Just outside of Mammoth Lakes is the small town of June Lake, CA. If you are visiting Mammoth it is totally worth the 20-30 minute drive up the 395 to visit this awesome mountain town. In addition to the towering mountains that surround the town and the 4 amazing lakes (June, Gull, Silver, Grant), they also have an awesome brewery (June Lake Brewing) and some great food options (Ohanas 395, Tiger Bar, June Pie). They also have a couple great hiking trails including the Fern Lake Trail.
The trailhead is located on the June Lake Loop just before you get to Double Eagle Resort. There is good signage with a small dirt parking lot at the trailhead. This is not a very long hike, only about 3 miles out and back to Fern & 4.5 miles to Yost lake out and back, but the elevation gain of 1,800 feet makes it a very strenuous hike. It can also get hot on this trail, so it is a great hike to do in the Fall.
The trail starts out pretty flat, but quickly changes to a steep incline. The incline basically continues for the entirety of the trail which allows for some pretty great views of the entire June Lake area. This is actually one of my favorite trails in the Mammoth Lakes region because the views are so amazing and the lakes at the end of the trails feel so remote, but be prepared to sweat and bring lots of water.
Approximately 2 miles in there is a fork in the trail. You can continue going straight to Yost lake where you will cross Yost Creek via a wooden log bridge. If you turn right you will see what essentially looks like a rock staircase that will take you Fern Lake. The photo above shows Fern Lake with towering peaks on all sides. This is a great place to spend the day, so bring some snacks or a full lunch, chill out, and enjoy the view.
If you opt for the longer hike to Yost Lake you will not be disappointed. Once you get over the crest of the initial incline section, which is 3+ miles, you come into a flat wooded area that is absolutely beautiful. Yost lake does not have much shore line, it is rocky or overgrown, but if you bush whack a little bit you can find a few little private coves that are awesome places to hang out for a bit. Whether you choose to hike to Fern or Yost you will be very tired, yet rewarded with some amazing scenery.