Can I Hike to Mammoth Mountain’s Summit?

Home to a popular ski area, Mammoth Mountain is a lava dome complex that towers to more than 11,000 feet. It’s also a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy warm-weather activities like hiking. If part of the thrill of the hiking experience for you is climbing to the summit, you’ll be happy to know you can achieve this goal at Mammoth Mountain. Below, the mountain sports experts from ASO Mammoth, your one-stop shop for Mammoth snowboard rental, high-quality hiking gear, and tips for exploring Mammoth’s grandeur, go over the more common options for hiking either to the top of Mammoth from the bottom or from the top on down.

Make It a Round-Trip Hike

If you’re up for a more invigorating hiking experience when visiting Mammoth Mountain, you’re welcome to start from the bottom and make your way up to the top before making your way back down. A good place to start with this approach to hiking to Mammoth’s summit is at the Twin Lakes Campground.

Between campsites 39 and 40, you’ll find a signpost for Mammoth Mountain. There’s a steadily climbing road here that will take you through a scenic forest. It’s steep but still doable for most hikers if they pace themselves. You’ll then come across another signpost. At this point, you’ll have a choice between the “Easy Trail” and the “More Demanding” route. Regardless of which option you prefer, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of natural beauty and stunning views as you hike to the top.

Take a Scenic Ride to the Top & Work Your Way Down

Another way to make it to the top of Mammoth Mountain is to take a scenic gondola ride to the top. You’ll need a ticket, which can be purchased online before you get here. You can get off at the midsection, but if your goal is to start at the top, there’s a stop in this area, too. You can then hike your way down by foot to the scenic lake basin. For going down the mountain, the two main options are:

  • The Mammoth Mountain Trail – This is a wide multiuse trail by the Eleven53 Interpretive Center. It winds all the way down the mountain and offers views of nearby peaks and the San Joaquin River Valley.
  • The Dragon’s Back – With this trail, you’ll hike your way down into the forest just beyond the “Bottomless Pit” before being rewarded with a scenic natural arch down to Twin Lakes. A free shuttle is available here from Tamarack Lodge to the main village.

Tips & Final Thoughts

Even the more demanding or strenuous trails aren’t too technically difficult. There are some points along the way to the top that aren’t very well marked, but just keep working your way to the summit, and you should be fine. After you reach the plateau, enjoy the view of the Yosemite Valley. The entire hike from bottom to top and back down typically takes about 4–5 hours, although the duration will vary based on your pacing and trail options. 

If you’re looking to explore Mammoth’s natural beauty, hiking is one of the best ways to do it. When you’re ready to climb to the summit of Mammoth Mountain, you can find everything you need at ASO Mammoth, the area’s top provider of everything from hiking gear to ski rentals. Mammoth visitors can rely on us for high-quality equipment and outstanding service. Stop by when you get to the mountain or give us a call at 760-965-3444 for more information.