Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

Lee Vining Creek Trail repair work begins this month

Ever since record high streamflows washed out a section of the Lee Vining Creek Trail in June 2017, the Mono Lake Committee has been working with several agencies and organizations to create a plan to fix the trail. We’re excited to announce that the trail repair work will begin this month!

Mammoth Lakes Trails Coordinator Joel Rathje and his crew check out the hillside where the rerouted portion of the Lee Vining Creek Trail will go. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The trail will not be closed as the repair work takes place, but hikers may see trail crews and signs about the work happening. The trail damage was in a section of steep and unstable terrain, so the repair plan includes routing to avoid future washout problems when the creek enjoys restorative high flow conditions. When the work is complete, visitors and locals alike will be able to enjoy the trail’s newly-routed section that showcases views of the restored Lee Vining Creek bottomlands habitat.

Last fall a crew from Friends of the Inyo temporarily rerouted the trail around the damaged section and provided an initial assessment of the repair work needed. This year Joel Rathje, Trails Coordinator for the town of Mammoth Lakes, added his expertise by developing a long-term rehabilitation plan for the trail and secured a trail crew to complete the work.

In addition to plan development, the Committee has been working with the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (DWP)—which owns the land the trail traverses—to get permission to do the work on its land. Mono County has played a critical role in providing funding for the work crews. Completion of the trail repairs is expected this fall, contingent on work crew availability.

I placed the first flags marking the new route for the washed-out section of the Lee Vining Creek Trail. Photo courtesy of Joel Rathje.

The popular trail connects the south end of Lee Vining to the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, and was originally constructed in 1993 as a joint project of the town of Lee Vining, the Mono Lake Committee, the Inyo National Forest, and DWP.

The rerouted section of trail will offer great views of restored Lee Vining Creek. Photo courtesy of Joel Rathje.

For more information about the Lee Vining Creek Trail washout and repair process, see the 2017 Fall Mono Lake Newsletter (pages 6 & 7), the 2018 Winter & Spring Newsletter (page 10), and the 2018 Summer Newsletter (page 10).