Mountain Biking in Mammoth Lakes, California
Mountain Biking out of the Mammoth Lakes area is a fabulous experience.
You and your family will find everything from dirt roads, single tracks, hill climbs, and even stream crossings.
The Mammoth Mountain Bike Park is the first place to head.
The trails in the park run from extreme pro-only downhill courses too easy beginner family-friendly trails.
You can get a ton of downhill vertical using their bike park shuttle, the gondola, and the several lifts that they run.
Plan on a couple of days in the park so you can ride the entire run layout and then lap your favorites.
Next up the USFS offers up some great dirt roads and single-track trails you can easily access right from town. There are more forest trails outside of Mammoth that are just a short drive out of town.
Remember if you’re planning a trip to ride here you will be riding from 7500 feet all the way up to 11,000 feet at times. Be prepared to adjust to the high altitude, it’s a bit of a shock a first but if you’re in shape your body will adapt quickly.
Plan on bringing extra water to help stay hydrated in the high elevation dry environment. Always carry supplies for changing weather, a sunny summer morning can lead to pouring rain, and lightning in a very short period of time.
Single Track and Service Road Routes
#1 Mountain View Trail – 11 miles, 8,500-9,130’ elevation, 52% single track, Medium technicality & Hard effort
The Mountain View Trail is one of my favorite mountain bike rides in the Mammoth Lakes area. This single-track/dirt service road trail starts at the Earthquake Fault parking lot about 2 miles out of the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
Most locals including myself would do this ride from out their front door. Combining the Mountain View Trail with Uptown and Downtown gives you access right from your lodging location.
The Mountain View trail slowly winds its way up to the Minaret Vista. You will find everything from firm dirt, pumice litter, single track, fire roads, lodgepole forests, steep little climbs, and some cool bermed banked turns.
When you reach the summit you will be treated to some epic views and a nice breeze.
From the Summit, of course, it’s all back downhill, or if you want to continue climbing you can hit the hardcore climb from the summit of the mountain view.
For those with bike park passes, you can enter the park right from the area near the top of Mountain View.
If you’re not used to the altitude beware, this is one tough ride and is not advised as a family ride unless you’re all hardcore riders in great shape.
If you want to do this ride from the Earth Quake Fault parking area take Main Street up to Minaret Road. Take a right, and drive in the direction of Mammoth Mountains Main Lodge.
You will pass right by The Village at Mammoth on your way out of town. The earthquake fault parking area is about 2 miles up the road on your right side heading up. It’s marked with a big sign you won’t miss.
#2 Mammoth Rock Trail – 2.7/6 miles, 7,860-8,460’ elevation, 100% single track, Medium technicality, Moderate effort
Mammoth Rock Trail is one of the original Mountain Bike rides that people have been riding here in town since the early ’80s. The trail stretches from near the top of Old Mammoth Road down the face of the Sherwin Range into the lower parts of town.
While riding this trail you will be treated to some fantastic views and of course, you get to ride right under the iconic Mammoth Rock formation.
The lower trailhead is located on Sherwin Creek Road, one-half mile past Sierra Meadows Ranch. There are several large propane tanks in the area of the trailhead. You will also see signs in the area guiding you to the trailhead you can’t miss.
The first three-quarters of a mile of the trail follows an old mammoth jeep road, then it turns into a single-track.
The single track climbs thru a large area of manzanita and then up a forested section. At one point you will reach a clearing caused by the great avalanche of February 1986.
The trail then passes just below Mammoth Rock and then continues to the end, which intersects Old Mammoth Road.
Now you can turn around and enjoy this ride as a downhill. Caution: Downhill riders please slow down and watch for Horses and Hikers.
This trail has heavy usage so you are going to encounter other users. Trail etiquette requires mountain bikers to yield to horses and hikers. Check out a video of the Mammoth Rock Trail here.
#3 Mammoth Knolls – 12 miles, 7,620-8,480’ elevation, 20% single track, Medium technicality, Strenuous effort, Ride Early Morning in the Summer
This route begins at the Shady Rest Day Use Parking Area directly across from Starbucks. As you enter the Shady Rest Area you will notice a paved path to your left.
We will use this path to get from the parking area to the start of this long ride. Please use the day-use parking and not campsite parking.
Once you park, head back to the paved trail and ride down it 100 yards. Cross over the paved road next to the path and you will see a dirt single track this is the start of the fun.
Next, you will see there is a kiosk with a map of the Knolls Loop and surrounding Trails.
This Mountain Bike Route follows dirt roads with numerous side roads and variations.
Most of the roads in this area loop back into each other or to the Sawmill Cutoff road, the Mammoth Scenic Loop, or Hwy. 203 at some point.
A sign marks the entire Knolls Loop so it is easy to follow this route.
