Located a few miles west of the bustling ski/vacation resort of Mammoth Lakes, the Agnew Meadows trailhead offers peace and quiet, quick access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the Sierra, as well as an easy approach to some of the range's most revered peaks. Banner Peak, Mt. Ritter, and the Minarets are all easily reached out of this trailhead via the River Trail/Shadow Lake trail/Pacific Crest Trail (south). San Joaquin Mountain and Mt. Davis can also be climbed from the same trailhead, via the Agnew Pass/Pacific Crest Trail (north).
Developed camping is available at the trailhead, as well as nearby along Minaret Summit Road. Accommodations, food, and Starbucks are all available in nearby Mammoth Lakes.
From US395, head west on SR 203 through Mammoth Lakes, and turn right on Minaret Summit Road towards Mammoth Mountain ski resort. Drive to Minaret Summit, and continue another 2.6 miles to where the road makes a hairpin turn south. Turn right here along a dirt road to reach the trailhead/campground.
Be forewarned that the road is closed to passenger vehicles from Minaret Summit onwards during the day. See the red tape section below for details.
Permits and Red Tape
Wilderness permits are required for overnight stays in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. Please consult the main Ansel Adams Wilderness page
for details on obtaining permits for the Shadow Lake and Pacific Crest trails. No permits are required for dayhikes.
Shadow Lake and Lake Ediza are extremely popular backpacking destinations, and camping restrictions apply. Current regulations and no-camping zones are posted along the trail.
Minaret Road (SR 203) is closed to passenger vehicles beyond Minaret Summit from 7am to 7.30pm each day. Between those times, visitors are required to ride a shuttle bus ($7/person) from the Mammoth Mountain Inn into Devils Postpile National Monument. (See here
for details). The gates are unmanned outside these hours, and it is possible to drive in if you need to get an early start. The shuttle bus runs throughout the valley; it's worth noting that the bus can be ridden for free within here, even if you've driven in, allowing for convenient shuttles between trailheads.
If you exit the Reds Meadow area when the gates are manned, you must pay the same per-person fee. Note that despite the fact that the area is managed by the NPS, NPS park passes are not accepted here! If this offends you, as it does me, it's possible to turn left before the gate to reach the Minaret Vista point, and then exit from the vista point on the other side of the gate, avoiding the attendant altogether.
When To Visit
The trailhead is most easily reached in the summer months (and moreover, most easily done so in early morning or late at night--see the red tape above for details).
Minaret Summit Road is closed from the middle of October until sometime in the spring, typically around late May or early June depending on the winter's snowfall. During these months, it is necessary to park at Mammoth Mountain ski resort (you must obtain a special parking permit from the resort if parking there overnight), and hike in about 4 miles to the usual summer trailhead.
External LinksInyo National Forest - Reds Meadow area campgrounds
SR 203 road conditions
NPS Devils Postpile National Monument information
climber.org driving directions