Things to Do Besides Mountain Biking

There are endless activities to take in and do here in the Southern Eastern Sierra. The time of year you visit will determine what activities you can participate in. Below is a list of some of our Family’s favorite things to do over the last 30 years we have lived here.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Area: In My Opinion, Skiing Midweek at Mammoth Mountain is the best thing to do in the Eastern Sierra. Nothing beats the miles of groomers and the off-piste wind buff that rules the Mountain from November through March. The spring snow season runs from April to June, with many seasons seeing the closing day on July 4th. The average season is November into June.

Scenic Gondola Rides: Riding to the top of Mammoth Mountain is a fantastic experience. The views are breathtaking and beyond compare once as you ride to the top of the Mountain.

At the top station, you will have a 360-degree view of the Eastern Sierra and the Sierra Nevada. You will also get a chance to get a picture of the famous Mammoth Mountain Sign at 11,053 feet.

There is also an interpretative center with more information about the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth Mountain, and the mountain peaks from this high elevation. Click here to learn more and view a video preview of the ride up to the top of Mammoth Moutain.

Woolly’s Adventure Park: Located on Highway 203, about two miles from the Village, this adventure area is the home of Family Fun. During the winter, there is snow play and a tube park. During the Summer, they plan to host all the fun ropes and adventures that have been up at Main Lodge for years. Last Summer, they installed a mountain roller coaster, so there’s to do here while the park gets built.

Mammoth Earthquake Fault: It is a 2-mile drive up Highway 203 from the Village at Mammoth. This is a great little side adventure to see a deep fault line up close. During significant snowfall years, snow will fall on the fault into September. Here is the link to more information.

Minerate Vista Overlook and Picnic Area: As a local, I drive up here weekly during the Summer and Fall months. The view is gorgeous, and you get a great view over to the west side of the Sierra. The Vista is 2 miles past the Main Lodge at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Here is the link for more information.

Mammoth Lakes Paved Trail System: One of the best improvements ever made in Mammoth Lakes is these fantastic paved Trails. My Family and I have used them almost daily for years. These trails offer great views and some forested sections.

Try the Mammoth Lakes Basin Path that starts at the Mammoth Brewing Company in town and finishes at Horseshoe Lake. In the Summer, a shuttle will take you to the top of this path, and then you can walk or ride your bike the 4 miles back to town. Link to more information.

Shady Rest Park: During the Spring, Summer, and Fall, this is the place to take the kids for typical playtime. There are swings and playground equipment, along with tables. Want to shoot some hoops? Yep, they’ve got you covered here.

Shady Rest Disc Golf Course: This is an 18-hole disc golf course in Jeffery Pine Forest, next to the Shady Rest Campground and Park. It is a great course and takes about 2 – 1/2 hours to play the entire course. It does get hot mid-day during the summer, so bring a hat and lots of water.

Here is the link to get more information.

Snow Creek Meadow: Just off Old Mammoth Road on Minaret Road is the entrance to this walk-only Meadow. This is a great chance to walk through a wetland area. During the late spring into the Summer months, you will find tons of wildflowers in this area. Once Fall hits, the colors are amazing as you stroll through the Meadow. Link to more information

The Mammoth Lakes Basin: This area is one of the premier recreation spots near Mammoth Lakes, especially in Summer. It offers camping, boating, hiking, fishing, walking, and biking. There are also three marines, two restaurants, and 8 miles of paved trail for those who don’t want to hike in the dirt.

During the winter, the Main Road is closed and gets groomed as the basin turns into the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Area. You still have a groomed access path to snowshoe up during these months.

Crystal Lake Hike: One of our favorite family hikes in the Mammoth Lakes Basin. We like to hike up this trail early and then lunch on the shoreline or rock cliffs. The views here are amazing, and the lake is a perfect high-country hangout. During the peak of the Summer heat, this is one of the spots where the Family would hike and go for a swim. Here is a link to learn more about the Crytal Lake Hike.

