McLeod Lake is one of many lakes located in the Mammoth Lakes basin. It is the western most of the basin lakes. Beyond McLeod Lake to the west is Mammoth Pass, and almost 2,000 feet below Mammoth Pass is Devil's Postpile National Monument. This is another one of those hikes that I consider when I want to hike, but I'm either short on energy or time.
The trailhead to McLeod Lake is at the Horseshoe Lake parking lot. Like the Horseshoe Lake trail, the McLeod Lake trail passes an area of carbon dioxide out gassing. The entire forest at the trailhead died in the 1990's. After a series of earthquakes caused by movement of magna below the surface, carbon dioxide came to the surface and killed all of the trees. You might ask, don't trees use carbon dioxide to photo synthesize? Yes, but the trees died at their roots. It's a stark image, but smaller trees are coming in. The question is, will the new trees survive once their roots grow deeper?
It doesn't take long for the trail to find its way into living trees. It's a pretty trail from then on, all the way to McLeod Lake. The trail is a long gradual uphill all the way to the lake.
Although there is no actual maintained trail all of the way around McLeod Lake, it isn't difficult to find your way all the way around the lake. Lots of people make their way all of the way around the lake, so there are well worn trails. In places you'll have to do some rock hopping, but nothing too difficult. I highly recommend making the loop all the way around the lake.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.