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Ride Report: Horseshoe Lake Loop

This trail is a great introduction to mountain biking and marvelous for families with kids.  It’s shaded in the trees, so it never gets too hot and the views of Horseshoe Lake and the back side of Mammoth Mountain are nice as well.  There are many opportunities to stop and take a breather, and the trail is rarely crowded.  It’s mostly flat, with minimal climbing and descending.  If you’re looking for more riding, try riding up from town on the bike path, and possibly integrating the Panorama Dome Trail and/or Mammoth Rock Trail.

  • Ride Type:  Loop (counter-clockwise as we describe it, but it can be ridden both ways)
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Easy with Minimal Climbing
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth single and double-track, with a brief stint on a dirt road and short section of the paved bike path
  • Access: You can drive up Lake Mary Rd from town (Main St turns into Lake Mary Rd at the intersection of Minaret).  Lake Mary Rd terminates at Horseshoe Lake.  Another alternative is to put your bike on the rack of the trolley which departs from The Village and takes you up to the Lakes Basin (check with Eastern Sierra Transit for the current schedule).  Similarly, you can ride the Town Bike Path all the way up into the Lakes Basin if you’re seeking a longer/ more invigorating ride.  Whichever way you decide to access the trail – once you’re in the Horseshoe Lake parking lot, make your way to the MAMBO bike trail kiosk next to the huge Horseshoe Lake Trailhead sign.  This is where the ride begins.
  • Length: 1.8 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1/2 hour
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,936′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,000′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 94′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – The ride starts heading southbound, out of the parking lot next to the kiosk, and onto a dirt road.
.20 – veer left and go over a few bridges
.34 – veer right at the bike sign, climbing slightly up to the singletrack
.72 – see the remnants of the old campsite and fire place to the left
1.26 – turn left, staying on the dirt trail that parallels the paved path
1.4 – merge with the paved bike path and finish the loop
1.8 – ride ends at MAMBO kiosk
horseshoe_loop_map

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile

The MAMBO sign where the ride officially starts

The MAMBO sign where the ride officially starts

One of the many bridges over creek crossings on the Horseshoe Lake Trail

One of the many bridges over creek crossings on the Horseshoe Lake Trail

A USFS bike trail sign and a fun slice of singletrack through the trees

A USFS bike trail sign and a fun slice of singletrack through the trees

An old fireplace remains from an old camping area next to the trail

An old fireplace remains from an old camping area next to the trail

A great view of Horseshoe Lake from the south side

A great view of Horseshoe Lake from the south side


Ride Report: Mountain View Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mountain View Trail is one of the best (if not the best) public mountain bike trails in the Mammoth Lakes area. There’s an ample amount of stellar singletrack, and some wider jeep roads/ doubletrack as well. You get some great views and open vistas, and lots of forested twisty riding through the trees. It’s really a gem. It can be a little confusing, as there is also a Mountain View trail at the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. The trail I speak of here, stretches from the Earthquake Fault parking area to just below Minaret Vista (or Minaret Summit, same thing). Many people ride this as an out and back (which is described here). It’s a great way to earn your turns. However, Mountain View Trail is also in a perfect spot to connect with many other trails, creating all types of different loop options. For example you can combine it with Uptown / Downtown, Starkweather Trail, Hard Core Trail, Inyo Craters, Double High Five Y, etc. Contact us if you’re curious about putting together some fun loops.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderately strenuous climbing and mostly smooth descending with some sandy spots and a few technical sections.
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: A mix of singletrack and jeep/ 4×4 roads
  • Access: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Make a right turn at the “Earthquake Fault” sign. Park in the lot. Ride back down towards Highway 203 and you’ll see the trailhead sign on your right.
  • Length: 10.6 miles (5.3 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,548′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,163′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,049′ (851′ going up, 198′ going down)
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike, Fat Bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles) for the ride UP:

