McGee Creek and Hilton Creek

Revised 11 Jun 2012 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Eastern Sierra for context and how to get here.
north prev in Eastern Sierra: Convict Lake Trailhead
south next in Eastern Sierra: Rock Creek Trailheads (uphill from Toms Place)
info view GPS waypoints: simple Waypoint+ format, download GPX file, or overlay on interactive map.
See this popup local area map showing Mammoth south to Bishop (look for waypoints 395MCG and 395SLR).
View the waypoint file (above) for GPS Routes MCGEE CREEK, HILTON CREEK,
HILTON STOCK TRAIL, and HWY 395 MAMMOTH TO BISHOP.

Both Hilton Creek (red line) and McGee Creek (blue line) drain into Lake Crowley. These two creek drainages are separated by one of the Mt Morgans (the other Mt Morgan being only a few miles to the southeast, on the other side of Rock Creek). Contrary to instructions found in other places, you should NOT leave Hwy 395 at Crowley Lake Road for these trailheads - leaving Hwy 395 at McGee Creek Road is shorter to McGee and faster even to Hilton. Turn southwest from Hwy 395 at McGee Creek Road (waypoint 395MCG) for both trailheads.

NOTE: There is a separate (lower elevation) stock trail for Hilton Creek (green line) - see below for a description that DOES leave Hwy 395 on South Landing Road, described by some as the Lake Crowley exit, which is about 3 miles south of the McGee Creek Road intersection. Crowley Lake Dr actually crosses Hwy 395 to the north of these intersections, and generally runs parallel to the highway.

Map to all three trailheads: (detailed descriptions are below)


GPS Route MCGEE CREEK - blue line on the map above

NOTE: This McGee Creek is not the same as the McGee Creek in Buttermilk Country used to climb Basin Mtn! This one is by Mt Morgan.

Leave Hwy 395 on McGee Creek Road (waypoint 395MCG), about 6.5 miles north of Tom's Place (Rock Creek). Other reference points include 30 miles north of Bishop, 9 miles south of the Mammoth Lakes turnoff, or 34 miles south of Lee Vining.

Continue across Crowley Lake Drive (waypoint CROMCG) at a 4-way stop sign. Pass the McGee Creek Campground (signed 'camp only in designated sites'). The pavement then ends (waypoint PAVEND) but the road remains good for all cars. There is a gate (waypoint MGPACK) where the road apparently crosses onto pack station property - open the gate and drive on through! There is a public pay phone just inside the gate, but parking in this area is for pack station clients only.

The McGee Creek trailhead (waypoint MCGCRK) has a large paved lot that horse trailers dump crap on, an outhouse, and several picnic tables where you may be able to spend the night. One such table is at the lower end of the parking lot, on the side away from the creek. Another is just beyond the trailhead sign, on the creek side of the trail.

There are two trails leaving directly from the trailhead sign. The upper one is from the pack station, and is actually the better trail. The lower one remains level for a ways and then switchbacks up to meet the higher one.


GPS Route HILTON CREEK - red line on the map above

NOTE: This trail goes up Hilton Creek to Hilton Lakes, then back down to Rock Creek Road and the Hilton Lakes Trailhead.

Leave Hwy 395 on McGee Creek Road (waypoint 395MCG), about 6.5 miles north of Tom's Place (Rock Creek). Other reference points include 30 miles north of Bishop, 9 miles south of the Mammoth Lakes turnoff, or 34 miles south of Lee Vining.

Turn southeast (left) at Crowley Lake Drive (waypoint CROMCG) at a 4-way stop sign. About 1.1 miles south of this stop sign, turn uphill (right) at Hilton Creek Road (waypoint CROHIL). There is a large wooden sign here reading 'Crowley Lake Recreation Site'. If you have pack stock, go further south to the road called Hilton Creek Trail (waypoint HILTRL), described in the stock trail for Hilton Creek section of this file.

From waypoint CROHIL, it's all uphill on an increasingly bad dirt road. The main road goes left into the Lake Crowley Campground (at waypoint CROCMP), but there is a small wooden sign indicating you should go straight to reach the Hilton Lakes Trail. Keep going straight uphill, past all the turnouts and the occasional camper-for-life site, past the National Forest Boundary sign (waypoint HILFOR) where the road gets noticeably worse, and think about stopping at the large parking area at 7500' (waypoint HIL2WD). 2WD passenger cars can easily get here, where a 4WD side road goes west and the trailhead road continues south.

Waypoint HIL2WD is a good place for passenger cars to stop because there won't be a good place to turn around or park until after the really bad section (above waypoint HILBAD) where a corner leaves you looking a big rocks and deep ruts. Near where the bad part starts, there is parking for 1 or 2 cars only. Above the bad portion there is another small parking area (marked by a sign) and a short walk to the gate where the trail actually starts (waypoint HILCRK) at 7800'.


GPS Route HILTON STOCK TRAIL - green line on the map above

NOTE: Hikers will probably want to use the other Hilton Creek Trailhead, described above!

Leave Hwy 395 on South Landing Road (waypoint 395SLR), about 3.8 miles north of Tom's Place (Rock Creek). The sign here says Crowley Lake is south (toward the mountains), referring to the TOWN and not the LAKE, and says Hilton Creek is north (toward the valley, where the actual Crowley Lake is). Other reference points include 27 miles north of Bishop, 12 miles south of the Mammoth Lakes turnoff, or 37 miles south of Lee Vining.

This major interchange leaves you on a sort of main street through town, with a small general store and other services. Go uphill and stay on the main road as it starts to wind, then hit a 'T' intersection with Crowley Lake Dr (waypoint CROSLR). Turn right (northwest) on Crowley Lake Dr and go about 0.8 miles (just north of the fire station) to a dirt road going uphill (waypoint HILTRL) with a street sign saying 'Hilton Creek Trail'.

This dirt road forks and ends at waypoint HILSTK: the left fork is marked 'Parking', the right fork is marked 'Trailhead'. This trailhead is about 700' lower elevation than the Hilton Creek Trail described above, but they do appear to meet higher up (according to the map).


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