Name of trip:
Mammoth and Laurel Lakes Trip
Steve and wife Kristin
2005 Sportsmobile 4x4 V10
Miles per gallon:
too much $4.19-$4.65/gal
short one around Laurel Lakes
2 days at Convict Lake and an hour at Laurel Lakes
Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza
Offroad Trails Taken:
Laurel Lakes and Convict Lake
Black Bear at/in Convict Lake
BBQ Ribeye, Pulled Pork Nachos at Festival
Not enough time
This is the start of the Laurel Lakes Trail. The weather was beautiful, sky was blue and we headed up at 6:30PM. The trailhead is just a few miles from Mammoth proper and the distance to the lakes was just 4 ½ miles, but with stops took about an hour.
Airing down the tires to 30lbs proved helpful on the loose rock toward the end of the trail.
The trail was easy at the beginning.
The views were stunning.
Taking the advice of others, I took all the switchbacks wide and encountered no problems, and no need to reverse. For the famed last switchback that descends on the upper Laurel Lake, I got out to survey the scene.
I am proud to report that I was able to do the final switchback with only a three point turn. The key was to take it very wide even though it was a bit off-camber.
The van handled flawlessly. However, this part of the trail is not for the faint of heart. What the photo doesn’t show is the 2-300’ or so drop-off down to the lake. The lake is so beautiful and when you come this far, you just have to do it. Since I have offroaded quite a bit in my Jeep I was fine with this. However, there was loose rock and some dirt that caused slipping toward the downhill slope, even with the brake firmly pressed to the floor. I made a quick right turn after the reverse and headed down to the lake.
No one was there so we had the entire lake to ourselves. We setup camp right at the shore, put up the top and made some great margaritas.
The next morning a few fisherman and hikers showed up as well as a group of guys on dirtbikes. But still there were less than 15 people. We awoke to beautiful weather and enjoyed the lake with a short hike and an hour of fishing.
This is not me but a lone fisherman in a float tube.
Here is the 2-300’ drop off. You can barely see a Toyota FJ coming down the hillside.
By early afternoon we broke camp and headed out. There were a few small boulders where we camped that I had to move but then we were on our way.
The ascent to that famed switchback. I cut it too wide so I had to back up a few feet and try again. I was able to do a 3 point turn again. I was told by a few who have done this that for some it takes a 10 or 20 point turn. I celebrated our accomplishment to two ATV riders and 1 dirtbike rider giving me the thumbs up and proclaiming, “way to go man.” They likely never saw a Sportsmobile, and coming up Laurel Lakes no less.
Here are the views as you descend back down to Mammoth
What a wonderful trip. I highly recommend it. This rivaled some of the sights on my big road trip last summer, such as Lake Louise and Morraine Lake in Canada. What was better about Laurel Lakes was the seclusion, the challenge to get there, and the incredible beauty right here in California and only a few miles from Mammoth.
We then headed to Convict Lake for two days of fishing with campground camping and attending the Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza. What a way to cap off the weekend. We will definitely be going back soon.