view of mcleod lake

How to Hike to McLeod Lake

Here’s what you need to know about hiking to McLeod Lake in Mammoth Lakes, CA

Are you looking for a short hike with amazing views, then look no further! Hiking to McLeod Lake has it all—it’s dog friendly, straightforward, and doesn’t take all day to get to. The trail from Horseshoe Lake up to McLeod is only about a half mile with 350 feet of elevation gain. This is a great half day hiking option for folks looking to start their day off right. McLeod Lake is a great destination for Elopements, Adventure Sessions, or Families with children who are down to hike!

Note: Hiking to McLeod Lake looks different in the winter. This trail is not accessible in during winter unless you are on skis or on snowshoes.

How to Leave No Trace

Before you begin your hike, consider how you can do your best to Leave No Trace. One way is to Plan Ahead and Prepare! This could look like reviewing a map before you hit the trail, looking up this hike with a mapping service (such as Gaia GPS, AllTrails, or CalTopo) and download a map for offline use. This will make hiking to McLeod Lake more fun knowing where you’re going!

If you add snacks and water to your kit, you’re going to be even more prepared to enjoy McLeod Lake. There are many lovely places to sit and enjoy a snack to two. Please remember to pack out all your trash—including fruit skins and things considered bio-degradable! Things like orange rinds becomes more like trash than something that breaks down into the soil. Please Be Considerate of Others and save these scraps for your at home compost pile and don’t leave them along the trail.

Note about Cellphone Service: There is spotty cell phone service along the trail so you can’t rely on the map if there’s no service. If you have Verizon Wireless there is LTE at the lake. I’m unsure about other service providers.

How To Hike To McLeod Lake

The hike is all gradually uphill until you reach the lake. It is also shaded and the trail is protected from the sun for most of the way. Once you get to the top you’ll see the lake through the trees and don’t forget to admire your first view of Mammoth Crest! This view is one of my favorites and is what many people hike to this lake to see. Soak it in and enjoy!

I like to head around the lake and enjoy the views from each vantage point. This time I hiked clockwise around the lake, taking in the views and throwing sticks for Spot (my doggo) to swim after. He loves this lakes thanks to it’s long beach making it easy for him to enter.

I was here scouting spots for an Elopement the following day and was giddy with how beautiful every spot along this lake was. After hiking around for a bit, I was confident we would find the perfect spot for this couple to exchange vows surrounded by stunning beauty.

Did you know that when you elope, you get to say yes to living your dream wedding experience? If the thought of planning a wedding and being rushed through your big day makes you queasy, consider eloping. Like I said, you get to do this however you want. A lot of people elope and it’s just the two of them. Other find a way to include a few friends and family members. The plan for this McLeod Lake elopement is to hike up and exchange vows with just the two of them and then hiking back to greet their friends and family by Horseshoe Lake. What a sweet day!

If you want to learn more about planning a Mammoth Lakes Elopement, hit the contact me page and let’s start planning! McLeod Lake is an awesome spot for couples who want to hit the trail, get amazing views, and add a bit of adventure to their big day.

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Jaymie is a Mammoth Lakes & Zion Photographer. She specializes in documenting small weddings & elopements.