After spending the previous day in Yosemite hiking the Mist Trail, the wife and I wanted to do a good 8-10 miler with an easy grade on the knees (to help recover). My first choices were not feasible (Tuolumne to Glen Aulin is impassable due to high creek levels and Horseshoe Lake in Mammoth is closed) so we asked the Mammoth rangers for a good hike. They suggested Sherwin Lakes, which is just south of Mammoth. With that, we were off to the races.
We followed Sherwin Lakes Road to where it became a gravel road and then became paved again. The road ends at the trailhead which is clearly marked and has a big enough parking lot. My GPS watch was not charged from the night before but I’d estimate the starting elevation was around 8000.’ Wife and I began our ascent southward. The trail switchbacked up, past some lower chaparral and through jeffrey pine groves. The incline never really exceeded 400’/mile but after a good incline hike the day before, we took our time, locking in at 2.5 mph or so. After 2 miles of switchbacks, we reached what I like to call our cruising altitude of 8500.’ We were feeling the altitude a little bit (living at the beach doesn’t really do us any favors when it comes to this stuff) but the moderate breeze and smell of pines were intoxicating. This was an undeniably fun hike. We began a small descent through a burned area towards the first of a series of small lakes – our destination for today. Sherwin Lakes glistened beneath a backdrop of various snowcapped mountains, bright blue sky, and nearby granite sentinels.
After spending 10 minutes taking in the sights, it was time to begin our walk back to the car. In the future, I would like to take this trail farther in to Valentine Lake which doubles the mileage to about 14 miles r/t or so. For today, though, this hike was just what the doctor ordered.
Mileage: ~6 miles r/t
Elevation gain: 700′ or so