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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.

Duck Pass Trailhead to Duck Lake, CA

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Guide 7 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Sierra Nevada
3.7 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,138 feet
Elevation Gain 1,700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.5
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
30  2019-08-09
Pika Lake
17  2018-09-19 Oregon_Hiker
20  2015-08-06 slegal
15  2015-07-01 John9L
11  2015-06-21
Consolidated Mine Trail
73  2013-07-19 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   Jul, Aug, Sep, Jun → Early
Seasons   Summer
Sun  5:39am - 6:01pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
something to quack about
by slegal

Likely In-Season!
I’ve spent a lot of time hiking out to the Coldwater Creek Campground parking lot. There are three trailheads out of this parking lot. If you want the maximum number of lakes on one hike, then the Duck Pass trailhead is the trail for you. If you take the trail all of the way to the top of Duck Pass you are guaranteed to see at least 7 lakes.

The trail begins heading uphill quickly with a series of switchbacks for the first mile or so before leveling out a little. To your left the slope falls off steeply toward Coldwater Creek. You can’t see the creek, but you can hear it. Also to the left is a trail to Arrowhead Lake. The Duck Pass Trail does not get that close to Arrowhead Lake, but you can get a glimpse of it through the forest.

The next lake that you pass is Skelton Lake. The trail passes much closer to this lake and affords some very nice views of the lake.

Shortly after passing Skelton Lake the trail heads up some switchbacks and passes above the 10,000 foot elevation. After a brief flat section of trail, the trail descends to Barney Lake and Red Lake. These lakes have a different color to them because they have a considerable amount of dissolved minerals, making the water a light opaque turquoise color.

The trail crosses the creek that runs between the two lakes and then heads toward the 700 vertical foot ascent to Duck Pass. The ascent at first glance appears very sterile - lots of rock and very little vegetation. However, as you begin the climb you should see lots of wildflowers, particularly columbine. Another thing that you may marvel about is how well hidden the trail is to people looking at it from below. It kind of reminds me of the Yosemite Falls trail which can’t be scene from below.

The trail tops out at just about exactly 10,800 feet. Once at the top of the pass you are greeted with a spectacular panoramic view of Duck Lake and Pika Lake. I found a great vista point just beyond the Pika Lake sign to take photos and have a snack.

I found the trip back down the switchbacks from Duck Pass to Barney Lake to be a little tricky. The trail is all rock with lots of opportunities to twist an ankle or trip and fall. Add the fatigue factor from the climb up and it is worth being a little extra cautious on this section of trail.

When you reach the top of the switchbacks from the beginning of the hike you are greeted with a view of Lake Mary through the trees – a sure sign that the hike is almost over. Once finished, the hike is just over 8 miles.

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2013-07-20 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
    Duck Pass Trailhead to Duck Lake
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pika Lake
    Went to Mammoth to meet up with some other obnoxious hikers. Not much of a campground lover, we snagged a permit and headed into the John Muir Wilderness. A great night was spent at Pika Lake with some additional random exploring in nearby areas. It was a little breezy in exposed places and the night temps dropped into the mid 30s. It was a nice respite from August in Arizona.

    We spent the next night with the obnoxious group in Mammoth Lakes and a yearling bear kept visiting. It destroyed one empty tent for a single m&m, and while not at all confrontational with people, it was also pretty ballsy. I'd be surprised if they don't put it down before the summer is over. :cry:

    Sunday morning we headed out for perseids and hot springs. I didn't realize this area is a caldera like Yellowstone on a smaller scale. A lot of warm water coming out of the ground. Probably the most scenic hot spring I've ever soaked in.
    Duck Pass Trailhead to Duck Lake
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Claire and I headed up to Mammoth Lakes on Tuesday and got settled in that evening. On Wednesday morning we picked up our permits for backpacking the next day and then wanted to do a moderate day hike. After researching HAZ we picked Duck Lake because of the proximity and the length. Also, I was on the JMT two years ago and camped about a mile below Duck Lake so I was already aware of it.

    We started hiking from the Coldwater Creek Campground day parking area around noon and the trailhead sits at roughly 9,000 ft elevation. The trail immediately starts gaining elevation and we entered the John Muir Wilderness. We continued on and took a short detour over to Arrowhead Lake. From there we continued hiking under overcast skies but no threat of rain. Next up was Skelton Lake which is another picturesque lake where we stopped and took pics.

    We continued on and passed Barney Lake and could see Duck Pass roughly 400 vertical ft above us. The trail is in excellent condition and switchbacks it's way up to the pass that sits at 10,800 ft. Once on top Duck Lake came into view. It's another magnificent lake. We decided to drop down to the lake to take our lunch. It was easy going as we descended a few hundred ft and we took our break at a lookout over the lake. It's a beautiful day and our view cannot be beat!

    After lunch we headed back up to the pass and then started our return. On the way back we decided to detour over to Emerald Lake. This is a small but intimate lake surrounded by mountains. From there it was roughly a mile back to the trailhead. This was a nice hike and was perfect for getting us acclimated before our backpacking trip the next day.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the town of Mammoth Lakes, take Lake Mary Road to the lakes. Turn left onto Lake Mary Loop Road. When the road rounds Lake Mary at the eastern end of the lake the road reaches the Coldwater Creek Campground. Turn left into the campground and head up the campground road all the way to the parking lot at the end of the road. The Duck Pass Trailhead is at the eastern end of the lot.
    page created by slegal on Jul 20 2013 3:50 pm
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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