Mountain Bike Trails Near 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 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 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 concise period of time.
Mountain Biking Mammoth Lakes Trails & Roads
Here is a list of the Mountain Bike Trails and Forest Service roads you can ride in the Mammoth Lakes Area. Since 1985 these have been the go-to routes that I hit right from the front door of my home in Mammoth. IMHO, the best way to ride up here is to create loops and courses mixing in the numerous trails and road routes I list below. This is Neverland, so use your imagination and make a great loop.
#1 Mountain View Trail – This trail is one of the top mountain bike rides in the Inyo National Forest. The Route takes a series of single-track sections mixed in with old forest service roads that lead up to the Minaret Vista.
Along the way, you get forested areas, open spots with long-range views, and green and flowery mountain meadow sections. When you reach the Visit Point, you will be treated to some epic views of Ritter, Banner Peaks, and the Minarets. You will also get a great view of Mammoth Mountain.
The Minaret Vista area has picnic benches and bathrooms, making this a great lunch stop and photo-op area.
The Route has a total ridable vertical rise of around 780 feet with a starting elevation of 8500 feet and a peak elevation of 9155 feet at the Minaret Vista Scenic Area.
This ride features cross-country-style riding with some decent hill climbing. As for skill level, this one is for advanced-level cross-country mountain biking riders. You must also be in great shape and be capable of riding a 10-mile loop at high elevations.
The downhill ride back down Mountain View is a total blast. However, I prefer to ride up Mountain View and then link with the Mountain View connector trail into the Mountain Bike Park.
For those with bike park passes, you ride 1/2 mile down Minaret Vista Road and access the park from the Mountain View Connector Trail right by the Reds Meadow Entrance Station.
And Yes, you need at least a Bike Park Peddle Pass to enter the park. The Mountain has staff out checking to ensure people have ride tickets.
Directions: Living in Mammoth, this was an out-the-door ride for us, taking the Uptown Trail from the Village to the junction with the Mammoth Earth Quake Fault connector Trail and then right into the Mountain View Trail and up to the Minaret Vista.
If you want to ride Mountain View Trail from its start, go to the Mammoth Earth Quake Fault parking lot. A trailhead sign is right by the parking lot bathroom shed to the left.
Local Tip: This is one challenging Route due to altitude and is not advised as a family ride unless you’re all hardcore riders in great shape.
E-Bikes: Mountain View is a non-motorized USFS trail, so E-bikes are not allowed, and you can be ticketed at a minimum.
Stats: Length – 11 miles out and back, 8,500-9,130 elevation levels, 75% single track, Medium to Hard Technicality with a Hard effort
#2 Mammoth Rock Trail – This is one of the original Mountain Bike rides that people have been riding here in Mammoth Lakes since the early ’80s.
The Trail runs from near the top of Old Mammoth Road down under Mammoth Rock and then down across the face of the Sherwin Range and into the lower parts of town. If you ride this as a downhill-only run, the length is 2.6 miles from the Upper Old Mammoth Road Trail Head.
For those who want to ride this as an out and back, the lower trailhead is located on Sherwin Creek Road, a one-half mile past Sierra Meadows Ranch. There are several large propane tanks in the area of the trailhead.
Just off Sherwin Creek Road, the Trail winds its way up through an area of Manzanita bushes with some fantastic views to get started. The Trail quickly gets up into the tree line with spots that open up with great views.
At one point, you will reach a large clearing caused by the incredible avalanche of February 1986.
The last 1/2 mile of this climb is out in the open with views of Mammoth Rock, the Mammoth Meadow below, and Mammoth Mountain.
This Trail is dirt without the pumice you find on Mammoth Mountain. It does get dusty in the heat of the day during Summers that have not had much rain. The best time to be out here is during the morning hours.
Caution: Downhill riders, please slow down and watch for Horses and Hikers. This Trail has heavy usage, so expect to encounter other users.
Trail etiquette requires mountain bikers to yield to horses and hikers. If you see horses or hikers, stop and get off your bike and let them walk by… make sure to smile and say hi.
E-Bikes: At this time, Mammoth Rock Trail is a non-motorized USFS trail, so E-bikes are not allowed and will be ticketed at a minimum.
Stats: Distance approximately 6 miles Out and Back, 7,860-8,460 Elevation Levels, 100% single track, Medium Technicality, Moderate to Hard effort if you’re climbing due to altitude.
#3 Mammoth Knolls Loop: This Route is a mix of forest service roads with some single-track sections added in. There is some steep climbing, a few sandy areas, fast service roads, and single-track sections.
The views on the second half of the adventure are beyond amazing, and you can expect to want to stop and take some photos.
The ride starts with a tough climb that’s even tougher by mid-morning as the sun bakes you as you make your way up the first steeper forest service road. The rest of the ride is not as challenging, so just be ready to gut it out at the start of that first big climb.
After the first climb, you will encounter several miles of a forest service road that will eventually cross the Saw Mill Road from Shady Rest.
