Mono Pass Trail to Summit Lake
ElevationAscent: 1,773' 540 m
Descent: -142' -43 m
High: 12,042' 3,670 m
Low: 10,271' 3,131 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 28% (15°)
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“Climb past beautiful Ruby Lake to Summit Lake with stunning views of Little Lake Basin and the surrounding mountains.”— Lee Watts
There is a walk-in campground at Mosquito Flats that is only available for those with a wilderness permit for the next day.
I saw many dogs, but dogs-on-a-leash were a rare breed.
At 1.9 miles, there is an easy 0.25-mile lateral trail to the beautiful Ruby Lake. Good campsites can be found near the lakes outlet. I recommend one on the rocks, 30-40 feet above the trail.
From the lateral, the trail begins a steady, moderately steep climb up to the pass. This is best done as a morning run, because there is no water and very little shade between here and Summit Lake. In spite of the altitude, it can be hot in the bright sun. For the first mile, the trail switchbacks up the rocky slopes. There are extraordinary views of Ruby Lake and the steep granite cliffs of the surrounding 13,000-foot mountains, including Mt. Abbot at 13,704 feet. The trail then swings into a narrow, steep canyon that leads up to Mono Pass. Snow can linger late here and can be a significant problem.
The other side of the pass is a different world. All is barren, with decomposed granite covering the valley around Summit Lake and the gentle ridge on the west side. On the east side, steep, rocky slopes lead up to Mt. Starr. The far end of Summit Lake is only 0.5 miles and 150 feet lower than the pass. The lake is shallow and shrinks considerably after the snow has completely melted. Exposed camping is possible here, but good campsites are 1.3 miles farther at Trail Lakes.
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