Winter snows can turn the roads surrounding Mammoth Lakes into a network of powder-covered trails ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The trail that follows Lake Mary Road to Horseshoe Lake is one such example.
Just beyond Twin Lakes and Tamarack Lodge, winter sees the closure of Lake Mary Road as the snow piled high atop the street becomes a highway for snow enthusiasts of all kinds. You'll see snowshoers of all ability levels heading up the trails from the road-closure along with backcountry skiers and snowboarders beginning their hikes here. Tamarack Lodge also maintains a series of groomed ski trails (day use prices range from $5-$29 as of 2017) that parallel the public access trail along Lake Mary Road and loop around other lakes and features in the area.
Being one of the most popular winter trailheads in the Mammoth Lakes area, however, means that Lake Mary Road may feel like a highway with so many people coming and going. But don't let that detract from the beauty; there is an abundance and variety of trails and backcountry opportunities available here.
The route to Horseshoe Lake follows Lake Mary Road for about 3 miles as it passes several other lakes along with views over the Twin Lakes Basin and across the valley to the White Mountains. This is scenic country, and the gradual climb - about 400 feet in all - feels as though you've left the town and are wandering through distant forests.
From Lake Mary Road, trails branch off to Panorama Dome, Lake Mary and Lake Mamie. The snow-covered hills surrounding Horseshoe Lake can make a great place to bring a lunch.
Stick to the public access side of the road. Backcountry exploration is okay provided you avoid traveling on groomed trails. From Horseshoe Lake, return on Lake Mary Road back to the road closure.
No amenities are available at the trailhead.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.