With no real plan in mind (per usual), we decided to head to Mammoth for the 4th of July weekend. Having never taken the time to really explore the mountain, we did know one thing for sure...Mammoth is very dog friendly and family oriented. For those that love to ski, you may already be familiar with their many ski runs. In the summer, those similar runs are turned over to the mountain bikers. And if it was a snowy winter, then you may have the privilege to both ski and mountain bike like so many over this holiday weekend.

While most National Parks and Monuments do not allow dogs on the trails, Devils Post Pile National Monument is the exception. An easy hike with about a 700-feet elevation gain, hiking to Devils Post Pile and then on to Rainbow Falls is beautiful and worth it for the views.

The naturally occurring geological formation that is Devils Pot Pile is fascinating and can be experienced form the bottom and top of the pile. From the bottom you can see firsthand the magnitude of the pillars as they lay broken along the trail. From the top, you can see the hexagon, tile-like pattern of each pillar still attached as well as the panoramic view of the valley.

Part of this hike criss-crosses the JMT and PCT. A short detour away from Devils Post Pile onto the JMT you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the San Joaquin River; beautiful scenery for the landscape photographer in all of us.

Back on the trail to Rainbow Falls you can see the signs of new growth amongst the charred remains from the 1992 Rainbow fire; an area that is still decades away from recovering fully. As you reach the falls be sure to stop at each lookout point as the sun can be seen in the spray from different perspectives hopefully giving you a glimpse of that lucky arched sign. The view at the bottom does come with a steep stair climb down, unfortunately over the weekend that area was closed. Fortunately for my hiking companions, that area was closed.

When it comes time to cooling off, each lake at Mammoth mountain can be easily accessed for kayaking, SUP-ing, and fishing. For you four-legged companions, Horseshoe lake allows dogs to be off-leash and fancy free.

If your looking to keep things easy, another great hike for you and your best friend is around Convict Lake. Less than three miles round trip with some easy access points for wading in the water.

If crowded lakes aren't your thing, you can head out to find your own hot spring right off of highway 395 just south of Mammoth Lakes. Though, be prepared to off road a bit and know that not all hot springs are created equal...some are just created by man and can be a bit slimy and smelly.

And of course if you're just into relaxing with breathtaking scenery, then there is plenty of time and opportunity to be amongst the piney trees...where you might also find the occasional bear passing through.

Until next time...