For an easy walk along the lake, go to the Mono Lake County Park (Cemetery Road, trailhead 0.5 mile east of the road) and take the boardwalk trail 0.25 mile down to the tufa formations. Wandering through the tufa will add distance to your walk, but the ground is flat and the scenery is diverting.
A lovely interpretive trail, the Tioga Tarns Nature Walk (Hwy. 120, east of Tioga Lake) spans about half a mile and includes numerous signs describing the flora, fauna, and geology of the area.
Another nature walk is the Lee Vining Creek Nature Trail (Best Western Motel, Hwy. 395, moderate). This trail follows the Lee Vining Creek, currently under restoration, returning to its natural state after decades of diversion. The total walk is about three miles and takes an hour or two, depending on how much time you spend admiring the revitalized ecosystem.
You can find any number of moderate hikes in the Mono Lake vicinity. The Lundy Canyon (Lundy Lake Rd., dirt lot at trailhead) trail can be anywhere from 0.5 mile of fairly easy walking through Lundy Canyon to a strenuous seven-mile hike all the way out to Saddlebag Lake.
Another variable hike takes you out to Parker Lake or Parker Bench (Parker Lake dirt road off Hwy. 158). This hike is a minimum of four miles round-trip, and can be 10 miles if you take the left trail fork out to Silver Lake and Parker Bench. Steep sections make this trek a bit more demanding, but you’ll love the scenic, shady trail that follows Parker Creek out the shorter right fork to Parker Lake.
If one or two lakes just aren’t enough, take the longish but only moderately tough 20-Lakes Basin Trail (Saddlebag Lake Rd., parking across from the dam). This six-mile loop trail will take you out past many of the lakes for which the basin is named. Or if you’re tired of all that water, take a moderate two-mile round-trip pilgrimage out to the remains of the mining town at Bennettville (Junction Campground Rd.). You can prowl around the abandoned mine, but be careful! Old mine shafts and abandoned buildings can be extremely hazardous.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition