Minaret Falls

Devils Postpile National Monument / Inyo National Forest / Mono County / Fresno County, California, USA

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2.5
Minaret Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Minaret Falls is a pleasant cascade just outside the northwestern boundaries of the Devils Postpile National Monument (in Inyo National Forest).

Tumbling probably some 150ft (though we've seen it reported that it's 300ft or even 250ft in cumulative height) as it scatters on its way down the cliff, we found it to be most impressive during the early Summer when its flow would typically be at its highest. The only downside to timing a visit for that time frame was that we had to endure hordes of blood-sucking mosquitoes at its swampy base. However, Julie and I did visit this waterfall in lower flow in September 2001, which meant there weren't mozzies down there, but the falls didn't look quite as impressive.

We hiked to this waterfall from the nearest car park to the Devil's Postpile formation (see directions below). The 1.5-mile hike (3 miles round trip) started off by crossing a bridge over the San Joaquin River. Had we chosen to continue on the main trail and not cross the bridge, we would've reached the eccentric Devil's Postpile formation in about 0.3 miles.

On the other side of the bridge, we kept right at a fork and followed this path north (which was part of the Pacific Crest Trail). Eventually we reached a four-way junction where we made another right turn. By choosing the path on the right at the intersection, we eventually made it to the base of the waterfall where additional scrambling was necessary to get right in front of the falls (as pictured at the top of this page). Had we gone straight at the 4-way intersection, we would've ended up going past the top of Minaret Falls.

Anyways, the out-and-back hike to the base of the falls was mostly flat so we found it to be relatively easy despite its seemingly moderate round-trip hiking distance. Thus, it was pretty easy to combine a visit to the falls with a visit to the Devil's Postpile formation. We even had enough energy to go right to the top of the basalt columns where the ground below looked like someone laid out perfectly hexagonal tiles (except they were really the cross-sectional shape of the basalt columns)!

The trailhead for this waterfall is also shared with the shortest path to the eccentric Devil's Postpile formation. It's roughly about 0.3 miles from the trailhead where you can get right in front of the basalt columns. But you can also go up stairs to get right to the top of the columns where the ground below you looks like it was laid out with hexagonal tiles (yet they're really the cross-sectional shape of the basalt columns you saw below). It's definitely worth the side trip if you're doing this waterfall.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

The Devil's Postpile formation was merely a 1/4-mile walk from the same trailhead as that of Minaret FallsThe Devil's Postpile formation was merely a 1/4-mile walk from the same trailhead as that of Minaret Falls
Just a few minutes drive south on the 395 from Mammoth Lakes was the easily-accessible yet beautiful Convict LakeJust a few minutes drive south on the 395 from Mammoth Lakes was the easily-accessible yet beautiful Convict Lake
Seemingly right across from the turnoff for Convict Lake was the access road to the Hot Creek Geothermal Site, which led to this interesting heated creek that we used to be able to soak inSeemingly right across from the turnoff for Convict Lake was the access road to the Hot Creek Geothermal Site, which led to this interesting heated creek that we used to be able to soak in
Devils Postpile National Monument was also very close to Mammoth Lakes Resort Community, which itself was near the Twin Lakes as shown hereDevils Postpile National Monument was also very close to Mammoth Lakes Resort Community, which itself was near the Twin Lakes as shown here
Looking upstream from the bridge over the San Joaquin RiverLooking upstream from the bridge over the San Joaquin River

Looking downstream from the bridge over the San Joaquin RiverLooking downstream from the bridge over the San Joaquin River

Looking up at Minaret Falls in low flow from Sept 2001Looking up at the falls in low flow from Sept 2001

Another look at Minaret Falls in low flow in 2001Another look at the falls in low flow in 2001

Hexagonal flooring at the top of the Devil's Postpile as seen back in 2001Hexagonal flooring at the top of the Devils Postpile as seen back in 2001

Devils PostpileDevils Postpile as seen back in 2001

Angled look at the Devils PostpileAngled look at the postpile formation in 2001

Looking towards the deformed basalt columns to the left side of the formationLooking towards the deformed basalt columns to the left side of the formation in 2001


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Old video of the falls braving heaps of mosquitoes at its swampy base


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

See the directions for Rainbow Falls, which will get you from Mammoth Lakes to this general area (as well as the context of the longer drive to Mammoth from Los Angeles). However, instead of driving Minaret Road all the way towards Reds Meadow, you turn right for the Soda Springs Campground (not Upper Soda Springs Campground).

There's a signpost for the Devils Postpile at the turnoff to further guide you in that direction. This is the nearest car park for both the Devils Postpile formation as well as Minaret Falls. There's also a Minaret Falls campground, but because the campsite is on the other side of the San Joaquin River, I believe you still have to go all the way to the same trailhead we started at then hike to the falls in order to get close to it.

Of course, you do have the option of combining this hike with the Rainbow Falls hike so you don't have to worry about getting on and off multiple shuttle stops. However, it's said to be a minimum of around 8 miles round trip or so on foot to take in all three waterfalls utilizing the network of trails here.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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