Mammoth Consolidated Mine: Located just above the Cold Water campground, this is an old mining camp or what’s left of it. When you’re in the Lake Basin, take 30 minutes to check it out. Here’s a link to more information.
Hayden Cabin, the Mammoth Museum: Located on Mammoth Creek just off of Old Mammoth Road, this is a must-stop if you’re coming up during the summer season. They have some great old Mammoth photos and artifacts that tell the story of the Mammoth area. Here is the link to learn more.
Hiking Trails: You can access hundreds of miles of hiking trails from Mammoth Lakes and the Bishop Area. Many trails are day hikes that range from 3 hours to full-day adventures. In the Mammoth Lakes Basin, you can access Crytal Lake, MC Load, Duck Lake, and several others. Just outside of Mammoth Lakes is the Sherwin Lake Trail Head, located on Sherwin Creek Road.
Rock Creek Canyon Road also has several trails for day hikes and access to the backcountry. The Upper Rock Creek Canyon Trail from the Sno Park Park lot is a fun hike in this area, as is the Lower Rock Creek Canyon Trail. ( Boh Rock Creek Canyon Trails Allow Mountain Bikes, so YES, Bikes Are Legal Here.)
Mammoth Rock Trail: This is the premier shared-use trail in Mammoth Lakes, used by hikers, horses, and mountain bikers. The trail starts near the old mammoth back meadow off Sherwin Creek Road.
This one starts with a single track in the Manzanita bushes and then quickly enters the Alpine tree line. The last third comes out of the trees, and the views of Mammoth Lakes, Mammoth Rock, the Sherwins, and Mammoth Mountain are amazing. Mountain Bikers, this is not a trail for downhill speed, so take that in mind when you ride, get off your bike, and wait if you see horses.
Hot Creek Fish Hatchery: Once you get on 395, you will find the Hot Creek Hatchery on the way to Hot Creek on Airport Road, about 5 minutes south of Mammoth. Click the link for more information.
Fishing: There is so much to fish in this region you can spend several years and still not cover it all. The best fishing is out on Crowley Lake, fly fishing with midges. You can learn more about some of our favorite areas to fish at this link.

June Lakes Loop

Mono Basin National Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center: This is a must-see on any Summer trip up to the Eastern Sierra. There is a museum along with some great views of Mono Lake. Here is the link to learn more.

June Lake Loop: If you’re coming up to the Eastern Sierra, make sure you plan a day on the June Lake Loop. We like to start our day with a morning on June Lake Beach. During the am, the winds are calm, and there are not a lot of people around until around noon.

At noon, you can head down the loop and fish Rush Creek. There are lots of places to pull off the road so you can access and fish the creek.  After some time fishing, if you head north on the loop, you will get some great views of the Canyon and, eventually, Grant Lake. You can learn more about the loop at this link.

Rock Creek Canyon: This area is a four-season wonderland with plenty of Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Mountain Biking, and Boating during the Summer. This link has some amazing photos from Upper Rock Creek Canyon.

Bishop Area

Bishop Creek Canyon: Hiking, Fishing, Rock Climbing, OHV 4 x 4, Mountain Biking, SUP and Boating

Bishop Golf Course: 18 Holes of pure fun with fabulous views of the Eastern Side of the Sierra. They even have great food to fill your belly. The course is open year-round and only closes when Bishop gets snowed, which is rare nowadays.

Laws Rail Road Museum: I recommend everyone visiting the Eastern Sierra to experience this unique museum setting. You’ll find 11 acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits, including the original depot and steam locomotive, the Slim Princess. Experience what life was like over 100 years ago in the Owens Valley. Click here for more information.

Mill Pond Park & Disc Golf: This is a great place to hang out just at the bottom of the Sherwin Grade. There is an entire 18-hole disc golf course to keep you busy for hours. Have Kids? The park has a playground for energy output. Click here for more information.

Bishop City Park: Over the years, we have spent many hours at Bishop City Park enjoying the warmer climate and being out of the snow. This is a great place to have lunch and let the kids out to play without all the snow in Mammoth Lakes. You will see many Mammoth locals down here during the winter months trying to get a taste of winter below the snowline. Click here for more information.

Winter Time Fun in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Mountain Opening Weekend: This is scheduled for each season’s Friday before Veterans Day. It is a fun-packed weekend with minimal terrain open unless there has been an early snowfall. The opening weekend can be moved up if the ski area gets an early-season dump.

