Mammoth Yosemite Airport. The Hot Creek Geological Site is another 3.3 miles from the exit off of highway 395. Approximately a mile and a half after the exit off of highway 395, the Hot Creek Hatchery Road turns into a dirt/gravel road (The road is maintained well enough for cars to drive on the road). The parking area for the Hot Creek Geological Site is well marked and is located on the left hand side of the road. There is no cost for parking here and the area is open sunrise to sunset. During the winter months you may access the Hot Creek Geological Site by snowmobile, snowshoe, or cross-country skiing.
Description of Trail: The hiking trail for the Hot Creek Geological Site hike in the Eastern Sierras is well maintain and is very short. From the parking area there is a paved trail that heads down to the Hot Creek Geological Site. You will pass multiple signs that have information about the geothermal activity found in this area as well as numerous warning and danger signs telling visitors not to swim in the water or walk off trail near the geothermal features. On the hike down you will see much of the geothermal features and at the bottom there is a dirt trail you can travel along to view the entirety of the Hot Creek Geological Site. This hike is 0.5 miles roundtrip with less than 50 feet of elevation gain/loss and is a fun short hike to a neat geothermal area.
This region was is a large volcano which had such a massive eruption approximately 760,000 years ago it resulted in the Long Valley Caldera, which is a 20 by 10 mile depression above a subterranean reservoir of molten rock, that continues to cause instability in the form of frequent earthquakes and occasional eruptions. The steam you see along the Hot Creek drainage is created when water percolates deep into the ground and enters a complex underground plumbing system. The water is heated and pressurized before it rises to the earth's surface. It is believed this journey takes around 1,000 years. Earthquakes have been known in the past to cause sudden geyser eruptions in this areas as well as create new hot springs at Hot Creek overnight. Water temperatures can change rapidly in this area, and so entering the water is prohibited for safety reasons.
Rating: Elevation Gain: < 50 ft. (Very Easy), Distance: 0.5 Miles Roundtrip (Very Easy).
Time to Complete Hike: 30 minutes.
View Hot Creek Geological Area (Mammoth Lakes) in a larger map