Ride Report: Moraines and Meadows Loop – Lee Vining, CA
This is one of the earliest “signed” USFS bike routes in the region. These days, it’s rarely ridden and not many people even know it exists. Did you know about this ride? It’s mainly double-track and 4×4 roads, but this is still one heck of a rewarding ride! Right off the bat, you get a great perspective of Mono Lake and Paoha Island as you wrap around to the south and get your legs warmed up. Before long, you turn east, and start climbing toward Lower and Upper Horse Meadows. Although this is a long, strenuous climb (as the elevation profile below will attest to), you get majestic views of the Dana Plateau and Mt. Gibbs to help you forget about your lungs and legs yelling at you. Eventually, this climb ends and you turn to the south. Now you’re stung with views of June Mountain as you start to drop. Your climbing efforts are mostly done by this point. As you wrap around Williams Butte, views of the Mono Basin hug you as you return every foot of elevation you took earlier. You’ve gotta ride through a junkyard of sorts, before making the short climb back towards you car, and you’re done. Good work! Also close by are the Bennettville Ride, Saddlebag Lake Trail and the Log Cabin Mine Loop if you’re up for more riding.
- Ride Type: Lollipop (loop with short out and back)
- Difficulty: Non-technical, moderately strenuous with one sustained climbing effort
- Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
- Terrain/Conditions: Doubletrack, 4×4 roads
- Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and 395 at Mammoth Lakes, drive north on the 395 for 25 miles. Exit and go left on Highway 120/ Tioga Pass. Drive 0.9 miles and look for an interpretive kiosk with a dirt parking area to your left. If you look closely, you’ll also see an old Forest Service sign for the “Moraines and Meadows” ride. Park here. *Note: Mobil Mart (open seasonally) is a great spot for post-ride grub, and you pass right by it at the junction of the 395/120.
- Length: 11.9 miles
- Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 6,769′
- Highest Elevation: 7,898′
- Total Elevation Gain: 1,484′
- Bike Recommendation: Any off-road bike.
- GPX File: Available by contacting us
Turn by Turn (in miles):