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Reds Meadow & Devils Postpile

Children fishing
Every summer when our kids were small, we camped or rented a cabin at Reds Meadow. It was an extended family activity with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, and other families came too. In front of one cabin is an outdoor fireplace with our boys’ names etched in the cement (courtesy of the guy who built the fireplace while we were there). Wildflowers blooming in the meadows, rushing waterfalls, streams for fishing, campfires under the stars, ice cream bars at the store after a long hike, it was heaven.
Rainbow Falls
  Rainbow Falls – Going to Rainbow Falls is a must do. When you get the falls, it’s impressive – the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River plunges 101 ft. down over the falls, making rainbows as it goes. Best of all, at the bottom of the falls, the water is shallow, and kids can wade and skip rocks for hours. (Swimsuits are a plus when the kids get wet). It’s a wide, easy trail, about 2.5 miles round trip from Reds Meadow, bring your lunch.
      Tip: This trail is not good with strollers - bring baby backpacks.
    Sotcher Lake Nature Trail – We always enjoyed walking around Sotcher Lake in the late afternoon, perfect if you have toddlers. There’s a nature trail around the lake (1.2 miles), through the pine, fir and aspen trees. Keep your eyes peeled for beaver dams on the south and east side of the lake (we saw numerous beaver dams, but never the beavers).
Devils Postpile
  Devils Postpile – It’s just a short walk to the Devils Postpile, a geologic wonder. After a volcanic eruption, lava cooled into a wall of six sided columns, then the glaciers came and smoothed off the tops. You’ll want to check out both the bottom of the postpile (where there’s plenty of broken off pieces like a messy playroom), as well as the trail to the tops of the columns, a smooth pavement of pentagons.
    Hikes -
      Soda Springs – From Reds Meadow Resort, take the trail east through the meadow, until you come to the Pacific Crest Trail, then follow it north. Just north of the bridge, there’s a naturally fizzy spring, bubbling by the side of the river.
    Minaret Falls – If you want to keep on going from Soda Springs, continue on to Minaret Falls. This is a series of cascades rushing down off the mountainside. It’s fun just to play by the water, hopping on rocks and logs.
      Red Cones – For a completely different hike, head south to Crater Meadow and the Red Cones. Take the trail to the top of the Red Cone, it’s a huge rusty red cinder pile, with great views in all directions. From Reds Meadow it’s 6.5 miles round trip, with some up and down, but even a small child can do it (our 3 year old made it and back).
      Agnew Meadows – Everyone in the family will enjoy wandering along Agnew Meadows up River Trail as far as you like (the meadows have lovely wildflowers in June and July). For teens, a fun day hike is Agnew Meadows to Shadow Lake, then loop back on the John Muir Trail to Johnston Lake and Minaret Falls. (This is a moderately ambitious hike, with numerous stream crossings without bridges.)
    Horseback rides – Go for 2 hour, half day, or full day horseback rides through the forests. Rides are accompanied by a guide, kids must be 6 and up.
    Go camping – We’ve had a super time camping in the Reds Meadow Valley, and there are six different campgrounds (plus two group camps). Our favorite is Reds Meadow, as it has warm showers and is convenient to the general store and ice cream. To camp, no reservations are necessary (except the group camps), it’s on a first come, first serve basis. Click here for more information.
   

Reds Meadow Valley Shuttle – We love the free shuttle bus that runs up and down the valley. Hike with the kids to a spot in the valley, then take the bus back – we’ve used each of the ten stops on the shuttle bus route. Click here for the map.

      If you’re staying in the valley (camping or renting a cabin as Reds Meadow Resort), driving in a car is allowed, however, the shuttle is mandatory for day visits to Reds Meadow Valley. For day visits, pick up the free shuttle in front of Mammoth Mountain Inn.
      Tip: Reds Meadow Valley is only open in the summer.
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