|Total distance: < 2 miles (loop)|
|Elevation changes: +/- 200 feet (approx.)|
|Entry Trailhead: Panum Crater|
|Exit Trailhead: Panum Crater|
Of the many low hanging fruit hike in Eastern Sierra, Panum Crater has to be one of the good ones. For a mere 200 feet climb that is short, you gain enough elevation to see Mono Lake and basin, and also the part of Sierra Nevada that is the eastern border of Yosemite National Park.
To get there, drive on US-395 and take 120 East to Benton. After 3 miles, you should see a dirt road on your left that may not be marked. This dirt road is not too rough and easily accessible with sedan. It should be pretty obvious where you can park as you follow along on the dirt road. Below is a picture looking at the dirt road from Panum Crater:
There are two hiking trails, one around the rim and the other to the top of the cone. Due to volcanic activity in the recent 600-700 years ago, the trail is littered with obsidian.
Once on top, from one direction you can see the Sierra Nevada (here a picture with Gary as a model):
Or to the other direction, Mono Lake itself:
The whole hike took less than 1 hour and I think the scenary was well worth the minimal effort you put in!
Topo map created with Garmin Basecamp. Click here to generate directions to trailhead.