June Lake Loop, Sierra Nevada Mountains


The June Lake Loop looks tiny on the map, and in fact, it’s only 16 miles long.  But this short route packs in a lot of Sierra Nevada beauty, as well as four pristine lakes that often reflect the surrounding peaks.

The north end of the June Lake Loop (California Route 158) is on US 395, very near the intersection with Route 120 — the eastbound route to the South Tufa Area on Mono Lake, and on to Hawthorne, Nevada.  The other end of Route 158 is just a few miles away on US 395.

June Lake Loop gets off to a great start, as you leave US 395 and head directly towards Mount Gibbs, Mount Lewis, and Mount Woods, all of which top out above 12,000 feet.  Within moments…

… the road approaches the first, and largest, of the June Lake Loop’s four lakes: Grant Lake.  You might be able to find a good spot to get down near the water’s edge…

… but the road stays well above the shoreline, while skirting the edge of the mountains.  I also found Grant Lake to be much smaller than it appears on maps.  It looked like the water level was lower than normal.

Silver Lake

The second lake is, in my opinion, the most scenic.  Route 158 squeezes between Silver Lake and a mountain that towers nearly 3,000 feet above it.  A small fishing resort is also wedged in here.  In early April, it was still closed, and the row boats were locked up on the shore.  Can you imagine a more beautiful place to go for a paddle?

The Silver Lake Resort has been around since 1916.  It declares itself to be the oldest trout fishing retreat in the eastern Sierra.  In the summer months, you’ll find a restaurant, general store, cabins, and RV park here, as well as boat rentals and of course, great fishing.  Check out the resort’s website here.

The tree graffiti must be a commentary on the landscape!

Further down the loop, I discovered that June Lake isn’t just a lake, it’s a resort town, too.  There are plenty of stores and motels here, making this a good place to stop for a night.

The town of June Lake is sandwiched in between the lake of the same name, and Gull Lake.  In my quick pass through, I saw several places to view the lake, but I didn’t find a spectacular view.  I’m sure there are plenty, but unfortunately I was in a hurry.

As you return to US 395, be sure to look in your rear-view mirror for another look at the beautiful mountains.

Continuing Down 395…

… you’ll pass the turnoff to Mammoth Lakes, another mountain resort town.  Devil’s Postpile National Monument is also nearby.  I passed both, and continued south.

A few miles further south, you’ll spot Crowley Lake on the east side of US 395.  There is a scenic turnout, but it doesn’t provide a very good view of the lake.

South of Crowley Lake, you’ll pass through the dot-on-the-map of Tom’s Place.  If you have time, you should turn down Rock Creek Road, which leads to an exceptionally scenic area of mountains, lakes, and hiking trails.  Check it out on Mono County’s website.

Just before you arrive in Bishop, California, US 395 makes a steep descent into the Owens Valley.  On the way down, there’s a turnout with a good view of Mount Tom, elevation 13,652.

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