0.0 – Start at the Mountain View Trailhead. Head straight up the doubletrack. Have your climbing legs on.
0.85 – veer left
0.95 – veer right
1.28 – good luck on this steep, sandy climb!!
1.5 – merge with double track, go right
1.89 – after descending and the sweeping right turn, go left at the dry creek. don’t go directly across the creek (that’s what the ATV’s do). look to the left and you’ll see a trail that crosses two bridges to get across the creek. that is the trail
1.95 – just after crossing the dry creek, go right at the singletrack marked by two wooden posts. there is no sign here (hopefully the sign will be replaced soon).
2.55 – right at junction
2.85 – go right, enjoy this part of the trail. it’s awesome!!
5.3 – reach the upper trailhead. you might want to keep going to Minaret Vista to check out the views, or try the Starkweather Trail (if it’s open), climb Hard Core, or connect with Beach Cruiser, or other resort trails. Otherwise, take a breather, and head back the way you came:

Turn By Turn (in miles) for the ride DOWN:

0.0 – head down Mountain View Trail from trailhead
2.25 – veer left at Y
2.6 – go left, continue on Mountain View Trail
3.28 – go left at T, towards Dry Creek. Then veer right. You’ll go across 2 bridges and
then veer right on fire road to start climbing. This is an important junction. You need to go right and start climbing up as you curve around to the left. If you start going left/down the road, you’ll be going completely off track.
3.93 – go left on singletrack, marked with a small Mountain View Trail sign – don’t
miss this turnoff!!
5.3 – stay straight and merge with pavement. Make a left and ride back up to your car.

Mountain View, lower trailhead

Mountain View, lower trailhead

Some sweet forested singletrack

Some sweet forested singletrack

Mountain View Climb - Elevation Profile

Mountain View Climb – Elevation Profile

Mountain View Descent - Elevation Profile

Mountain View Descent – Elevation Profile

Mountain View Trail Map

Mountain View Trail Map


Ride Report: Starkweather Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

The descent down to Starkweather Lake is one of the best sections of singletrack in the area. It’s 2.5 miles of rollercoaster trail bliss. The climb back up is grueling and unrelenting, but we feel it’s worth “earning your turns” for this one. There’s only one catch – this trail is closed to bicycles most of the year. You can usually only ride for a portion of May or June and September – October. If the shuttle bus is running to Reds Meadow, it’s closed to bikes. This means it’s usually only legal once the snow melts in May or June, before the shuttle starts running for the summer – or after Labor Day when the shuttle shuts down at the end of Summer. It changes from year to year, so make sure you’re not poaching before you jump on this trail.  Combine with Mountain View, Hard Core, or the Double High Five Y if you’re up for it.  You can also shuttle it if you just want the downhill jollies without heaving up a lung.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate descent. Difficult, grueling ascent.
  • Terrain/Conditions: 100% singletrack
  • Access: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Continue past Main Lodge and go all the way up to the turnoff for Minaret Vista (just before the Forest Service kiosk to go down to Reds Meadow). Make a right for Minaret Vista, and then another quick right and park in the dirt lot. Ride back to Highway 203 and cross the road at Forest Service kiosk. The trailhead is right next to the kiosk, and you’ll see the sign a few feet up the hill (see photo).
  • Length: 5.0 miles (2.5 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,011′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,168’′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,213′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles): No directions necessary. No trail intersections. Just take Starkweather Trail all the way down to the lake. There are a few small creek crossings, switchbacks, and a couple mildly techy sections to keep your speed in check. The dirt is mostly packed with some looser pumice spots sprinkled around. For some reason, most people ride the road to get back up. I guess the climb up the trail can be intimidating, but honestly it’s not that bad. At least as not as bad as climbing Hard Core/ San Joaquin Ridge. We prefer to stay on dirt when possible, so back up the trail is the way to go!!

the trailhead sign, just across from the Forest Service kiosk

the trailhead sign, just across from the Forest Service kiosk

A view of Starkweather Lake through the pine and fir trees

A view of Starkweather Lake through the pine and fir trees

photo(1)

Starkweather Trail Map

Starkweather Trail Map

Starkweather Elevation Profile

Starkweather Elevation Profile


Ride Report: Little Smokey Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is an fairly easy ride for most riders.  You can ride it by itself if you’re short on time, or use it as a warm-up for Big Smokey Loop or Lookout Mountain LoopAlso nearby are the Little Antelope Valley Loop and Casa Diablo Overlook Ride if you want an epic day of riding in this area.  You can ride two or all three of these together if you seek a little more challenge.  They all use the same staging area.  No matter how you do it, Little Smokey offers up some majestic views of the Sherwins, San Joaquin Ridge, The Minarets and Mammoth Mountain area.

