A Mammoth area mountain that hikes easily in a day, great for dogs, plentiful swimming opportunity! Probably great colors in the fall (~October).

  • Trailhead: Convict Lake Marina
  • Route: West slope, class 2. 17.5mi, 5380ft vert, 3200ft of which is cross-country
  • (5h 30min to summit) + (4h 45min down) = 10h 15min total. Extremely unrushed day with gratuitous swimming and frog-gazing breaks
  • North slopes approach to Bright Dot Lake was not nice for humans, crumbly and dirty and borderline class 3. Descended south out of Bright Dot Lake, slightly longer but much better.
  • Gaitors nice but not mandatory. Summit slopes were a lot less sandy than anticipated, pretty pleasant, use trail all the way up from Bright Dot Lake.
  • On the summit slope, stick to the left side (cliffs out to the right)

Convict Lake to Bright Dot Lake, then Baldwin via west slopes. gpx.

Trailhead at Convict Lake, with a view of Laurel Mountain behind my head

It has been a slow summer for me, I’ve mostly been mountain biking and sleeping the days away on the sunny balcony. But it seemed like this morning, daiyi woke up with the sudden notion to climb a mountain. So after breakfast, we drove 15 minutes from Mammoth to Convict Lake, and it was nearly 9am when we started hiking!

Sipping Convict Creek
Humans need to filter water, I can drink any nasty mud sauce

The problem with starting late is that it is hot. I immediately jumped in the water when the trail met back up with Convict Creek after the exposed ascent out of Convict Lake.

Starting cross-country

We tried the north slopes approach to Bright Dot Lake, despite being discouraged by Secor, because there’s other trip reports about it. We first went up the switchbacks a bit to gain elevation on trail before cutting cross-country northeast towards the streams/drainages. Cutting over was awful and bushwhacky. And then the drainages were crumbly and dirty, steep, and slippery too. Comically easy for dogs to scramble, bad for big-footed humans. Not fun, not recommended, maybe even dangerous if you’re not used to bushwhacking/third class dirt.

Crumbly slope opens up to a welcome easy scree field.

Easier cross-country brings a view of Baldwin!

Looking at Baldwin

Bright Dot Lake is crisp and clear, surprisingly no one was fishing there already.

Cooling off with a swim in Bright Dot Lake, with views of Baldwin
Rolling on the beach
Starting up the slopes
Harder to see in photos, but there's a use trail

We were surprised to run into a great use trail that pretty much goes all the way to the summit.

Partway up are the crystals mentioned by Secor, who says it was a mine (no signs of human structures though).


Aside from short sections of steep dirt, the route is pretty straightforward as far as Sierra peaks go. There’s trip reports of sloggy sand at the top, but it seemed packed pretty hard and honestly not as bad as the sand skiing of e.g. the Emerson descent or the Lone Pine Peak descent.

Summit of Mount Baldwin! With views of White Wing and Morrison
Taking a sip out of my ultralight dog bowl (it's a poo bag)

We hang out on the summit, I rest in my donut form, and then we descend.

Views of Bright Dot Lake on the descent

On the way down we try the Secor recommended access to Bright Dot Lake, which is to aim for the meadows 0.5 miles south of Mildred Lake. There’s some cairns, which lead to a choice of steep dirt slopes, or steep marble dry waterfall. The waterfall is pretty and looks fun, and is easy for climbing-trained humans to descend, but it doesn’t look great for ascending (maybe pick the dirt slopes for the way up).

Descending south, then west
Marbled dry waterfall, maybe a water slide early-season?

The slopes open up to a flat, dark plain:

Looking back, you can see the dry drainage we descending on the left
Off the mountain and into the meadow!
One last swim, in Convict Creek

Once we got to the meadow, there’s a use trail on the right side (east) that goes to Mildred Lake. Mildred Lake is beautiful and clear, a great opportunity for a swim (washing off the grime before the chill maintained trail descent). Spotted on the banks: a very tiny frog, half the size of a pinky nail!

We bomb the trail back to Convict Lake, where we met a lady who likes red heelers and took a lot of photos of me. We’re back in Mammoth before sunset. Nice day out! SPS 13 for me.