Night of Lights: Held the 3rd Saturday of December each year at Canyon Lodge, this is the 4th of July for Christmas, with ground and sky Fireworks, a skier torchlight parade, and more. This is a fun family event. I recommend everyone put this on their bucket list. I have been 15+ times, and it’s always a ton of fun with lots of fireworks and happy holiday people.

Snow Shoeing: Winter Time offers miles of endless snow you can snowshoe through. Try a shoe up to Minerat Vista or a stroll through the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Both those are groomed routes you can take, or if you’re in extra good shape, you can try snow showing through deep powder, making your own path.

Cross-Country Skiing: Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern High Sierra have some incredible Cross-Country skiing options. Your choices and where to go will be determined by the weather, snowpack depth, and the month of winter you come to Mammoth Lakes.

The best cross-country skiing will always be in the Mammoth Lakes Basin at the Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center. As we get into winter, the snow levels and colder air move into the lower elevations, giving you many options for Cross-Country skiing beside the Tamarack Resort in the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

Click here to learn more and view a video preview of the Tamarack Cross Country Ski Center.

Snowmobiling is a blast in the Mammoth area. However, the fun is dictated by how much snow we have. During years of average and above snowfall, the amount of riding you will find is fantastic.

If you’re new to the sport, you should take a two-hour trip with Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures in the Main Lodge area. Click here to learn more and view a video preview of a ride with Mammoth Snowmobile Adventures.

Ice Skating: There are several options for ice skating in the Eastern Sierra. The Town of Mammoth Lakes has a new Ice Rink at the end of the Old Mammoth Road commercial section at Mammoth Creek Park. The ice rink is a multi-use facility that offers activities year-round for families or individuals. Here is a link to the Mammoth Lakes Ice Rink website.

During drier winters, many bodies of water are also skateable in the backcountry and at lower locations in the Eastern Sierra. A Google search will help you discover some hidden gems you can skate.

Sledding: The Snowman loves Sledding, and snow plays with the Family in Mammoth Lakes. On storm days when the hill is mainly shut down, Sledding can keep you and your kids occupied for hours. Our Family has come to love the sport of Sledding so much that we design and build our own courses in our yard.

Almost nothing beats a couple of hours of Sledding with the Family on the hills around your yard, the town, or the Eastern Sierra. Grab the kids, helmets, and a variety of sleds, and get ready for some major fun. Click here to learn more.

Winter Hiking / Walking: Depending on the snow levels, you will find some fun hiking/walking options during the winter months. First, during the drier snow seasons, the Mammoth Lakes town trail system is an excellent option for a walk. The paved trails that start by the Blue Park off of Old Mammoth Road are the best places to venture as they’re the most likely paths to be free of snow and ice.

The second option is the Lower Rock Creek Trail, about 10 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, just past Toms’s place if you’re heading south on Highway 395. This trail holds ice and snow, so be prepared even if the terrain is snow-free.

Winter Fishing: The Owens River and the Hot Creek area are open during winter. Yes, it’s cold, and your hands will freeze, so be prepared. Fishing the Owens River out of Bishop is my call for winter fishing. Here are some links to read and learn where to fish in the Wintertime. Link 1 is to a Western Outdoor News post, and link 2 takes you to the Visit Bishop Winter Fishing Page.

Winter Mountain Biking: For the hearty soul who knows how to layer up for cold biking, there are a ton of trails to ride during the winter months, depending on the snow line’s elevation.

When the snow line is above 7500 feet near Mammoth, you can ride many forest service roads. You will find many unmapped single-track trails off these service roads to explore.

Rock Creek Canyon is amazing for downhill action. You can shuttle back up from the bottom using two cars. During the winter, you can ride back up the trail or use the road if you’re unable to shuttle. Watch for ice on the road, as it’s in the shade most of the winter months.

The Bishop area also has many trails you can ride during winter, and the temperatures are more favorable than in the high country. Check out my new Mountain Bike website, which has more information on where to ride; here is the link.

Rock Creek Canyon Snow Park: 3 miles up from Toms Place, there is parking for access to snow play up in Rock Creek Canyon. Here is the USFS Information Page for the snow park.

Winter in Spring Pond Skim: In most seasons, this event is in mid-April at Canyon Lodge. Fifty people in costume sign up to compete for the honor of being the winner of this crazy event. I have no idea what they win.