The Mountains Are Calling: Mammoth Lakes

Every time I drive into Mammoth Lakes, California, off of Highway 395 I feel, what I think is, a huge sense of relief. I’m not sure if it’s the crisp air, its out-of-way location, or knowing that I get to take in the geographical and spiritual bounty of the mountains for a short time.

At the end of each stay, as we pass the “Going to the mountains is going home.” sign on our drive out of own, my husband and I start to hatch a plan for how we might stay. Then we get back to the bustle of Los Angeles, our jobs, real life and it’s months before we find ourselves back in the mountains. But that doesn’t stop the daydream: What if the mountains could, one day, be real life?

In the meantime, in hopes that you’re headed to the Sierras soon, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Mammoth gems.

Stellar Brew – I have yet to have something here that isn’t delicious. Veggie quesadillas, coffee, muffins, protein smoothie, breakfast burrito, sandwich wraps–it’s all good. Next trip, I’ll be testing out the carrot cake muffin.

Booky Joint – I wouldn’t dream of heading to the mountains without a good book. So, in a book bind a few trips ago, I was thrilled to find that Mammoth has a decent independent bookstore. It’s small and quirky, with both new and used books. I picked up Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and perhaps more appropriately, The Mountains of California by John Muir.

East Side Bake Shop – We discovered this place in a roundabout sort of way: After picking up a loaf of Bake Shop owner Elizabeth McGuire’s signature Gluten-Free Seed Bread at Sierra Sundance Whole Foods, a very handy natural foods store in Mammoth, we were so impressed (try it with peanut butter and banana) that we made three attempts to pick up a few more loaves as we were heading out of town, including a stop at East Side Bakery’s off-the-beats-path location near Crawley Lake, about 15 minutes outside of Mammoth’s town. Definitely get some seed bread to fuel you on your mountain adventures, and why you’re at it, why not have a piece of pie? They look dangerously good.

Mammoth Brewing Company – Beer and mountains go together like peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and sea salt, fries and ketchup. And I hope you’ve experienced the soothing taste of a cold beer after a day in the mountain sun. There is nothing quite like it. Matt loves (I do, too) Mammoth Brewing Company’s Epic IPA, but if you don’t know what you like head to their tasting room.

McLeod Lake -This last trip up to Mammoth we focused on exploring the lakes on our stand-up paddle boards. A local told us about McLeod lake, which is about a mile hike up from Horseshoe Lake. The alpine lake has sandy shores like Lake Tahoe, breathtakingly clear and cool water (I would know, I went swimming.) and very few people. Way West Coast Tip: Get up early and go.

Toomey’s – Say yes to the coconut mascarpone pancakes. Also, the fish and carne asada tacos paired with a cold Mammoth Brewing Company Epic IPA really hit the spot after a long day outdoors. Do you have a Mammoth favorite?

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