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TJ Lake

Inyo National Forest

October 22nd, 2005

1.8 miles
410 vertical feet
Total Time: 2:55

Rating: 8/10

Directions: From Mammoth, take Lake Mary Road up the mountain. Turn right at Lake Mary, then left toward Lake George. Follow the road into the parking lot, and keep driving until you see the trail sign for TJ Lake/Barrett Lake.   View Driving Map


The Lake George parking lot is rather large, and it was almost full even on this late October morning. However, most of the people there were just fishing at Lake George. We ran into just a handful of hikers on the trail. During the summer, however, I imagine it could get very crowded. Especially considering you get to view 3 beautiful alpine lakes for relatively little effort.

Lake George

Crystal Crag over Lake George

The trail starts out right next to Lake George, following the shore. Anglers are situated all along the way. On the far side of the lake, you can see Crystal Crag. There was just the barest hint of fall foliage on the far shore; it looks like we were several weeks too late for that, at this high elevation.

Duck on Lake George

After a short walk, we were crossing an inlet stream over a small footbridge. From here, the trail gets a little ragged, going over some rocky sections, but nothing too challenging. Along the way you can enjoy more views of Lake George to your right. Then, the trail makes a left turn and heads straight uphill away from the lake. The trail seemed quite steep, especially for us since we'd had less than 18 hours to acclimatize to the altitude. The trail is mostly unshaded here, but it's relatively short.

Barrett Lake

Leaving behind the views of the lake, the trail enters the forest and then tops out at small Barrett Lake. It's a pretty little lake surrounded by trees, with mountains far off in the distance. We stopped for awhile to rest after the steep ascent. After resting, we got up and got back on the trail. Less than 5 minutes later, we were staring down at beautiful TJ Lake.

TJ Lake

Crystal Crag over TJ Lake

TJ Lake is much larger than Barrett Lake, but much smaller than Lake George. It is backed by Crystal Crag and the mountains of the Mammoth Crest. It is much more enclosed than Barrett Lake or Lake George; this lends an air of solitude to it that's refreshing.

Mammoth Crest over TJ Lake

TJ Lake

There's a trail that leads around the entire lake, but we just settled in on the narrow shore by the trail. After a long rest stop, we headed back the way we came. It only took about half an hour to get back to the parking lot, which was now completely full.

Descending to Lake George

Fly fisherman in Lake George


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