Duck Pass Trail

by Shawn Williams

Several interesting trails in this area offer a variety of hikes beginning behind Coldwater Campground. Climbing over Duck Pass to join the John Muir trail, the Duck Pass trail climbs the forested hillside behind Coldwater Campground and goes past Arrowhead, Skelton, and Barney lakes before going over Duck Pass. A side trail to Emerald Lake offers an alternate route to Skelton Lake or the option of a loop past Barret Lake returning to the west side of Lake Mary. Common destinations beyond Duck Pass include Duck Lake, with an intense, deep-blue color, and nearby Purple Lake.

Common Destinations: Duck Lake, Purple Lake, John Muir Trail

Download  area map for trail names.
To purchase more detailed maps or guidebooks of the area, visit

At a Glance

Current Conditions:
Reservations: Reserve wilderness permits up to 6 months in advance at the Inyo National Forest Wilderness Permit Page
Rentals & Guides:  Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit is located near Mammoth Lakes Basin offers day rides and mule pack trips (888) 475-8747
Permit Info:
  • Wilderness permit required year round for overnight trips.
  • Day use does not require permit.
  • May 1 through November 1 overnight visitors are limited to 30 people per day.
  • No campfires in Coldwater Canyon, Duck Creek or Purple Lake; and no campfires at all locations above 10,000 ft.  Maps of Campfire Restrictions.
  • Food, trash and scented items must be stored in bear proof containers
  • No camping within 300 ft. of the outlet of Duck Lake or Purple Lake.
  • Emerald Lake trail and the trail to Ram Lake are not recommended for stock.
  • Groups cannot be larger than 15 people.
  • John Muir Wilderness regulations.
Closest Towns:
  •  Mammoth Lakes, CA (Full Service, Hospital)
Water: Water from creeks, lakes and springs should be treated before drinking.
Restroom: Flush toilet at trailhead. Please Leave No Trace. Bury human waste or pack it out.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Leave Hwy 395 at Mammoth Lakes, Hwy 203 and follow Lake Mary Road past Lake Mary. Follow the signs to Coldwater Campground. The trail leaves from behind Coldwater Campground.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Lake and Pond Fishing

River and Stream Fishing

Day Hiking


Horse Camping

Horse Riding

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

  Elevation : 
9,128 ft. at trailhead - 10,814 ft. at Duck Pass