Blue Diamond Trails
This trail system starts just behind the Mammoth Lakes visitors center and winds through 25 miles of Mammoth forest land, predictably marked by signs bearing a blue diamond on the trees. Blue Diamond Trails (www.mammothdirect.com) are not groomed, so be prepared to deal with varying snow conditions and unbroken trails. However, there’s plenty of relatively flat land here for beginners.
The Shady Rest Trails (off Hwy. 203 just before visitors center) might sound like a cemetery, but in fact they are beginners’ loops with plenty of shade trees that keep skiers cool through their exertions.
The Knolls Trail (Mammoth Scenic Loop 1.5 miles north of Hwy. 203) makes a good intermediate day out, passing through lovely stands of Jeffery and Lodgepole pines.
If you’re up for a serious expert trek, try the Earthquake Fault Trail (Minaret Rd., unlabeled parking lot before Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge). Expect steep descents, unused areas, and narrow paths along this approximately 12-hour trail.
Beginners beware of the deceptively named Scenic Loop Trail (Mammoth Scenic Loop across from Knolls Trail); this reasonably short trail (about four miles) includes steep descents and some more difficult terrain.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition