Hike up to Hopkins Lake

View of Big McGee Lake from Hopkins Pass

Getting in a couple more backpacking trips before it gets too cold. This weekend Sadie, Piton and I went up McGee Creek just a couple canyons down from Mammoth Lakes. It took us seven hours to hike to 11,100 ft camp along an eight mile, 3500 ft gain trail and three and a half hours back. [Map]

From the McGee Creek Trailhead, the trail was open, exposed and hot even in 71 F weather.

Open trail along the coloring canyon

That is until you get into the coloring aspen forest.

Hiking through the aspen forest

The trail is a steady grade all uphill except some specific steeper sections that slowed us down. However, it seemed quickly (by perception) that we reached the Big McGee Lake turn off.

Big McGee Lake from trail

From here the Hopkins Pass trail changed from a beaten hiking trail to a faint use trail. Reaching Little Hopkins Lake, we decided not to descend the 1500 ft to the projected campsite on the other side of Hopkins Pass and instead setup at 11,100 ft in Little Hopkins Lake all tucked away by ourselves.

Little Hopkins Lake and our tent

Still, I wanted to see the view from Hopkins Pass, so I followed the cairn’d trail up 400 ft to the Pass. It was decently steep and loose from the direct approach which would have been interesting with backpacks.

That is when our friend Leo literally ran into us on his long run through the mountains that crossed over Hopkins Pass. He and their house dog Mica came tromping to say hi for one of those small world moments after recognizing our dog Piton’s intensely loud bark.

After a warn tent night on a chilly evening, we woke up the next morning to some alpine glow and the smell of forest fire in the air. Packing up right as light reached our tents we made it out very quickly down to the car.

Hiking down from Hopkins Lake.