  • Ride Type:  Loop (clockwise as we describe it)
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Easy with Minimal Climbing
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go 4 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and turn right into Smokey Bear Flats.  You’ll see a kiosk and a small parking area.  The ride starts here.
  • Length: 6 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1 hour
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,627′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,921′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 332′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike, Fat Bike, 29+, pretty much any bike will do
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

This ride starts off very moderately, and continues that way.  The climbing is gradual, and the descending is fun with a couple sandy areas here and there.  Once you turn right on 3S13 (at 1.2 miles), the views open up, and you’ll forget you’re climbing. Don’t forget to gaze to the right and remember why you’re in the Eastern Sierra!! Turn by Turn (in miles): 0.0 – head out east on 3S04, it will go straight for a bit and then turn to the left .34 – continue straight on 3S04 .54 – continue straight on 3S04 .89 – continue straight on 3S04 1.2 – hit a trail junction.  Go right on 3S13 (continuing straight on 3S04 will take you on Big Smokey Loop and Lookout Mountain Loop) 1.8 – hit a junction, stay right.  There are some gorgeous views to your right, don’t forget to look!! 3.54 – veer right and head down the sandy Power Line Rd 3.75 – veer right again, staying on the Power Line Rd 4 – veer right on 3S38 4.1 – continue right yet again, staying on the main road from here on out – you will descend into Smokey Bear Flat and return back to kiosk where you began – 6 miles total.

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile

Map

Map


Ride Report: Big Smokey Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is a moderately strenuous loop for most riders.  However, if you want more, you can combo platter it with Little Smokey Loop or Lookout Mountain Loop.  Also nearby are the Little Antelope Valley Loop and Casa Diablo Overlook Ride which could make an epic day of riding in this area.  All three rides stage from the same area and you can craft your own super duper loop.  Big Smokey offers up fantastic views of Bald Mountain and the Owens River Valley early in the ride.  The classic way to ride it (and the way we describe it) is to do it clockwise.  As you head farther south, you see a chalk mine to your left as well as Antelope and Glass Mountains.  Later on as you start heading back west, The Sherwins, Laurel Mountain, McGee Mountain and Mt. Morrison present themselves.  Overall, a relaxing ride with moderate climbs to and descents to keep you alert while you zen out.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Moderate Climbing and Descending
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go 4 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and turn right into Smokey Bear Flats.  You’ll see a kiosk and a small parking area.  The ride starts here.
  • Length: 13.2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,256′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,815′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,096′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or 29+ for the sandy sections, but pretty much any mountain bike will do
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – head out east on 3S04, it will go straight for a bit and then turn to the left
.34 – continue straight on 3S04
.54 – continue straight on 3S04
.89 – continue straight on 3S04
1.2 – hit a trail junction.  Continue straight (going right will take you on Little Smokey Loop).
1.45 – stay straight/left during descent
2.5 – stay straight and start climbing
3.55 – stay straight on 3S12
4.4 – continue straight
5.85 – make a right on 3S43- it comes up quick during a fast descent, don’t miss it!  start climbing…
6.45 – veer right
7.0 – curve left, stay on 3S43
7.34 curve left again and climb
8.66 – go right
9.54 – right on 3S59
9.9 – go straight then curve left
10.4 – go straight/left
10.8 – at the T make left then quick right, head down power line rd.
11 – veer right continue following the power lines
11.2 go right, continue on this trail and it will take you back to Smokey Bear Flats and eventually the staging area
where the ride ends at 13.2 miles

View of the Long Valley Caldera and an old chalk mine

View of the Long Valley Caldera and an old chalk mine

Taking a break on a chalk bluff

Taking a break on a chalk bluff

Gorgeous views of the Sierra to the southwest

Gorgeous views of the Sierra to the southwest

Stellar Views

Stellar Views

Map

Map

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile


Ride Report: Inyo Craters Fat Double Lollipoop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