A sign directs your path to the other side of Saw Mill Road. That last third of the ride will be a mix of single-track and old forest service roads. This is where you will find the best views of this adventure.
The Mammoth Knolls Loop has a total ridable vertical rise of around 1000 feet with a starting elevation of 7800 feet and a peak elevation of 8400 feet. The low point of the ride takes you down to around 7500 feet in elevation.
The main route here has now been signed for some 30 years. However, the signage can still be confusing, so be ready to search and seek a bit for the blue makers you see on the Trees.
This is a fun ride for those who are very fit and have upper intermediate to advanced Mountain Biking skills.
Directions: You can park at the trailhead or ride in from town like the locals do. This one starts right by the Old Shady Rest Campground on the entrance road. There is a large sign you can’t miss.
Hot Tip: Mid-day during the Summer and early Fall, this part of the forest is hot and dry. The best time of the day for this adventure ride is the early morning hours up to around 11 AM.
Who is this ride for? 12 Miles at 8000 feet is like 20 in the flat lands, so be prepared. Extra hydration is critical; I carry a pack, two large water bottles, and many energy bars on this ride.
E-bikes: are Good To Go. This Route is on Forest Service Roads and OHV Trails.
Stats: Distance approximately 12 miles, est 7,500-8,400 Elevation Levels, 80% Service Road & 20% double track, Medium technicality, Strenuous effort, Ride Early Morning in the Summer
#4 Uptown / Downtown Loop (Ticket needed above the service garage) The Uptown / Downtown trail was built in the summer of 1991 as one of the primary single trails leading out of town and into the new Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.
Uptown starts just above the Village and winds up to Main Lodge through the Forest. There are a few rocky technical climbs for intermediates that are fun. It’s clear-packed dirt for surface conditions with just a bit of pumice.
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 and a couple of peddle-up sections you will encounter.
These two trails are a great loop ride and offer many options with other trails in and out of the mammoth mountain park they link up to.
Just be sure you understand that Uptown and Downtown are only open to the public up to the Mammoth Earth Quake Fault Border. Beyond this well-marked and signed line, you need a bike park pass or peddle pass to enter the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.
There is a loop option at this border so you can access Downtown back to town or take the connector trail up to the Mountain View Trail.
E-bikes: Are allowed on this Trail since it’s part of the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park Trail Network
Stats: Distance 9.3 miles out and back, 8,060-8,900′ elevation, 100% single track, Easy technicality & Moderate to Hard effort climbing due to altitude. Max Grade is 14% in one short section.
#5 Panorama Dome Mountain Bike Trail – This short but beautiful connector single-track trail you use to go from the Mammoth Lakes Basin to the Mammoth Rock Trail and Old Mammoth Road.
This short ride winds through a fantastic lodge pole forest with cool breezes that seem to flow all summer and fall. The Trail starts right by Mammoth Creek, so you get the sounds of rushing water at the start of this short adventure.
At times this thinned forest area also offers some great views down to Mammoth Lakes, up to the Mammoth Crest, and over to Mammoth Mountain. As you come out on the Old Mammoth Road side, you can view the Sherwin’s and the top of Mammoth Rock.
The trailhead is across from the first parking area in the Lakes Basin at Twin Lakes. The Lakes Trail from the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park drops right into this parking lot, and many park riders use this route to get to Mammoth Rock Trail and back to town.
The 1.2-mile Trail drops you into the upper section of Old Mammoth Road. Accessing the Mammoth Rock Trail is half a mile down the road.
E-Bikes: Currently, Panorama Dome Mountain Bike Trail is a non-motorized USFS trail, so E-bikes are not allowed and will be ticketed at a minimum.
Stats: 1.2 miles, 8,539-8,656 elevation, 99% single track, Medium technicality, Moderate effort
#6 Horseshoe Lake Shared Use Trail – This is a quick short ride that you can link up with the Mammoth Lakes paved trail system. The Trail starts by the back parking lot, wraps its way around the Lake, and emerges at the Mammoth Lakes Basin View Point.
There are some great views on this ride of Horseshoe Lake, the Mammoth Crest, and the backside of Mammoth Mountain.
Horseshoe is a swimming lake, so you can even take your bike down to the shoreline and then go for a swim. Just off the Trail, you can access all the private coves and beaches horseshoe lake offers.
This Trail is shared with hikers and many dogs running off-leash, so beware.
Local Tips: I like to ride up the Mammoth Lakes Paved Trail System path and then take this to get a quick dirt fix into the ride. It’s also good to know that during significant snow years, the back areas of this Trail can flood out.
E-Bikes: At this time, Horseshoe Lake Mountain Bike Trail is a non-motorized USFS trail, so E-bikes are not allowed and will be ticketed at a minimum.
Stats: 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.
#7 Mammoth Connector / Back Meadow Single Track – Located off the Sherwin Creek road by the Mammoth Rock Trailhead, the back meadow, and connector trails create a nice loop to ride right under the Sherwins and Mammoth Mountain East Bowl. Mammoth Rocks are nearby, adding to the scenic wonder of riding in this area.
