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My dog, Javier, hasn’t always had the simple life he loves these days. He was born in 2012 as part of Guide Dogs for the Blind. As Javier went through his Guide Dog puppy training, it became clear that he wasn’t taken by the lifestyle. Javier is what Guide Dogs for the Blind calls a career change dog since he did not graduate from Guide Dog college, and because of that, my husband, John, and I were able to adopt him in 2014.

Javier now lives every dog’s dream life. He gets to run around the mountains of the Eastern Sierra while still being a mentor to other Guide Dog puppies through Guide Dogs for the Blind – Bishop/Mammoth Puppy Raisers Club and a therapy dog through Paws4Healing. I share a lot about Javier in my email newsletters and on his Facebook page, but I wanted to share more about Javier here on my blog.

Here are five of Javier’s favorite spots in Mammoth Lakes:

1. Shady Rest Park

Sonja's dog Javier sits with two black labs and one yellow lab friend at the baseball field at Shady Rest Park in Mammoth Lakes CA

This park is a favorite for Mammoth Lakes locals. There are soccer fields, softball fields, volleyball courts, and grills for picnicking. But Javier is a big fan of the trails that start from Shady Rest Park. There are miles of single track trail and lightly-trafficked roads and walking trails that you can access from the park’s parking lot. You can walk as little are as far as you like, just remember where you came from because there are many trail options.

2. Inyo Craters

Sonja's dog Javier (a yellow lab) trots down a forested dirt trail in Mammoth Lakes

Javier loves hiking up to Inyo Craters in the summer. This trail doesn’t get as crowded as some of the others in the area, but we especially love taking a hike up there on a weekday when it’s quieter. You can access Inyo Craters in the winter too, but it’s a much longer hike — or you can go by snowmobile, but Javier says summertime is best.

3. Sherwins Trailhead

Sonja's yellow lab Javier looks at the camera in front of Sherwin Lake in Mammoth Lakes CA

The trails starting at the Sherwins Trailhead are perfect for dogs to run around and make new friends. While cars are allowed on the roads near the trailhead, if you head far enough into the wilderness (like toward Sherwin and Valentine Lakes – some of Javier’s favorites!), you’ll be away from car territory. Dogs are required to be on-leash within town limits, but outside of town limits, if your dog is on good voice control, it’s okay to let them off the leash.

4. Horseshoe Lake

Sonja's dog Javier poses for a picture in front of a half-frozen high alpine lake in the spring in Mammoth Lakes CA

Horseshoe Lake is the highest lake you can drive to in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. It’s dog heaven in the summer, although you need to be cautious spending too much time on the closest side of the lake because of carbon dioxide off-gassing in the area. Since dogs and kids are lower to the ground, they’re at higher risk, but we find it’s okay if it’s a short playtime there. We love to walk all the way around the lake — not only is it beautiful but there are plenty of spots for Javier to venture down to the water to fetch a stick or just cool off on a warm summer day.

5. Hot Creek Geological Site

Sonja's dog Javier sits on a snowy hill above Hot Creek Geologic Site in Mammoth Lakes CA with four of his dog friends

Hot Creek Geological Site is a favorite spot for both Javier and I. Add in all of his dog friends and he’s happy as can be. In the winter, you’ll need snowshoes or cross country skis to get to the Geological Site, but in the summer you can drive right to the parking lot above it and walk for just a couple minutes to see the steaming blue water. Javier can’t decide if summer or winter is his favorite. While the water looks amazing, you and your dog should both avoid touching it — it’s scalding hot.

 

If you bring your furry friend with you to Mammoth Lakes to visit, I highly recommend a visit to any of these spots. Just be sure to bring dog bags with you to pick up any messes, and always be respectful of other hikers, dogs and cars you might encounter.

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