Hikes in Inyo National Forest

Region in California, United States

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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Best Hikes in Inyo National Forest

Showing 1 to 20 of 73
    Open details for Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail

    Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail

    Easy
    7.9 km
    157 m
    2-2.5h

    Regarded as one of the best routes within the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the Rainbow Falls via Devils Postpile Trail is a must do when visiting Inyo National Forest. After traversing a scenic pathway, the route ends at a stunning waterfall that will not leave you disappointed!

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    Open details for Mount Whitney Trail

    Mount Whitney Trail

    Very Hard
    33.6 km
    2,026 m
    11.5-16h

    A physically demanding and technically formidable route, the Mount Whitney Trail is a must-do for the seasoned hiker who enjoys a challenge. Traversing steep switchbacks and taking you alongside sheer cliffs, the route should only be attempted by experienced hikers whose skills, physical ability and equipment are sufficient enough for the rigours of the imposing mountain.

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    Open details for Devil’s Postpile Loop

    Devil’s Postpile Loop

    Very Easy
    2.1 km
    71 m
    0.5-1h

    Short in distance, and with relatively little elevation gain, the Devil's Postpile Loop is an excellent route for beginner hikers and families with young children. The route traverses a scenic pathway before arriving at the stunningly amazing Devil's Postpile - an incredible geological formation that is amongst the most beautiful within Inyo National Forest.

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    Open details for Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail

    Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail

    Easy
    6.6 km
    142 m
    1.5-2h

    Kennedy Meadow to the Bridge via PCT Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest that traverses the scenic terrain of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range. This moderately difficult route takes you alongside a charming river and through lovely meadows, and is considered to be an excellent place for viewing wildlife.

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    Open details for Treasure Lakes Trail

    Treasure Lakes Trail

    Moderate
    9.3 km
    422 m
    3-4h

    The Treasure Lakes Trail is a magical route within Inyo National Forest that is ideal for intermediate hikers, and families with older children. Traversing steadily inclining terrain, the route brings you to a pair of tranquil lakes where incredible sightlines can be enjoyed.

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    Open details for June Lake Loop Trail

    June Lake Loop Trail

    Easy
    6.8 km
    376 m
    2-3h

    An ideal route for intermediate hikers, and families with older children, the June Lake Loop Trail is a stunning route within Inyo National Forest. A great trail to see wildlife and take in the scenery of the surrounding landscape, the June Lake Loop Trail is an excellent choice for your next hike!

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    Open details for Saddlebag Lake Trail

    Saddlebag Lake Trail

    Easy
    6.4 km
    95 m
    1.5-2h

    A family-friendly route in Inyo National Forest, the Saddlebag Lake Trail is a scenic pathway that traverses the shoreline of beautiful Saddlebag Lake. A route with great views of the surrounding landscape, Saddlebag Lake Trail is also considered an excellent place to view wildlife.

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    Open details for Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop

    Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop

    Moderate
    12.4 km
    280 m
    3-4h

    An absolutely stunning route, Twenty Lakes Basin and Saddlebag Lake Loop is a must-do route within Inyo National Forest. Traversing the imposing alpine terrain of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the route is excellent for wildlife viewing and admiring the highland vegetation that is prolific throughout its extent.

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    Open details for Hot Creek Interpretive Trail

    Hot Creek Interpretive Trail

    Very Easy
    0.6 km
    24 m
    0.5h

    The Hot Creek Interpretive Trail is a short route that is appropriate for all skill levels, and families with young children. The trail brings you along Hot Creek - a geothermally heated waterway surrounded by the imposing mountains of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The Hot Creek Interpretive Trail possesses a number of educational plaques to help inform visitors on the natural history of the area.

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    Open details for Crystal Lake Trail

    Crystal Lake Trail

    Easy
    5.0 km
    254 m
    1.5-2h

    A stunning route, Crystal Lake Trail traverses some lovely forested terrain before arriving at picturesque Crystal Lake. A fairly short route, Crystal Lake Trail is both family friendly and easily accessible. The route boasts incredible views of the surrounding Inyo Forest Landscape and is regarded as an excellent place to see wildlife.

