Inyo National Forest Hiking
Inyo National Forest Hiking

hikes in Inyo National Forest

Region in California
Inyo National Forest Trail Map

Inyo National Forest's biodiversity and imposing mountainous terrain make it an ideal wilderness area for hiking! At an impressive 800,000 acres, Inyo National Forest boasts an abundance of routes for all ability levels. Leading you to picturesque lakes, up the summits of grandiose mountains, and alongside charming creeks, Inyo National Forest's hiking network is incredible in its scenery and accessibility.

Since the options for hikes within Inyo National Forest are so copious, we have made a list of some of our favorite hiking routes. While every route stated below is incredible, this list just scratches the surface of the trail possibilities within Inyo National Forest!

The 10 Greatest Hikes In Inyo National Forest

  1. Mount Whitney Trail - The piece de resistance of Inyo National Forest, the Mount Whitney Trail is an incredibly challenging route that boasts amazing sightlines of the surrounding Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape.
  2. Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail - Taking you past the stunning geological formation of Devils Postpile before delivering you to beautiful Rainbow Falls, you won't want to miss this popular route within Inyo National Forest.
  3. Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT - A moderately difficult hike, Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT is regarded as an excellent route to see wildlife as it takes you alongside a charming river and through picturesque meadows.
  4. Treasure Lake Trail - Ideal for intermediate hikers and families with older children, the Treasure Lake Trail delivers you to a pair of stunning lakes, where incredible sightlines can be enjoyed.
  5. June Lake Loop Trail - An excellent location for wildlife viewing, the June Lake Loop Trail is easily accessible and possesses great views of the surrounding Inyo National Forest landscape.
  6. Saddlebag Lake Trail - Circumventing the shoreline of an alluring alpine lake, the Saddlebag Lake Trail is a family-friendly route where you can take your time and enjoy!
  7. Hot Creek Interpretive Trail - The Hot Creek Interpretive Trail is a family-friendly route that takes you on an educational tour of a unique geothermally heated creek.
  8. Crystal Lakes Trail - After traversing a delightful forested section, the Crystal Lakes Trail arrives at a picturesque lake where you will want to stop and have a picnic!
  9. Mammoth Mountain Trail - A trail that leads you up the backside of Mammoth Mountain - a popular ski hill within California - the route is easily accessible and an excellent choice for a day hike with older children.
  10. Sky Meadows Trail - Leading you to a gorgeous alpine meadow, the Sky Meadows Trail is perfect for beginner hikers and families with young children.

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Inyo National Forest?

Although Inyo National Forest is a year-round destination, the best time to hike within its beautiful landscape is during the warmer months - from June till October. During this time the alpine wildflowers bloom, and the cornucopia of life that inhabits the ecosystem is most active - making for an experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Other Outdoor Activities In Inyo National Park

Along with its extensive hiking trail network, Inyo National Forest has no shortage of fun outdoor activities to do! During the warmer months, cyclists bike along the scenic roadways and technical mountain bike paths. Kayakers, canoeists and stand up paddle boarders make their way to the many lakes throughout the area, while rock climbers ascend the imposing cliff faces of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As fall turns into winter, people ski and snowboard at world famous ski resorts such as Mammoth Mountain, and snowshoe along Inyo National Forests many trails and frozen lakes.

Inyo National Forest Adventure Tours

The Sierra Nevada Mountain range has an amazing variety of professionally guided and planned tours. If interested, take a look at adventure tours in Sierra Nevada.

Frequently Asked Questions About Inyo National Forest

Do I need a permit for Inyo National Forest?

Permits are only required for overnight trips and any route along Mt. Whitney.

How much does it cost to climb Mt Whitney?

Mount Whitney Permits cost $6 to apply and another $15 per person once the permit is granted. Permits are given out through a lottery that takes place annually.

Are campfires allowed in Inyo National Forest?

Outside of designated Inyo National Forest recreational sites, campfires are not permitted.

How many people climb Mt. Whitney each year?

Although approximately 30,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Whiney each year, a fraction of that are actually successful as the route is technically and physically demanding.

Other great Hiking Regions in California

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The best hikes in Inyo National Forest

Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail

01. Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail
Difficulty

4.9mi 515ft 2-2.5h

Regarded as one of the best routes within the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the… Read More

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Mount Whitney Trail

02. Mount Whitney Trail
Difficulty

20.9mi 6,647ft 11.5-16h

A physically demanding and technically formidable route, the Mount Whitney Trail is a must-do for… Read More

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Devil's Postpile Loop

03. Devil's Postpile Loop
Difficulty

1.3mi 233ft 0.5-1h

Short in distance, and with relatively little elevation gain, the Devil's Postpile Loop is an… Read More

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Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail

04. Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail
Difficulty

4.1mi 466ft 1.5-2h

Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National… Read More

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Treasure Lakes Trail

05. Treasure Lakes Trail
Difficulty

5.8mi 1,385ft 3-4h

The Treasure Lakes Trail is a magical route within Inyo National Forest that is ideal… Read More

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June Lake Loop Trail

06. June Lake Loop Trail
Difficulty

4.2mi 1,234ft 2-3h

An ideal route for intermediate hikers, and families with older children, the June Lake Loop… Read More

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Saddlebag Lake Trail

07. Saddlebag Lake Trail
Difficulty

4.0mi 312ft 1.5-2h

A family-friendly route in Inyo National Forest, the Saddlebag Lake Trail is a scenic pathway… Read More

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Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop

08. Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop
Difficulty

7.7mi 919ft 3-4h

An absolutely stunning route, Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop is a must-do route… Read More

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Hot Creek Interpretive Trail Map

09. Hot Creek Interpretive Trail
Difficulty

0.4mi 79ft 0.5h

The Hot Creek Interpretive Trail is a short route that is appropriate for all skill… Read More

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Crystal Lake Trail

10. Crystal Lake Trail
Difficulty

3.1mi 833ft 1.5-2h

A stunning route, Crystal Lake Trail traverses some lovely forested terrain before arriving at picturesque… Read More

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Yes, there are more than 10

Inyo National Forest is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Inyo National Forest that you should take a look at as well

Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail

11. Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail
Difficulty

8.0mi 1,060ft 3-4.5h

The Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail is an incredible route that brings you… Read More

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Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail

12. Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail
Difficulty

6.5mi 1,877ft 3.5-5h

Considered to be a more challenging route, the Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake… Read More

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Minaret Lake Trail

13. Minaret Lake Trail
Difficulty

13.4mi 2,438ft 6-8h

Taking you through stunning mountain topography, alongside charming creeks, and eventually ending at the picturesque… Read More

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Lake Mary Loop

14. Lake Mary Loop
Difficulty

2.2mi 59ft 0.5-1h

The Lake Mary Loop is a short route within Inyo National Forest that is ideal… Read More

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Mammoth Mountain Trail

15. Mammoth Mountain Trail
Difficulty

8.4mi 2,093ft 4-6h

A scenic route that offers incredible sightlines of the surrounding region, the Mammoth Mountain Trail… Read More

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Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail

16. Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail
Difficulty

6.6mi 2,080ft 3.5-5h

The Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest.… Read More

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Convict Lake Loop Trail

17. Convict Lake Loop Trail
Difficulty

2.5mi 180ft 1h

Convict Lake Loop Trail is a beautiful route in Inyo National Forest. Short in distance… Read More

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Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail

18. Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail
Difficulty

10.7mi 2,562ft 5-7.5h

Traversing alongside quaint creeks and through charming meadows, the Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja… Read More

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Sky Meadows Trail Map

19. Sky Meadows Trail
Difficulty

3.6mi 935ft 2-2.5h

The Sky Meadows Trail is a great route for beginner hikers and families with younger… Read More

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Fern Lake Trail

20. Fern Lake Trail
Difficulty

3.1mi 1,565ft 2-3h

Appropriate for intermediate hikers and families with older children, Fern Lake Trail is a beautiful… Read More

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Lake George to Emerald Lake via Coldwater Campground Trail Map

21. Lake George to Emerald Lake via Coldwater Campground Trail
Difficulty

5.3mi 833ft 2-3h

An ideal route for families with young children, Lake George to Emerald Lake via Coldwater… Read More

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Mammoth Pass and McLeod Lake Trail Map

22. Mammoth Pass and McLeod Lake Trail
Difficulty

7.7mi 2,070ft 4-5.5h

Mammoth Pass and McLeod Lake Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest. Traversing… Read More

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Emerald Lake Trail

23. Emerald Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.7mi 394ft 1h

Short in distance and with relatively little elevation incline, the Emerald Lake Trail is ideal… Read More

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Twin Lakes Campground Trail

24. Twin Lakes Campground Trail
Difficulty

3.4mi 233ft 1-1.5h

With great views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Twin Lakes Campground Trail is… Read More

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La Hupp Picnic Area To Green Lake Trail Map

25. La Hupp Picnic Area To Green Lake Trail
Difficulty

5.0mi 1,844ft 3-4h

A trail that boasts incredible views of the surrounding alpine environment, the La Hupp Picnic… Read More

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Honeymoon Lake Trail Map

26. Honeymoon Lake Trail
Difficulty

11.7mi 3,150ft 6-8.5h

A fairly long route with a notable amount of elevation incline, the Honeymoon Lake Trail… Read More

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Yost Creek to Yost Lake Trail Map

27. Yost Creek to Yost Lake Trail
Difficulty

4.5mi 1,791ft 3-4h

Yost Creek to Yost Lake Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest that… Read More

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Methuselah Trail Map

28. Methuselah Trail
Difficulty

4.0mi 761ft 2-2.5h

The Methuselah Trail is a scenic route within Inyo National Forest. Taking you through an… Read More

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Steelhead Lake via McGee Pass Trail Map

29. Steelhead Lake via McGee Pass Trail
Difficulty

11.1mi 2,523ft 5.5-7.5h

Steelhead Lake cia McGee Pass Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest. A… Read More

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McGee Creek to Horsetail Creek Trail

30. McGee Creek to Horsetail Creek Trail
Difficulty

3.6mi 719ft 1.5-2.5h

McGee Creek to Horsetail Creek Trail is a family-friendly route in Inyo National Forest. The… Read More

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31. Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail
Difficulty

11.8mi 1,604ft 4.5-6.5h

Cirque Lake via Cottonwood Lakes Trail is an incredible route within the eastern Sierra Nevada… Read More

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Horton Lake Trail

32. Horton Lake Trail
Difficulty

7.6mi 1,978ft 4-5.5h

Horton Lake Trail is fairly long and possesses a relatively large elevation incline and is… Read More

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Reversed Peak Trail Map

33. Reversed Peak Trail
Difficulty

6.9mi 1,969ft 3.5-5h

Reversed Peak Trail is undoubtedly an underrated route within Inyo National Forest. A lightly trafficked… Read More

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Lundy to Oneida Lake Trail Map

34. Lundy to Oneida Lake Trail
Difficulty

8.1mi 1,860ft 4-5.5h

A scenic route within Inyo National Forest, Lundy to Oneida Lake Trail is ideal for… Read More

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Gibbs Lake Trail Map

35. Gibbs Lake Trail
Difficulty

5.8mi 1,732ft 3-4.5h

The Gibbs Lake Trail is a stunning route within Inyo National Forest that leads you… Read More

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Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake Trail

36. Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake Trail
Difficulty

4.2mi 1,257ft 2.5-3h

A moderately difficult route, Rush Creek Trail to Agnew Lake Trail leads you through the… Read More

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Lone Pine Campground to Whitney Portal Trail Map

37. Lone Pine Campground to Whitney Portal Trail
Difficulty

6.6mi 2,165ft 3.5-5h

The Lone Pine Campground to Whitney Portal Trail boasts incredible views of the surrounding landscape.… Read More

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Dinosaur Falls Trail Map

38. Dinosaur Falls Trail
Difficulty

2.7mi 381ft 1-1.5h

Dinosaur Falls Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest. Easily accessible, the route… Read More

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Sabrina Basin to Donkey Lake Trail Map

39. Sabrina Basin to Donkey Lake Trail
Difficulty

7.6mi 1,673ft 3.5-5h

Sabrina Basin to Donkey Lake Trail is a scenic route within Inyo National Forest that… Read More

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Cabin Trail to Methuselah Loop Map

40. Cabin Trail to Methuselah Loop
Difficulty

4.8mi 968ft 2-3h

Cabin Trail to Methuselah Loop is an excellent choice for your next hiking route within… Read More

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Bennettville Trail Map

41. Bennettville Trail
Difficulty

2.8mi 299ft 1-1.5h

The Bennettville Trail is an easily accessible, family-friendly route within Inyo National Forest. The route… Read More

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Horseshoe Lake Trail Map

42. Horseshoe Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.8mi 115ft 0.5-1h

A short route with little elevation incline, Horseshoe Lake Trail is an ideal route for… Read More

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Skelton Lake Loop Map

43. Skelton Lake Loop
Difficulty

3.4mi 860ft 1.5-2.5h

A beautiful route within Inyo National Forest, the Skelton Lake Loop traverses the stunning alpine… Read More

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Inyo Craters Trail

44. Inyo Craters Trail
Difficulty

1.6mi 315ft 0.5-1h

Taking you alongside two impressive volcanic craters, the Inyo Craters Trail is an easily accessible… Read More

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Great Sierra Mine via Gaylor Lakes Trail Map

45. Great Sierra Mine via Gaylor Lakes Trail
Difficulty

3.7mi 1,227ft 2-3h

The Great Serra Mine via Gaylor Lakes Trail is a stunning route that takes you… Read More

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Lake George to Deer Lakes Trail Map

46. Lake George to Deer Lakes Trail
Difficulty

10.3mi 2,936ft 5.5-7.5h

Lake George to Deer Lakes Trail is an easily accessible, yet fairly challenging route within… Read More

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Cottonwood Lakes Trail Map

47. Cottonwood Lakes Trail
Difficulty

12.6mi 1,421ft 5-6.5h

The Cottonwood Lakes Trail is an excellent route within Inyo National Forest. Primarily used as… Read More

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Nunatak Nature Trail Map

48. Nunatak Nature Trail
Difficulty

0.5mi 33ft 0.5h

Nunatak Nature Trail is an ideal route for those seeking a casual hiking experience! Short… Read More

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Gable Lakes Trail Map

49. Gable Lakes Trail
Difficulty

7.8mi 3,284ft 5-7h

A challenging route within Inyo National Forest, the Gable Lakes Trail leads you through stunning… Read More

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Red Meadow Resort to Lower Falls Trail

50. Red Meadow Resort to Lower Falls Trail
Difficulty

3.9mi 528ft 1.5-2h

Red Meadow Resort to Lower Falls Trail is a moderately difficult route in Inyo National… Read More

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Upper Pine Lake via Italy Pass Trail Map

51. Upper Pine Lake via Italy Pass Trail
Difficulty

10.7mi 2,959ft 5.5-8h

A more challenging route, Upper Pine Lake via Italy Pass Trail is ideal for more… Read More

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Sierra Viewpoint Trail Map

52. Sierra Viewpoint Trail
Difficulty

0.3mi 39ft 0.5h

The Sierra Viewpoint Trail is a short route with hardly any notable elevation incline and… Read More

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Cottonwood Lakes and Army Pass Trail Map

53. Cottonwood Lakes and Army Pass Trail
Difficulty

12.9mi 1,516ft 5-7h

Cottonwood Lakes and Army Pass Trail is a scenic route within the high alpine environment… Read More

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June Lake Loop Trail to Yost Creek Trail Map

54. June Lake Loop Trail to Yost Creek Trail
Difficulty

7.8mi 1,709ft 3.5-5h

An easily accessible route within Inyo National Forest, June Lake Loop Trail to Yost Creek… Read More

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Big McGee Lake Trail

55. Big McGee Lake Trail
Difficulty

15.2mi 2,844ft 6.5-9.5h

A stunning route within Inyo National Forest, Big McGee Lake Trail traverses some stunning Sierra… Read More

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Barney Lake Trail Map

56. Barney Lake Trail
Difficulty

5.4mi 1,178ft 2.5-3.5h

Barney Lake Trail is a moderately difficult route within Inyo National Forest. The beautiful route… Read More

