Duck Lake Peak (12077 ft / 3681 m), Mammoth Lakes Area
August 22, 2007
If you have done the Duck Lake day hike several times already, consider adding a visit to Duck Lake Peak next time. This peak offers great views of Duck and Pika Lakes, and of the Silver Divide range to the west, and unique perspectives of Bloody Lake and Bloody Mountain to the east. Many other points on the Sierra Crest and in the Ritter Range can be easily identified from the top. Never heard of "Duck Lake Peak"? Well, we made the name up. I am referring to the highest peak above Duck Lake, east-northeast of the lake's shallow north shore. The peak doesn't have an official name. It is marked as [Peak] 3681-T on newer, metric USGS maps (12077 feet). There is no trail to the top, but you can come up with your own cross country rock-hopping route. Reserve about two hours for the 1600 ft ascent starting at Duck Lake, and about an hour or so for the return trip to the lake. (If you are on a day hike from Mammoth, keep in mind that you will need several additional hours to get back to the trailhead parking lot at Lake Mary).
The last picture in this report (below) identifies "Duck Lake Peak" as seen from Duck Lake Pass, and shows some possible routes to its summit. We added another variation to the trip, and reached the Duck Lake basin via Woods Lakes Pass. Yes, another made up name for an unnamed pass over the Mammoth Crest above Woods Lakes. It is just fine if you use the standard approach via the Duck Lake Pass, and leave the trail only after you can clearly see your objective, the attractive and rarely visited Duck Lake Peak and its summit 3681-T.
We started a few minutes after 10 o'clock in the morning from the parking lot at the Coldwater Campground trailhead near Lake Mary, and were back at about 7 o'clock in the evening. This was a roughly twelve mile loop (19-20 km), of which about one third was off trail, with an elevation gain of about 3000 feet (915 meters). A pleasant day in the mountains.
Ritter and Banner from a ridge between Barney and Woods Lakes. Skelton Lake in forefront. We left the Duck Lake trail just below Barney Lake, and scrambled over the ridge to the Woods Lakes side.
Upper Woods Lake from the ridge. The higher you cross the ridge, the easier it is to reach the top of the Woods Lakes Pass.
View back from near the top of the Woods Lakes Pass.
From a meadow on the other side of the pass, we see Duck Lake Peak...
Sharktooth Peak on the Silver Divide, seen across Duck Lake.
A bit closer to Duck Lake Peak. But we are first heading to the saddle left of the peak.
Nice view from the saddle to the other side: An unnamed peak above Valentine Lake (left frame), Laurel Mountain (center of the right frame) and the reddish north slopes of Bloody Mountain behind a nearby ridge.
Plenty of interesting talus on the way to the top. The blocks are smaller if you stay somewhat below the ridge.
Windy day. (Duck Lake, 10466 ft).
View southeast, along the Sierra Crest: Red Slate Mountain with its northwest slope snowfield.
More peaks to the southeast. A lake in the upper Purple Creek basin is barely visible (upper left corner).
At the top of Duck Lake Peak. We didn't find any register. We'll bring one next time.
At the top, 12077 feet (3681 meters).
Pika Lake and Duck Lake (left frame), Mammoth Crest (right frame).
Both Duck Lake Pass (10794 ft) and Woods Lakes Pass (10925 ft) are visible near the center of the right frame.
Family photo with Bloody Mountain in the background.
Looking southwest onto Woods Lakes Pass (left edge) and parts of the Mammoth Crest. Ritter Range and Minarets in the background.
Peaks on the ridge between Duck Lake and Purple Lake. Silver Divide on the horizon.
View southeast from the summit of Duck Lake Peak.
Bloody Lake and Bloody Mountain from Duck Lake Peak.
Last photo before we start our descent.
Half way down towards Duck Lake.
At the Duck Lake Pass. Shadows are getting longer.
One last view of Duck Lake Peak. Our route up from Woods Lakes Pass is indicated in red. On our way back (blue) we stopped along the shore of Duck Lake to refill on water.