You read it right.  Double Lollipoop.  A loop within a loop with a lollipop.  We’ve taken the traditional Inyo Craters Loop and thrown some extra mustard on top.  First, we tacked on the Inyo Craters Singletrack at the beginning and end (it’s a ton of fun, and worth riding both ways.)  It’s a win-win.  You cut off a couple miles of bumpy dirt road driving, and you get a fun little section of flowy singletrack as the reward.  Second, we threw in a mini-loop, that has some sandy climbing and descending – and rewards you with some great views before linking back up with the bigger loop. This mini-loop is perfect for a fat bike, but has hike-a-bike spots for mountain bikes.  So now you know why we named it the Inyo Craters Fat Double Lollipoop.  Here are the details to get you riding:

  • Ride Type:  Loop with Lollipop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Moderately Strenuous with one tough sandy climb
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack first and last mile, otherwise double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From Mammoth, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.  Make a right on Mammoth Scenic Loop.  At 2.75 miles, turn left on 3S30 at the “Inyo Craters” sign.  Go 0.3 miles.  The road will split and there’s a dirt parking area on the right.  The ride starts here.  The singletrack is to the right, and there’s a small sign with no trail name (see photo).
  • Length: 17 miles
  • Approx. Time: 2 -3 hours (it’s fairly flat, other than the one steep climb – but it can be sandy in spots)
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,552′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,144′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,332′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike, XC Mountain Bike (a little hike-a-bike maybe, but otherwise super fun)

This ride goes around the two Inyo Craters.  If you want to see them and their lakes up close, you’ll need to leave your bike in the main parking area (you pass through it after the beginning singletrack section) and hike up – no bikes allowed.  FYI, these craters were formed from a volcanic explosion 1,500 years ago.  Pretty cool.

Soon after finishing the singletrack section, you ride out of the forest and a huge pumice flat opens up in front of you.  360 degree wicked views await, including San Joaquin Ridge and White Wing Mountain.  Next you enter a Jeffrey Pine Forest and cross Deadman Creek before paralleling the creek and curving around and starting back towards the craters.  The mini-loop climbs part of the way up Deer Mountain offering more perspective of the area, and of course, more views.  Then you meet back up with the main loop and make your way back towards the craters.  After a peaceful ride through the forest, you arrive at the main parking lot.  Lucky for you, you get to ride the singletrack back the way you came.  Nice!

Turn By Turn:

0.0 start at the trailhead sign (see photo), going up the Inyo Crater Singletrack
.72 cross the road and start grunting up the short, steep, soft climb- don’t worry it levels off quickly.
.9 arrive in the main Inyo Craters parking area.  go left past the bathrooms, and head out.  you are on 3S30.
1.2 go right on 3S22 at intersection
1.48 stay left
1.96 stay right at Y as you go out into the pumice flats, and the beautiful views open up to you (see photo)
3.0 veer right
3.8 go straight
4.2 cross a dry (usually) creek
4.85 veer right, take bridge over deadman creek, continue right
5.0 continue right at T then stay straight- views to your right, creek below you to right- sweet descent
5.5 continue straight at intersection
5.95 notice upper deadman campground on right, obsidian flat campground on left
6.0 go right, then veer left on 3S105 (lower deadman camp is to your right)
6.3 reach a big open area – veer slight right (not the dead end sign)
7.1 veer right at intersection and start the big, soft, annoying climb of the mini-loop
7.85 start short descent, be careful, then keep to the right.  you’ll climb some more, and have some views before descending back to the original trail you rode earlier
8.8 go right at T, rejoining 3S22 – you’ll now re-ride some of what you rode earlier
11.1 go straight (different than the first time you were here)
11.6 go right on 2S29 – then stay on main rd through forest
13.1 go right
14.5 veer right then stay straight towards inyo craters rd
15.1 left at T
15.5 veer left
15.8 right at T climb back to the main parking area, and head right to the singletrack
16.1 enter the singletrack to the right, and head back down to the staging area
17.0 done!!

Inyo Craters Singletrack trailhead

Inyo Craters Singletrack trailhead

Pumice Flat area with views to White Wing Mountain

Pumice Flat area with views to White Wing Mountain

Taking a break near Deadman Creek

Taking a break near Deadman Creek

Ride Map

Ride Map

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile