HIKE TO: Convict Lake TRAIL: Convict Lake Trail MILES: 2.57 miles TIME: 1.25 hrs DATE I WENT: 2/01/20 DIFFICULTY: easy ELEVATION: 7680 ft ELEVATION GAIN/ LOSS: 98 ft HIKE PERMIT: no PARKING PERMIT: no LOCATION: Eastern Sierra mountains near Mammoth Lakes, CA
Convict Lake is a very popular tourist destination in the Summer; the beautiful, vibrant turquoise lake color (see below) makes it a great day hike and camping area, and the campground reservations fill up fast!
In the winter though, it’s still worth visiting and just as pretty with a deep blue color. When the snow isn’t too intense, this makes for a nice, short, easy hiking trail. In fact, it’s one of the easier trails to access in the Eastern Sierra mountains in the winter season – definitely a must-stop for a trip up to Mammoth Lakes (300 miles / 4:40 hr from LA)
The convict lake trail loop is only 2.5 miles, which makes for the perfect hike for family, kids, and pets!
The trailhead starts at the boat ramp area/ Convict Lake Resort Marina Rental or you can drive half a mile south to the other end of the road where there is more parking and a bathroom (closed in the winter) and hike the trail backward from my hike. The Convict Lake Trail follows the perimeter of Convict Lake the entire time and there’s no getting lost. It has an option to extend toward Mildred Lake and Dorothy Lake, but I don’t imagine it to be easily hike-able in snow conditions.
There is little to no elevation gain on the entire trail, with only about 100 ft elevation gain/loss in total. The trail on the south end of Convict Lake can be a little sketchy if icy in the winter.
The lake does freeze over partially during harsher winter conditions and I don’t know how accessible the trail is then, so be sure to check weather conditions before you go. I went on Feb 1, Superbowl weekend, and saw only a handful of people along the trail. Although it was winter, it was a heatwave in LA that weekend with a high of 80 degrees and temps at Convict Lake were a high of 50-60 degrees!