The Sherwin Lakes are located on the north side of the Sherwin Ridge. The location of the lakes can be easily seen from the town of Mammoth Lakes. The lakes are higher than the town, so you can't see the lakes from town.
The trailhead starts out in chaparral and the base of the mountain. After a short walk from the parking area the trail crosses a bridge over Sherwin Creek and enters a pine forest. From this point on it's almost all uphill.
Much of the trail is under trees. However, about half way up the trail the trail loses the forest and heads through an open slope of Manzanita. The Manzanita is some of the taller Manzanita for the Mammoth Lakes area, but is still only about waste high. On warm summer days this lengthy exposure to the sun is not overly welcome. Fortunately, the trail gets back into the forest again until the trail flattens out and reaches a long straight section.
The long straight section is in a grooved channel in the knoll that it is located. It almost seems manmade, but there are no roads here and there is no evidence of mining activity in the immediate area, so I don't think is it manmade. Just east of the Sherwin Lakes there are a couple of large glacial moraines, and this doesn't look anything like those moraines, so I don't think it's a moraine either. I guess I just have to be satisfied with not being able to explain it.
Soon the trail begins to climb again and wraps around a small hill for the final approach to the largest of the Sherwin Lakes. While wrapping around the hill the trail passes two smaller lakes, but these lakes are not on the trail and are not visible from the trail. The largest of the Sherwin Lakes is right next to the trail. If you pass the lake there is a well worn path that heads due south along the eastern edge to the lake and heads straight toward the second large lake behind the one along the main trail.
The real gem in this bunch is above the back lake. There is a beautiful small lake that requires a short scramble up alongside a small waterfall. The lake is turning into a meadow as it fills with sediment. However, the benefit of this silting of the lake is that the surface water is usually quite smooth and reflective, even on windy days.
If you head back to the main trail and continue on to the southeast, the trail will take you to Valentine Lake. This is a considerably longer and more strenuous hike. But that is for a different hike description. Enjoy!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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