Just outside of the vicinity of Mammoth Lakes, California about 10 miles sits a quaint quiet mountain canyon area offering all sorts of outdoor activity. This peaceful recreational area is called Convict Lake. Kayaking On Convict Lake located south of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada region is truly amazing! The reflection of the mountains off the shimmery lake surface sparkle and glimmer as I stare ahead sitting in my kayak. The still of the air, the silence of nature, and bright morning sunshine creates the perfect day to explore the area around Convict Lake.

California is known for its comfortable climate and scenic mountain landscapes. You will find some of the best family adventures in California to be in just about every corner of the state! And Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain offers amazing outdoor fun in both winter and summer seasons! So please enjoy this peaceful and beautiful kayak excursion on Convict Lake.

Convict lake resort
Convict Lake resort

Road Trip Finale

After spending the previous two days exploring mountains, hiking trails, and hot springs around Mammoth Lakes; we made a change for this final day of our weekend road trip. Kayaking Convict Lake near Mammoth Lakes is no doubt one of the highlights of our weekend road trip.

Mammoth Lakes

The History of Convict Lake

Surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine skies, Convict Lake is more than a place where the fishermen go. The history of Convict Lake is quite interesting as it relates to being a place where bad things happen. And also one of the reasons how Convict Lake got its name. It begins back in the late 1800s during the early settlement days; where a group of prisoners escaped from Nevada and made it to this lake, known as Wit-sa-nap by the Paiute.

Ah yes, the lake full of mysterious reflections and crystal clear qualities had earned other names in the early days as well. As mentioned above, the early Native Americans did call it Wit-sa-nap. This spectacular body of water covers about 180 acres and is known to be home to some of the largest and plump trout around. Another reason why this charming lake is known to be a fishing haven.

Convict Lake A Murderous Tale

Morrison Mountain

Mammoth Lakes - the best places to visit
Fishing at Convict Lake Morrison Mountain

Unfortunately their escape didn’t go as smooth as they might thought it would have as they encounter a Deputy Sheriff George Hightower. In this encounter, Posse member; Robert Morrison ends up killed. The beautiful mountains that surround the lake are named after him; Morrison Mountain. There is another strange incident that happened in the early 1990s as well. A group of teenagers and a couple counselors fell into the water while standing on a thin layer of ice. All except one teenager was able to pull himself out; it is assumed the others had drowned.

Best things to do in Mammoth Lakes
Kayaking Convict Lake

Convict Lake Today

Although these tragic events have infiltrated the memory of the community in years past, today it has blossomed into something new full of fun and adventure. It is known as a place for recreational opportunities. The opportunity for fishing, hiking, exploring, and kayaking. Convict Lake in the Sierra Nevada area is one of places that will surprise you. It is sort of a hidden gem believe it or not. 

The activities and things to do in this area of Mono County are endless including hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and backpacking. Trek your way through the Inyo and Humboldt Toiyabe National Forests that includes the John Muir trail, Ansel Adams, and Hoover Wilderness. To offer you a few nature and hiking trails to explore, I have listed a few below:

Best things to do in Mammoth Lakes

Hiking Trails

  •   Agnew/Meadow Wildflower Nature Trail          Short Trail        Map
  •   Burt Canyon Trail         Distance: 6.5 miles to Anna Lake           Map
  •  Crystal Lake Trail         Distance: 3 miles                                    Map
  •   Duck Pass Trail            Distance: 1 mile or 5 miles                      Map

You can also enjoy the 3 mile hiking trail around Convict Lake of which this trail connects to the Sierra Crest according to Wikipedia.com.

In Summary

The adventures offered in California are endless. Kayaking at Convict Lake is one of my highly recommended activities to do on your visit to the Inyo National Forest or Mammoth Lakes area. Mammoth Lakes weather is perfect when exploring in the summer. And if you are a skier, the Mammoth Lakes is one of the top ski resorts in the area. So, if you are looking for simple easy adventurous things to do this Summer, then you might wish to add Convict Lake and the Mammoth Lakes area to your itinerary. Directions: Convict Lake is approximately two miles from Highway 395 and about 15 minutes south of Mammoth Lakes.


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  1. The name alone begs for research on the naming of the lake. The views are beautiful, and though I have never been kayaking before, I would enjoy venturing out onto the calm waters of this lake to take it all in. I enjoyed reading about your experience!

    1. You nailed it, Alecia! The name is curious to me as well, and I browsed the books in the visitor center to read a few brief stories about what happened. Oh,.you would certainly enjoy kayaking or paddle boarding on this calm, serene, and peaceful lake; and mountain views to top it off. Thank you so much for reading!

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