This ride offers up some views of the Eastern Sierra that are stunning and you will want to get off your bikes and take a look and reflect. This ride gets a rating of a 10 for dirt road fun.
#4 Uptown / Downtown Loop Lower Section* (Ticket needed above the service garage)
The Uptown / Downtown trail was built in the summer of 1991 as one of the primary trails in the new Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.
These two trails are a great loop ride and they also offer a bunch of options with other trails in and out of the park they link up to.
Just be sure you understand that both uptown and downtown are part of the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.
You can only ride these trails without a bike park pass up to the Mammoth Earth Quake Fault. There is a loop option at that point.
Uptown starts just above the Village and winds it way thru the forest all the way up to Main Lodge. There are a couple of rocky technical climbs for intermediates that are fun otherwise it clear packed dirt with just a bit of pumice on the climb.
You will defiantly feel the altitude when you head up uptown the first time.
Downtown follows a similar path from Main Lodge back to the Village at Mammoth. The downhill back to the Village is easy and family-friendly. There are even a couple of wooden berms for the kids to enjoy.
Over the years I have used uptown as my access to Mountain View and other Cross Country loops I do out in the bike park.
#5 Panorama Dome – 2 miles, 8,520-8,640’ elevation, 99% single track, Medium technicality, Moderate effort
This is a short 2-mile ride on a mixed-use trail where you will encounter hikers and also horses. Conditions are packed dirt with little pumice.
What stands out most about this ride are the incredible views once you’re at the top of the short climb. I have to say the dome area is one of my favorite places in all of Mammoth Lakes to relax and take it all in.
Panorama Dome trail starts about .5 miles up Lake Mary Road for the first Twin Lakes parking lot.
The best way to take this ride is to link it up with other rides in the area. There is a small parking area at the Trail Head so you can park and ride if you like.
#6 Horseshoe Lake – 1.7 miles, 8,890-8,950’ elevation, 90% single track, Easy technicality, Mild effort – Link this ride up with the Mammoth Lakes Paved Trail System.
This is a quick short ride that you can link up with the Mammoth Lakes paved trail system. The trail starts by the parking lot that Lake Mary Road ends at.
There are some great views of Horseshoe Lake, the Mammoth Crest, and the backside of Mammoth Mountain.
Just off the trail you have access to all the private coves and beaches horseshoe lake offers.
This trail is shared use with hikers and lots of dogs off-leash running around so beware.
#7 Shady Rest – 3.5 miles, 7,700-7,900’ elevation, 75% single track, Easy technicality, Mild effort
#8 Town Paved Bike Path Trails – 8 miles, 7,700-8,000’ elevation, 0% single track, Medium technicality, Mild effort
The Mammoth Lakes Pave Trail System is one of the best assets the town has invested in. The trail systems have sections in most parts of town that all link up.
I love to ride these paths, they offer up some great views and fast pavement to ride on. The networks of paths extend from the Skate Park to Shady Rest Park to Town and all the way up to Horseshoe Lake.
#9 Starkweather (seasonal) – 2.6/6.8 miles, 9,150-8,040’ elevation, 100% single track, Medium/Difficult technicality & Moderate/Difficult effort
This trail is the result of Mammoth Locals in the ’80s getting creating with the new Mountain Bikes that had just come out. It’s only open with the Reds Meadow Bike Park Shuttle is close.
That leaves a couple of weeks in the spring and a month in the Fall that you can ride this trail. It’s been a long long time since I rode it down to the Lake.
If you’re in good shape you can ride this trail down into the valley and then take the road to reds meadow and ride out. But beware it’s a long uphill ride back to the vista point so hydrate and eat or you going to bunk.
For the hearty, I advise you to ride back up the trail and forget the pavement. The first time I did this ride we rode the pavement out and it was dicey with all the cars so close to us.
#10 Vista Trail: This trail begins just above the First Twin Lakes Bridge in the Lower Mammoth Lakes Basin.
Take Main Street Hwy. 203 towards Whisky Creek and the Village. Instead of following 203 go straight at the signal and now you are on Lake Mary Road.
Proceed for about 2 miles to the First Twin Lakes Bridge. Right after the bridge look for the Vista Mtn Bike Trail sign on the left side of the road.
This is a simple and short trial. As you start the ride out very quickly it wants to branch off to the left and right.
Take the right fork and it crosses an old flume built-in 1868 to power the mill for the below Mines. The trail will come to a quick end at Old Mammoth Road.
Take a ride up this road and you will see some of Mammoth Roots in History. USFS markers, mining ruins, and the remains of log cabins are all around.
You can continue up to Lake Mary Road or return to the trail and do it in the opposite direction. This is a very short ride so link it up with another route or combine it with a loop around the pavement in the Upper Lakes Basin.