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Conness Lake from Saddlebag Lake Trail Map

57. Conness Lake from Saddlebag Lake Trail
Difficulty

6.3mi 928ft 2.5-3.5h

A scenic route within Inyo National Forest, Conness Lake from Saddlebag Lake Trail is ideal… Read More

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Mountain View and 3S89 Road Loop Map

58. Mountain View and 3S89 Road Loop
Difficulty

3.2mi 354ft 1-1.5h

Mountain View and 3S89 Road Loop is a delightful route within Inyo National Forest. Leading… Read More

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Lakes Basin Path to Pack Trail Map

59. Lakes Basin Path to Pack Trail
Difficulty

11.7mi 1,886ft 5-7h

A more challenging route within Inyo National Forest, Lakes Basin Path to Pack Trail is… Read More

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Valentine Lake Trail Map

60. Valentine Lake Trail
Difficulty

9.1mi 2,231ft 4.5-6.5h

An underrated route within Inyo National Forest, Valentine Lake Trail is without a doubt worth… Read More

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McLeod Lake Trail

61. McLeod Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.8mi 351ft 1h

McLeod Lake Trail is a fairly short route that possesses little elevation gain, and is… Read More

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Heart Lake Trail

62. Heart Lake Trail
Difficulty

2.4mi 564ft 1-1.5h

The Heart Lake Trail is an excellent, family oriented route within Inyo National Forest. A… Read More

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Earthquake Fault Trail

63. Earthquake Fault Trail
Difficulty

0.3mi 16ft 0.5h

The Earthquake Fault Trail is a short and easily accessible route that is appropriate for… Read More

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Seven Lakes Point via Dragon’s Back Trail Map

64. Seven Lakes Point via Dragon’s Back Trail
Difficulty

5.5mi 2,349ft 3.5-5h

Seven Lakes Point via Dragon’s Back Trail is a scenic route within Inyo National Forest… Read More

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Lower Rock Creek Canyon Trail Map

65. Lower Rock Creek Canyon Trail
Difficulty

8.8mi 1,289ft 3.5-5h

A scenic route within Inyo National Forest, the Lower Rock Creek Canyon Trail is an… Read More

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Big Pine Creek Campground and Glacier Lodge Loop Trail

66. Big Pine Creek Campground and Glacier Lodge Loop Trail
Difficulty

1.4mi 341ft 0.5-1h

Short in distance, and with relatively little elevation gain, Big Pine Creek Campground and Glacier… Read More

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Bristlecone Pine Forest to Mexican Mine Ruins Trail Map

67. Bristlecone Pine Forest to Mexican Mine Ruins Trail
Difficulty

1.4mi 98ft 0.5h

The Bristlecone Pine Forest to Mexican Mine Ruins Trail is a unique route within Inyo… Read More

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Silver Lakes Sierras Trail Map

68. Silver Lakes Sierras Trail
Difficulty

12.3mi 3,350ft 6.5-9h

The Silver Lakes Sierras Trail takes you alongside a number of tranquil lakes, all while… Read More

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Gull Lake Loop

69. Gull Lake Loop
Difficulty

2.0mi 66ft 0.5-1h

Taking you along the shoreline of charming Gull Lake, the Gull Lake Loop is an… Read More

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Hungry Packer Lake Trail Map

70. Hungry Packer Lake Trail
Difficulty

15.7mi 2,864ft 7-9.5h

The Hungry Packer Lake Trail is a lightly trafficked route within Inyo National Forest. The… Read More

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Lake George Trail

71. Lake George Trail
Difficulty

1.5mi 105ft 0.5h

An adventurous route, Lake George Trail brings you along the shoreline of its namesake. Although… Read More

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Sotcher Lake Trail

72. Sotcher Lake Trail
Difficulty

1.7mi 184ft 0.5-1h

A beautiful route, Sotcher Lake Trail is ideal for families and those seeking a more… Read More

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Chocolate Lakes Loop Trail Map

73. Chocolate Lakes Loop Trail
Difficulty

7.4mi 1,634ft 3.5-5h

A stunning route within Inyo National Forest, the Chocolate Lakes Loop is an ideal route… Read More

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