all the way to the end. Park in the large lot at Horseshoe Lake.   View Driving Map


The large parking lot at Horseshoe Lake was nearly empty when we arrived in the late afternoon, about 2 hours before sunset. The sun still lit up the ghostly image of bare trees standing guard over bare sandy white ground at the trailhead.

Bare trees at trailhead

After a short climb through the sand, we reached a trail intersection. The trail to the right heads off to Mammoth Pass, while the trail to the left goes on to McLeod Lake. We took the left fork, which passes through a conifer forest. It climbs a steady, gentle grade. In only 20 minutes, we were already at the lake.

Shores of McLeod Lake

Mountain crest over McLeod Lake

McLeod Lake is perhaps a little larger than TJ Lake, but it's not as quite as pretty. One advantage of McLeod Lake is that it has wide, sandy beaches, perfect for enjoying the sun. It's ringed by trees, and backed on one side by the Mammoth Crest.

McLeod Lake

While we wandered along the shore near the trail, a couple of hikers walked all the way around the lake. It probably only took them about 10-15 minutes. One caveat for photographers: in the late afternoon, the sun casts a bright reflective glare off the water. It's probably much better photographed in the morning.

Forest at the edge of McLeod Lake

After enjoying the lake, we headed back down the trail and were quickly back at the parking lot, which now only had 2 other cars. After the hike I got to talking with the other hikers who'd been at the lake. They were from Holland, nearing the end of a 3-week vacation including the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. It's always interesting meeting people on the trail and hearing their stories. Although it's a little sad that these people from a foreign country have been to Death Valley and I haven't (yet). But I'll get there eventually...


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