The trails are basic and easy to ride, with easy climbing, short downhills, and flat cross-country actions. This area is used during the Summer months for the Local VC Mountain Bike Races that have been around for decades in Mammoth Lakes.
#8 Shady Rest Single Track – This is a fun single-track loop located right out of town next to Shady Rest Park. Some of the route winds through the Disc Golf Course, so you must watch for Freebies.
What you will find here is some beginner cross-country action that wraps through a Jeffery Pine Forrest. The Trail is mainly packed with firm dirt with just a few soft sections. If I were camping next door at Shady Rest, I would have the kids do laps on this fun, easy Trail.
E-Bikes: At this time, Shady Rest Mountain Bike Single Track Trail is a non-motorized USFS trail, so E-bikes are not allowed and will be ticketed at a minimum.
#9 Mammoth Scenic Loop Single Track – This Trail originates from within the Mammoth Knolls residential area and also from just above the entrance to the scenic loop.
It’s a bit hard to see at first, but if you scout out this Trail, you will see it running alongside the Scenic Loop road on the right side as you drive from Highway 203.
This Trail runs down to the trail junction for the Inyo Craters Loop. You can also link up to the Mammoth Knolls Loop and the Mammoth Knoll Overlook trail
#10 Mammoth Knolls Overlook Single Track Trail – I need to map this out for you soon. This single track is on the Mammoth Knolls Loop at the top of the first extensive climbing section. The Trail takes you to an excellent overlook viewpoint with views of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Mountain, and the Sherwins.
#11 395 Single Track – This Trail starts at the end of Saw Mill Road at 395. It’s all single-track packed dirt that does get dusty and a bit soft during arid periods in the weather. The Trail is best ridden as a downhill ride
Forest Service Road Rides – These roads can offer up some great fun. All these forest service roads see a lot of 4 x 4 and truck traffic, and that can create soft and sandy sections.
The best time to ride on any of them is when it first melts out in the spring and then during the summer and fall seasons after moderate rains have moved through the area.
Most forest service roads within a few miles of town are not sandy, but there are a few sections to watch for.
The other good time to ride is after moderate to heavy Summer and Fall rains move through the area.
If you look at the forest service OHV Use Map, you will see miles of routes not listed below. So get out there, check it out, and see what you can come up with. Below are the roads I have ridden over the years.
Sawmill Road – This road comes from the lower part of town and the Shady Rest area. The road winds through the Forest for several miles before it comes out near the end of the Mammoth Scenic Loop, where it meets 395.
There is a tunnel at this junction that you can use to cross under 395 without worrying about high-speed traffic. The tunnel exit comes out right near the start of the Big and Little Smokey Bear loop rides and the road that will lead you to the ride up Bald Mountain.
E-bikes: Are allowed on all Forest Service Roads, including Sawmill, the Smokey Loops, Bald Mountain Route, Laural Lakes Road, Sherwin Creek Road, and Mammoth Creek Road
Mammoth Creek Road – This forest service road winds through the Forest from Old Mammoth Road down to the 395 and 203 highway junctions.
The road follows Mammoth Creek, and you can take small off-chute roads right to the creek in several places. About 1/2 way down, a bridge will allow you to cross over Mammoth Creek into the Sherwin Creek Campground.
The road winds down through the Jeffery Pine Forest about 800 vertical feet. Of course, that means it’s all uphill on your ride back into Mammoth Lakes, so be prepared with lots of water and carbs to fuel you back to town.
This is a fun dirt road to ride on, and it’s not a high-use area, so it’s an excellent place to go when the town gets crowded during peak summer weekends.
E-Bikes: Are allowed on this route.
Sherwin Creek Road – This out-and-back ride is on a forest service dirt road that will take you out past the Mammoth Moto Cross, the Sherwin Creek Campground and through some Jeffery Pine forests, and then into a vast open area that ends right at Highway 395.
There are a bunch of off-chute routes and trails you can ride here. Mid Summer, during the dry times, the road can get rutted severely along with a softer dusty surface. The best time to hang out here is early spring after a good rain.
Mammoth Lakes Paved Bike Paths – The Mammoth Lakes Paved Trail System is one of the best assets the town has invested in over the last 20 years.
This series of double-wide paved trails cover much of the town of Mammoth Lakes and is a great place to ride your mountain bike out of the dirt.
There are three main pathways, the Town Loop, the Lakes Basin Pathway, and the Shady Rest Path. You can ride from 7,500 feet to the 9000-foot level linking the Town Loop with the Lakes Basin Path.
I love to ride these paths, and they offer up some great views and fast pavement to ride on. The networks of trails extend from Skate Park to Shady Rest Park to Town and up to Horseshoe Lake.
During peak Summer Vacation time, the Lakes Basin Path can have many people simultaneously spread out on the path. Slow down and pass people with caution.
E-Bikes: Yes, you can take your class 1 E-Bike on the Town Paved Trails