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.


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At a Glance

Reservations: Reserve up to 6 months in advance at
Day use does not require a permit.
Rentals & Guides:  Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit is located near Mammoth Lakes Basin.
Permit Info: Wilderness permit is required year round for overnight trips in John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Usage: Light
  • No campfires in Coldwater Canyon, Duck Creek or Purple Lake; and no campfires above 10,000 ft. see Maps of Campfire Restrictions.
  • Bear containers are required for storage of food and trash.
  • 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.
  • Quota of 30 people permitted to start overnight trips each day from May 1 to November 1.
  • John Muir Wilderness regulations apply
Closest Towns:  Mammoth Lakes
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: For wilderness permit information call (760) 873-2483; or for area information call the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center (760) 924-5500

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.

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  Latitude : 

  Longitude : 

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


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