The Quick and Dirty:
Location: Devils Postpile National Monument is located close to Mammoth Lakes resort, the drive time to the trail head was approximately 6 hours from Orange County. Park your car at the Village in Mammoth Lakes and take the Reds Meadow/Devils Postpile shuttle bus service ($7/person RT) to the Devils Postpile trail head.
Distance: ~6.5 miles to the entrance of the Minaret lakes, there’s about 2 additional miles of unmaintained trail to explore once you’ve reached the lakes. 13 miles roundtrip.
Difficulty: Easy, total elevation gain of about 2500ft over 6.5 miles
Best Time: summer and fall
Duration: 3.5 hours at a leisure stroll to the lake
Permits: Wilderness permits are required for all overnight stays. Permits can be obtained at recreation.gov. Keep in mind, this is a popular trail, daily quotas fill quickly.
Dogs: Dogs are allowed on the shuttle and trail, however, they do require dogs to wear a muzzle on the shuttle.
To access the Minaret Lake, our group of 6 backpackers started at the Devils Postpile trailhead early Saturday morning. The trailhead was relatively crowded with day hikers but they quickly disappear by taking the turnoff to see the Devil’s Postpile. The first couple miles of the trail overlaps with the John Muir Trail (JMT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The trail splits off with the JMT at the edge of Johnston Meadow in the Ansel Adams Wilderness and follows the Minaret creek until we reached the lakes.
It took us awhile to find a good campground around the lake, there wasn’t many flat spots that could hold 3 tents. By the time we finally found a good campsite, the clouds started rolling in. Fortunately, the storm quickly passed us after a few light sprinkles and spared us of a rainy afternoon.
We stopped by the upper and lower Devil’s Postpile on our way out. It’s definitely worth the detour, such a majestic sight!