The hike from Lake George to Barrett Lake and TJ Lake is an easy short outing. This hike is ideal for families with small children or if you want to acclimate after arriving in the Mammoth Lakes area. The well-maintained trail visits first Barrett Lake and if you press on leads to the more scenic TJ Lake at the base of imposing Crystal Crag. Both lakes are also very popular for fishing.
Overall, the hike from Lake George to Barrett Lake and TJ Lake totals to about 2 miles round-trip with 350 feet of elevation gain.
From the Lake George parking lot (~9,000’) find the sign pointing to Barrett Lake and TJ Lake near the northern end of the campground. Take the trail through the campground and along the eastern shore of the lake. Soon you will cross the gurgling outlet stream of Lake George over a small wooden bridge. The trail continues to follow the southern shoreline for a short ways before turning in a southerly direction and climbing rather steeply along the eastern side of the inlet stream into an open pine forest. In season, the wildflowers are amazing along the stream. After a short and steep ascent the trail crosses the stream and leads in a few switchbacks and at a moderate steepness to Barrett Lake (~9,300’). Here, you can relax a bit and enjoy the scenery. If time and energy permits you should continue on Lake Barrett’s western shore until a trail junction to Emerald Lake. This trail connects eventually to trails originating from the Coldwater Campground at Lake Mary. The trails in this area are quite sandy from the heavy use of horse-packs coming from Lake Mary. At the junction the trail towards TJ Lake is more or less straight and climbs a small ridge overlooking the lake. At the ridge a very short descent brings you to the shoreline of TJ Lake (~9,300’) with towering Crystal Crag immediately above and even higher Mammoth Crest behind. There is a well-worn use trail on the eastern shore of TJ Lake leading to its southern end. The scenery at TJ Lake invites you to linger and relax. Cross-country climbs start from the western side of TJ Lake to the saddle southwest of Crystal Crag and further to Crystal Lake. From TJ Lake you can retrace your steps or hike directly along the outlet stream of TJ Lake on its northern end to Lake George. At Lake George turn right (east) and take a short path to the campground for a nice short loop. From TJ Lake you can also hike back to Barrett Lake and circle the lake on its eastern shore and a very good use-trail to the outlet of Barrett Lake. From there continue down to Lake George on the trail you came up.
From the town of Mammoth Lakes drive west and follow the Main Street past Old Mammoth Road (going left, south) and Minaret Road (going right, north). The street changes its name to Lake Mary Road. Follow the road up the southeastern slopes of Mammoth Mountain to the Lower Mammoth Lakes basin. Twin Lakes are the first lakes you will see. Stay left and follow the road past Twin Lakes. At the sign for Horseshoe Lake make a right turn, and then a left turn at the signs to Lake George. You can also follow the Lake Mary Road all the way around Lake Mary, which will intercept the road going to Lake George. There is a parking area at Lake George.