Groomed trail
Yes
Elevation Gain
?
Distance
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Warming hut
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Inyo Craters lie near the summit of Deer Mountain off of Mammoth Lakes' Mammoth Scenic Loop Road. A popular summer hike, the gently rolling road to the craters is groomed during the winter months and makes one of the more popular winter trails outside of the town. 

The Inyo Craters are among the southernmost of the larger Mono-Inyo Crater chain, a series of volcanic domes and explosion pits from activity ranging from 500 to 5,000 years ago. 

During the warmer seasons, a mineral-colored lake sits at the base of the craters, the deeper of the two craters having a depth of about 200 feet. The winter, however, brings freezing temperatures and lots of snow to the craters, and those brilliant colors are replaced by a white sheet.

Winter snowpack turns Dry Creek Road into a popular route for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers. And while the roar of snowmobiles along the route may get annoying, the path to the craters leaves the busier road and heads into dense and steep forest. 

One option is to try to parallel the summer trail to the craters; however, winter usually buries all signs of this trail along with any trail markers. It may be possible to follow tracks from other skiers or blue blazes that mark the trail to Deer Mountain. 

Another option is to follow the sign pointing to the snowmobile road, which cuts directly up a steep incline to the craters. This route is steep, slick, and may not be optimal for skis.

The craters are about 2 miles out, and upon reaching them the narrow forest roads open up to large skies over the the 600-foot long crater with clear views of Deer Mountain. 

Be careful, as snow tends to cover the fencing meant to keep visitors back from the sheer edges. You can head back the way you came or try to head down the route you didn't take up and add some variation to your trek.

There are no amenities of any kind along the trail. All amenities are available in the town of Mammoth Lakes.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Scenic. Mixes rolling terrain with backcountry opportunities.

Cons

Roads used by snowmobiles.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

7,976.00 ft (2,431.08 m)

Net Elevation Gain

230.00 ft (70.10 m)

Features

Snowshoeing
Big vistas

Trail type

Loop

Snowmobiles allowed

Yes

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California
Eastern Sierra + White Mountains Area, California

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