The high mountain area surrounding the town of Mammoth is as exciting in warmer months as it is when it snows. Horseshoe Lake is only a few miles from Mammoth’s town center at nearly 9,000 feet in elevation. Because the lakes and rivers are filled with snowmelt, the water is frigid in most bodies of water. With that in mind, a wetsuit and a kayak or stand up paddle board are an enjoyable way to experience the area. Drive around Lake Mary, adjacent to Horseshoe Lake, to find the Marina and rent water equipment if you don’t have your own. Additionally, Horseshoe Lake is a popular place to ride a mountain bike, run, or walk on the mile and a half dog-friendly trail around the lake, and rock climb at the lakeside crag.
Crowded as they are these days, we never get tired of hot springs in the Mammoth area. A drive around Hot Creek in search of a soak will offer views of steaming hot water measuring temperatures too hot to touch. The Hot Creek Trail is a good place to view geothermal activity in the area. Then, ask the locals how to find a tub known to provide a comfortable experience for visitors, and be prepared for a crowd.
Buckeye Hot Springs
These springs are a longer drive past Mammoth to the Bridgeport area and can be equally as crowded. They have a very steep, and slippery, approach to reach the warm water, however, these springs are right on the river. Rumor has it that local law requires clothing, here, but our experience was that not everyone follows that rule. Also, note that the water flowing from the hillside is too hot to touch, and be aware that exposing your nose and mouth to the warm, untreated water puts you at risk for a rare, but deadly, amoeba. Soak, but don’t dunk to be safest. In summary, natural hot springs are a terrible experience. Don’t go and, whatever you do, don’t tell a soul about them.
Bennettville Ghost Town Trail
Some claim this is their favorite hike in the Tioga Pass area. Covered with blooming wildflowers after the snow has melted, this abandoned mining trail is a high alpine experience. The trail follows a rushing river tumbling down small rock filled canyons and opens up after a mile and a half at what remains of the Bennettville ghost town.