The high Sierra Nevada is well known for its exceptional landscapes, but it seems an unlikely setting for mining rushes. However, this seems more reasonable given that the Mother Lode deposits have been eroded from the Sierra. And in fact, the metamorphic rocks found primarily on the eastern side of the Sierra, host several deposits of precious metals that led to mining booms in the late 1800s.
Many of these deposits are in the spectacular Lundy Canyon, which flows east from the Sierra Nevada just east of present-day Yosemite National Park. In the early 1880s, several mines in the canyon formed the basis of the town of Lundy. One of the largest mines, and certainly the oldest and best preserved, was the May Lundy mine, located in Lake Canyon.
Like the other Lundy mines, it was a gold producer in the early 1880s, but it has had other revivals as well. It was active in the 1890s until about 1915, then again in the mid-1930s until gold mining closed in 1942.
The mine site itself is now within the Hoover Wilderness Area.
Know before you go
Lundy Canyon is west of US-395 about 7.4 miles north of the intersection of California State Route 120, the Tioga Pass Road, just south of Lee Vining. Turn left on Lundy Lake Road (which joins US-395 across from California SR-167) and travel 3.5 miles. Then take a slight left onto Lundy Dam Road; this bend may have a discrete sign. Continue 0.3 miles to the trailhead on the south side of Lundy Dam.
The trail to the May Lundy Mine climbs up through the slope to the left. This is the original wagon road to the mine, built in 1880-1, but has been closed to vehicle traffic since the 1970s.
After about 1.5 miles and a climb of about 900 feet, the trail turns left into Lake Canyon. The May Lundy mine is now 1.7 miles further, at an elevation of approximately 9,500 feet. Just before the mine, you enter the Hoover Wilderness Area. The trail is open to dogs under restraint.
The trail is about 3.2 miles one way with about 1700 feet of elevation gain so the hike can be strenuous. Also be sure to allow extra time and effort to explore the surrounding area, including the ruins around the mine. In particular, continuing another quarter mile to pretty Oneida Lake is a worthwhile detour.
Remember that all ruins and artifacts have historical value and are protected. Attempting to enter the mine is also extremely dangerous.
The former Lundy townsite itself is on the west side of Lundy Lake and is now mostly covered in recreational facilities. To get there, stay on Lundy Lake Road and drive past the lake. Continue to the end of the road to reach a trailhead accessing Upper Lundy Canyon.