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Getting Started on Mt Ritter - is best done by taking US 395 to SR203 which leads to Mammoth Lakes.
Follow the highway (turn right at the second light) to the main lodge of Mammoth Mountain. If you are there
before 7am or after 7:30pm, you can continue past the ski resort. During the daylight hours above, all visitors must
pay a $7 per person fee, and use the mandatory shuttle bus. Hikers and cyclists can enter on their own, but must
still pay the fee.
Drive down the road and after passing a pack station,
look to your left and you will see an open meadow with
parking available for the Shadow Lake trailhead approach.
We avoided having to take the shuttle bus in that we
arrived in the area at around 11pm. However, if you arrive
between the hours of 7am and 7:30pm, you will be
required to park and take the shuttle in. The photo to the
right is an image of the fee station that you must stop
at during the above daylight hours.
The bus leaves every 30 minutes or more frequently during
periods of high use. Backpackers with permits do not have an exemption from using the shuttle during normal
daytime hours. As mentioned above, we arrived late and traveled down the trail about a mile or so and set up camp
in the forest. This way we avoided having to take the shuttle coming in and paid the fee on the way out. By doing
this, we were able to get an early start in the morning without having to take time out to deal with all the above.
Entry fee (or exit fee as in our case) into Reds Meadow Valley is $7 per person This allows for the free use of the
shuttle bus. National Parks Passes and USFS Adventure Passes are not valid for the Reds Meadow Valley entrance
fee. The cost of the aforementioned is used to pay for and encourage the use of the shuttle bus.
As with nearly all Sierra Adventures, a wilderness pass is required. I would recommend securing a permit well in
advance. The Ritter/Banner peaks and especially the surrounding Ansel Adams wilderness area is very popular
with fisherman, backpackers, and climbers alike. The reason for this is due to the unsurpassed beauty in this
region. For permit information click here, and choose the Shadow Lake Trailhead Option ID A7.
Once past the entry station shown above, you will begin your
descent on a narrow roadway that consists of only one lane for
the most part. Be sure to take it slow, and use the turnouts
when confronted with on coming traffic. Near the bottom of
the canyon road, you will come across a sign (shown to the right)
that points the way to the Agnew Meadow Trailhead. Turn
to the right, and continue a short distance on a dirt road. The
stables are on the right hand side of the road if you are making
use of a pack train. The road finally dead ends into a parking
area that will give you easy access to the trailhead.
Agnew Meadows as well as the entire Ansel Adam's
Wilderness area is prime bear habitat. Make sure to leave
no scented items in your vehicle. Bears have a very keen
since of smell and breaking into your car or truck is no
problem for these powerful critters. Bear canisters are
also required for storing your food while climbing or
backpacking. If you do not own a bear canister you can
rent them for a nominal fee when you pick up your permit.
Besides making things safer for both you and the bears,
canisters make for great chairs while sitting around in camp.
Proper planning is essential for all back country
outings, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness region is no
exception. Securing permits, having the proper
equipment along including a bear proof canister, can
make the difference between a great adventure or
an exercise in misery. To the right is a photo of the
Ansel Adams Wilderness from the summit of Mt
Ritter. It is only one of the many fantastically
beautiful scenes that you may encounter while
exploring the above region.
Mount Ritter - Getting Started timberlinetrails.net