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    Open details for Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail

    Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail

    Moderate
    12.9 km
    323 m
    3-4.5h

    The Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail is an incredible route that brings you to a number of picturesque lakes within Inyo National Forest. Fairly long, and with a sizable amount of elevation gain, the Little Lakes Valley to Gem Lakes Trail is rated as moderately difficult and is therefore appropriate for intermediate hikers and families with older children.

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    Open details for Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail

    Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail

    Moderate
    10.5 km
    572 m
    3.5-5h

    Considered to be a more challenging route, the Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail is ideal for more experienced hikers. Traversing beautiful terrain with gorgeous views, many do the Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine Lake Trail as a warm up route before attempting to summit Mount Whitney itself.

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    Open details for Minaret Lake Trail

    Minaret Lake Trail

    Hard
    21.6 km
    743 m
    6-8h

    Taking you through stunning mountain topography, alongside charming creeks, and eventually ending at the picturesque Minaret Lake, the Minaret Lake Trail is an incredible route. A longer trail with a fair amount of elevation incline, the Minaret Lake Trail is ideal for more experienced hikers and those looking for a challenge in Inyo National Forest.

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    Open details for Lake Mary Loop

    Lake Mary Loop

    Very Easy
    3.5 km
    18 m
    0.5-1h

    The Lake Mary Loop is a short route within Inyo National Forest that is ideal for families with young children and those seeking a casual hiking experience. Regarded as a great place to view wildlife, the Lake Mary Loop takes you around the shoreline of scenic Lake Mary.

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    Open details for Mammoth Mountain Trail

    Mammoth Mountain Trail

    Moderate
    13.5 km
    638 m
    4-6h

    A scenic route that offers incredible sightlines of the surrounding region, the Mammoth Mountain Trail is an excellent choice for your next hike in Inyo National Forest. Fairly long in distance, and with a notable amount of elevation gain, the Mammoth Mountain Trail is perfect for intermediate hikers and families with older children.

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    Open details for Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail

    Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail

    Hard
    10.6 km
    634 m
    3.5-5h

    The Gem Lake via Rush Creek Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest. Traversing the imposing topography of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the route ends at a tranquil lake where stunning sightlines can be enjoyed.

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    Open details for Convict Lake Loop Trail

    Convict Lake Loop Trail

    Very Easy
    4.0 km
    55 m
    1h

    Convict Lake Loop Trail is a beautiful route in Inyo National Forest. Short in distance and with little elevation gain, the Convict Lake Loop Trail is perfect for beginner hikers and families with young children. The route is also dog-friendly, so feel free you bring your furry friends along with you!

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    Open details for Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail

    Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail

    Hard
    17.2 km
    781 m
    5-7.5h

    Traversing alongside quaint creeks and through charming meadows, the Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail is an excellent choice for your next hike in Inyo National Forest. As the Jordan Hot Springs via Casa Vieja Trail ends at a natural hot spring, it is an incredibly unique route that you won't want to miss!

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    Open details for Sky Meadows Trail

    Sky Meadows Trail

    Easy
    5.8 km
    285 m
    2-2.5h

    The Sky Meadows Trail is a great route for beginner hikers and families with younger children. Ending at a sublime alpine meadow, the route is not excessively long. Taking you alongside beautiful lakes and charming creeks, the Sky Meadows Trail is regarded as an excellent wildlife viewing route.

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    Open details for Fern Lake Trail

    Fern Lake Trail

    Moderate
    5.0 km
    477 m
    2-3h

    Appropriate for intermediate hikers and families with older children, Fern Lake Trail is a beautiful route within Inyo National Forest. The trail ends at stunning Fern Lake, where picturesque views of the surrounding alpine landscape can be enjoyed. Along with its great sighlines, Fern Lake Trail is also regarded as an excellent route for wildlife viewing.

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