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Duck Pass and Duck Lake

A popular out-and-back with incredible alpine views.

Hiking Difficult

15 km
671 m
671 m
4-5 hrs
Low Point
2.8 km
High Point
3.3 km
Duck Pass and Duck Lake Map

Hiking out-and-back to the top of Duck Pass, or choosing to carry on over the top to Duck Lake, is an ambitious day hike beginning in the popular Mary Lake area. Some hikers opt to turn this route into a quick overnight backpacking trip by camping at Duck Lake.


The hike begins with a steep climb, “but don't let that stop you,” says Becky from Riverside, CA. "Once you get past that, it starts to even out and you get the beautiful sceneries that the Sierra Nevadas promises you.”

As the trail slowly ascends the valley, it passes numerous mountain lakes and rushing streams.

The push to the top of Duck Pass switchbacks steeply up a rocky mountainside, but the views from the top of the pass are absolutely stunning! If you’re already tired by this point, the top of the pass is the perfect spot to turn around. If you decide to drop down the other side of the pass to Duck Lake, realize that you’ll have to turn around and climb back up the pass, as you have to retrace the same route to return to the trailhead near Lake Mary.

If you do put in the effort to reach Duck Lake, the reward is totally worth it! Everyone that has visited this lake raves about how stunningly beautiful the deep, dark blue water is. With majestic mountain peaks ringing the lake on all sides, setting up camp and spending a day or two in this alpine paradise sounds like a superb idea!

Sources: https://www.mammothtrails.org/trail/9/duck-pass-trail/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFEgdQpNfY



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Low Exposure

1 out of 4

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between July and October


  • Alpine
  • Picturesque
  • Water features

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area