The ultimate doggie treat: a Mammoth Lakes adventure

By: Roger Coryell
Convict Lake
Photo by Visit Mammoth.

Dog days of summer

Chances are your dog loves to Visit Mammoth as much as you do, if not more. As Fido watches you pack the car with hiking, fishing and bike gear he anxiously waits for his dog bowl and bed to be put in the trunk. With a woof and a wag of the tail, he hops in the car ready for his mountain adventure—it’s Fido’s dogcation.

Mammoth truly is a dog paradise. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite places to take dogs and a few other resources you may need while you are in the Eastern Sierra. As always, be sure to pick up after your dog and respect wildlife and the environment as you enjoy the great outdoors with your pet.

Horseshoe lake

It is unofficially known as dog beach and no dogcation is complete without a visit to Horseshoe Lake in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. The sandy shore is great for stick chasing, the cool water is perfect for a summer swim, and Fido will most likely make a few local paw pals. The Horseshoe Lake Loop is a scenic trail perfect for dog walking, easy hiking, biking, and trail running. The route circles the lake through a shaded lodgepole pine forest, and crosses a few spring creeks. The trail is relatively flat and varies in width from a few feet wide to single track and has several footbridges to make creek crossings easy.

  • Distance: 1.7-mile loop
  • Trailhead: Horseshoe Lake
  • Trailhead coordinates: 37.615172, -119.021097
  • Trailhead elevation: 8,900 feet Highest point: 9,000 feet
  • Difficulty: easy

Sherwin lakes

Another local favorite dog walking spot, Sherwin Lakes is very close to town and is one of the first trails to melt out of snow in the spring months. The hike climbs more than 800 feet to the largest of the Sherwin Lakes. Views of Mammoth, the Glass Mountains, and Long Valley will be a nice respite from the constant uphill. Fido will love a sip of the cold alpine water before heading back down the trail.

  • Distance: 6.0 miles round trip
  • Trailhead: Sherwin Lakes
  • Trailhead coordinates: 37.624440, -118.945652
  • Trailhead elevation: 7,826 feet
  • Lowest point: 8,655 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate

Mammoth Creek Park – Town loop

Located on Old Mammoth Road, Mammoth Creek Park is a great starting point for a stroll on the paved town loop. The path heads east from the park to a lookout point, while offering views of the Sherwin Ridge, Laurel Mountain, and Valentine Peak. Grassy picnic areas are located on the east and west sides of the park as well as toilets, parking, dog bag dispensers, and trash cans.

  • Distance: 2.0 miles round trip (to lookout point and back)
  • Trailhead: Mammoth Creek Park
  • Trailhead coordinates: 37.636008, -118.966758
  • Trailhead elevation: 7,855 feet Lowest point: 7,700 feet
  • Difficulty: easy

Mammoth rock trail

The multi-use trail Mammoth Rock Trail is another great dog hike in Mammoth’s backyard. Named for the Mammoth’s iconic limestone monolith, the trail passes under Mammoth Rock, and offers fantastic views of the town and meadow below. Be sure to watch for mountain bikers whizzing down the trail, and groups of horseback-riders steadily climbing up.

  • Distance: 5.0 miles round trip
  • Trailhead: Mammoth Rock Trailhead
  • Trailhead coordinates: 37.628920, -118.956826
  • Trailhead elevation: 8,500 feet Highest point: 7,868 feet
  • Difficulty: moderate

Dog resources in Mammoth lakes:

Mammoth Pet, 38 Laurel Mountain Road, (760) 934-4417

Tailwaggers, 437 Old Mammoth Road, (760) 924-3400

Alpen Veterinary, 217 Sierra Manor Road, (760) 934-2291

Bishop Veterinary, 437 Old Mammoth Road, (760) 934-2287 (new location)

Pet etiquette:

Including your pet on a wilderness trip can enhance enjoyment of the experience for both parties! However, please be respectful of wildlife and other visitors. Do not let your dog chase or disturb any wildlife. Maintain control of your pet at all times and adhere to all rules and regulations regarding travel with a pet:

  • Bighorn Sheep habitat areas dogs should be kept close to you to avoid disturbing sheep.
  • When encountering pack stock, step to the downhill side of the trail and keep pets under control.
  • Dogs are not allowed if you are entering the wilderness of Yosemite or Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks at any point during your trip.
  • Please remove any dog feces from trail and dispose of as you would human waste.
  • Pet food must be secured in the same manner as required for human food. Pet food needs to be secured in campground food storage lockers or in your bear canister in areas that require the use of bear resistant food storage containers.

Camping with your dog in the Inyo National Forest:

If you are camping with your pet, please practice the following (these rules will be enforced in developed recreation areas and wilderness areas):

  • Leave vicious or unusually noisy dogs at home.
  • During the day keep your dog on a leash no more than 6 feet long, or otherwise restrict its freedom to roam at will.
  • At night keep your dogs and other pets inside an enclosed vehicle or in a tent.
  • Developed campgrounds are for people, not animals. Please do not bring more than two dogs or other pet to any one campsite.

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica’s posts here, read more of her work at and connect on twitter @monicaprelle


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