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Duck Pass Trailhead to Duck Lake
6 Photosets

2019-08-09  
2018-09-19  
2015-08-06  
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2015-06-21  
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mini location map2018-09-19
17 by photographer avatarOregon_Hiker
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Duck Pass Trailhead to Duck LakeSierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Hiking avatar Sep 19 2018
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking10.30 Miles 2,151 AEG
Hiking10.30 Miles   9 Hrs   31 Mns   1.08 mph
2,151 ft AEG
 
1st trip
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Wow, another amazingly beautiful hike in the Eastern Sierras, and also the last one on my tour of trailheads traveling north on US395. The Duck Pass trailhead is on the south end of the Coldwater Campground where I hoped to stay if it was still open this late in the season. It was open but planned to close on Sept 23. This is a huge CG with the feel of a small city so if you're looking for mountain solitude, this is not the place. If the hike to Duck Pass hadn't been so highly recommended I probably would have turned around and gone elsewhere. Finding a campsite without a reservation was somewhat difficult. A few unreserved campsites were marked with signs saying One Night Only and even fewer had signs that said Available 14 Nights. After asking for help help from a kind CG host I was directed to site #49, a great unreserved 14 nighter that would accommodate me for 3 nights, was screened from other sites by trees and backed up to a meadow with a stream running through it. Plus it was within easy walking distance of the Duck Pass TH and there were flush toilets. :y:

The hike the next day started out through forest switchbacking up a steep slope with not much in the way of views. But it then leveled off in a small basin with a string of small lakes leading up to the final steep switchbacks up to Duck Pass. Arrowhead Lake is the first Lake on this route but I chose not to take the side trail to the lake since I knew there would be several lakes closer to the trail. The first of these and one of the larger in this basin is Skelton Lake. With white sand beaches on the trail side and a rocky cliff topped bluff that drops into the other side it is quite striking. The trail continues past small meadows and a stream then climbs over a low hill where it descends a short distance to Barney and Red lakes, each one different and beautiful. Past Barney Lake the trail starts to switchback up a steep boulder strewn slope and threads its way along ledges and through gaps in the cliffs to finally reach Duck Pass. The construction of this trail is a marvel in itself and the views back towards Mammoth Mountain are amazing. Duck Lake comes into view immediately upon reaching the other side of the pass. It's large for a high mountain lake and I decided to continue on the trail to the south end of the lake which added about 2 miles round trip to the hike but was well worth it. After a short nap at the south end of the lake interrupted by a group of backpackers passing by, I headed back taking a side trail that went by bright green Emerald Lake. It was a worthwhile detour that added little if any distance to the hike.



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522 Photosets

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