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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Sherwin Lakes, CA

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Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Sierra Nevada
5 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,838 feet
Elevation Gain 836 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.78
Backpack Yes
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
8  2016-04-02 slegal
5  2015-01-25 slegal
15  2014-01-02 slegal
13  2011-12-26 slegal
6  2008-08-03 slegal
10  2007-07-06 slegal
Author slegal
author avatar Guides 74
Routes 101
Photos 2,962
Trips 56 map ( 351 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Thousand Oaks, CA
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Sep, May, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:39am - 6:01pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby

Likely In-Season!
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!

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2011-03-12 slegal
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Sherwin Lakes
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Living the life.

    Today I skied all morning and hiked the rest of the day. For me that’s living the life. When I was younger I used to go running after skiing. But as I got older, I pretty much just skied of hiked, but never both in the same day.

    Today I wanted to do both. I wanted to ski with my wife and daughter. The snow was surprisingly god, albeit thin yesterday, so I figured we would have fun. As it turned out, we did have fun up until noon, when the snow took on the consistency of a Slurpie. So off the mountain we went.

    An hour later I was on the Sherwin Lakes Trail. I brought my hiking poles again because wet ice and show is the worst kind and I anticipated some. The trail was a little worse than I expected, but I managed through it pretty well.

    I reached Sherwin Lakes quickly and had the place to myself. I saw lots of people coming down while I was heading up, but no one once I got there. Last January I walked on the frozen lake. Today the ice looked very thin and there were lots of puddles on the ice. Anyone that would walk on the ice today is a fool.

    I was much slower descending than ascending the trail. The trail was so slippery on the way down that I took my sweet time. Eventually I made it back to the trailhead. When I got into my 4Runner the thermometer said the temperature was 57 degrees outside. Small wonder why all of the snow is melting in Mammoth lakes today.
    Sherwin Lakes
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Skiing on Mammoth was pretty sub-par due to the lingering drought. I brought my hiking boots to compensate for the lack of snow. This was my second hike of the trip and there was a lot more snow on this hike than my hike earlier in the week on The Reverse Peak Trail in June Lake.

    Compared to my last winter hike on this trail, the trail was a lot more slippery this time around. There was definitely more snow this time. I slipped and fell twice on the way down.

    I really enjoyed the hike. The temperature was in the low 50s which is pretty balmy in Mammoth this time of year.

    The lake ice was solid, but I kept hearing these low pitched thumping noises from under the ice, which was a little unnerving while standing on the ice. I sat on a boulder next to the ice and ate a granola bar and the thumping noise came from under the ice in many directions about every 10-15 seconds.

    On the northeast side of the lake there was a structure made of large vertical standing logs. It was interesting and had to be a lot of work to make since many of the logs were too heavy for me to move. If we get a little relief from the drought this winter, the structure will be under water by spring.
    Sherwin Lakes
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We're up in Mammoth Lakes to go skiing. One problem. Not much snow. Fortunately I planned ahead. Hiking boots, a pack and I'm ready to go. I had never been to the Sherwin Lakes during the winter months because there is usually too much snow. There are a few exposed areas along the trail where I would really be worried about avalanches. Fortunately, with only about two inches of month old snow, I felt pretty safe from an avalanche standpoint.

    I went to see frozen lakes and that's what I got. My wife and son went skiing anyway and my daughter stayed at our condo and read all day. While on my hike my wife texted me that I was missing out. My response was simple, "No I'm not."

    The lakes were beautiful. The stream between Upper Sherwin Lake and Big Sherwin Lake was full and clear and relatively ice free. I was surprised by this.

    Right now is a great time to hike the Sierra. All roads are open, including the major passes. You get to see the Sierra like few do, in the dead of winter, with nowhere near the effort or risk that it takes to get to these spots in the middle of a normal Sierra winter.
    Sherwin Lakes
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    My son and I were in Mammoth for a father-son weekend together. We hiked to Pyramid Peak on day 1. We didn't make it all the way. On day 2 we set out for the Sherwin Lakes. As we neared the lakes we both smelled smoke. We didn't see any smoke though. Since lots of backpackers camp at the lakes I assumed it was a campfire, which is not legal, but I wasn't worried.

    After spending much time exploring the lakes we decided to make this a long hike to Valentine Lake. As we neared the John Muir Wilderness boundary, I looked behind me at my son and my heart sank. Behind my son was a plume of smoke in the direction we had to go to get off of the mountain. There is an alternate route, but that would add a lot of mileage to the hike.

    We headed back in the direction of the smoke. In hindsight it was probably a bad move, but we made it through. We didn't see any flames, but this was clearly more than a campfire somewhere off in the direction of lakes 1 or 2, where the trail doesn't go. It was very smoky all around.

    As we descended off of the mountain we passed a number of forest service firefighters heading up. We were even questioned by an investigator at the bottom, who was speaking with every person that passed by. I assume it was campers that started the fire and I suspect that the campers were long gone and didn't even know that they started a forest fire.

    We headed back to our condo to clean up and pack up. A couple hours later as we were leaving town we looked up and saw that the lakes area was fully engulfed in flames. It took a week to put the fire out. I later learned that both routes out were blocked by the fire. Had we not gotten out of there when we did, a helicopter would have had to rescue us as was the case with a number of people trapped at Valentine Lake. I'm glad I turned around and saw the smoke. It's the reason we turned around instead of proceeding onto Valentine Lake.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Mammoth Lakes take Old Mammoth Road south to Sherwin Creek Road and turn left. Sherwin Creek Road is a dirt road. After about 1.4 miles on Sherwin Creek Road turn right onto a smaller dirt road. There will be a sign advising that the right turn will take you to the Sherwin Lakes trailhead. Another sign will tell you to turn left onto another dirt road which will quickly dead end into the parking area for the trailhead.
    page created by slegal on Mar 12 2011 12:38 am
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

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