The Eastern Sierra is often referred to as “California’s Switzerland” for its jagged peaks and high-altitude attractions. The options for dog-friendly hikes in the region are limitless, but if you want to top off some exercise with a hearty meal, we have a couple of suggestions. Little Lakes Valley Trail in Little Lakes Valley between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop is family-friendly as well as dog-friendly (leashes required). It’s also very popular, and for the best of reasons.
The trail, which departs from road’s end in upper Rock Creek Canyon, winds around a string of seven high-elevation lakes surrounded by 13,000-foot peaks that hold a frosting of snow well into July. Many hikers simply stop at one of the lakes to have a picnic and take in the views. Wildflowers are in full bloom in late July and August, while fall color hits a blazing peak the first week of October. The hike is 6 miles round-trip, with an elevation gain of only 500 feet. (Tip: arrive before 10 a.m. on summer weekends to snag a trailhead parking spot).
Two miles up the road from the trailhead, Rock Creek Lakes Resort Grill is a great stop for a pre-hike breakfast, après-hike lunch, late-afternoon dessert, or Friday-Saturday happy-hour indulgence (in summer). No dogs are allowed inside and there’s not an attached patio, but you can enjoy your food at dog-friendly picnic tables on the grounds. Alternatively, stop in the morning or the day before at the amazing Bleu Market & Kitchen in Mammoth Lakes and pick up some supplies for a lakeside picnic. This new food hall/restaurant is a destination unto itself (your dog will have to wait in your vehicle while you shop).
Another hike with a yummy ending is the 3-mile trek around beautiful Convict Lake, one of the most-photographed bodies of water in the Eastern Sierra. The 12,241-foot Mount Morrison massif forms a dramatic backdrop that changes color throughout the day, going from shades of deep salmon-orange to the most delicate of browns and grays. Named after an 1871 shootout in which a group of escaped convicts killed two members of a local posse, the glacier-carved lake, one of the deepest in the region, is renowned for trout fishing as well as easy hiking.
After your hike, chow down at a picnic table surrounded by scenery on the grounds of Convict Lake Resort (better yet, spend the night here; it makes a great dog-friendly base camp). Breakfast and lunch are served daily from the resort’s food truck, while the highly regarded fine-dining restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m.