"Not all those who wander are lost." – J.R.R. Tolkien

Ride Report: Silver Canyon Ride – Bishop, CA

The Silver Canyon Ride has an average 13.7% grade, and is one of the most brutal climbs in the area.  It’s on par with the Laurel Lakes Ride in terms of climbing treachery.  It’s also the first/toughest part of the White Mountain EpicAfter parking at the Laws Museum, engaging in nervous small talk, and applying ample chamois cream, you saddle up.  A peaceful climb eases the nerves and warms the legs.  You are cruising up the famous Silver Canyon Rd.  After not too long, that elementary climb turns into a grueling effort that has your lungs puffing out of your chest like Lou Ferrigno.  From 4,000′ to 10,800′ over 11.6 miles we go.  Silver Canyon is a grueling rite of passage climb.  Make sure your brake pads are fresh and your wits are perky.  The Silver Canyon descent is FAST and DANGEROUS.  Especially when you’re fatigued.  When it was raced in 1986 as the Plumline Ultimate Kamikaze,  they put nets and barricades up around the dangerous turns to keep people from flying off the mountain.  There were also ambulances at the ready, and yes, they were necessary.   There will be no ambulances, no barricades, nothing.  So BE WARNED.  Read Alan’s blog on Silver Canyon for a personal account of riding this trail, and the White Mountain Peak Challenge blog which has a ton of info and photos of Silver Canyon as well.

Note:  Much of this ride is very remote.  Please be self-sufficient and carry plenty of water and nutrition as well as items to fix your bike in a jam.  Weather frequently changes as well, so be ready for anything!!

  • Ride Type:  Out and Back – as described here
  • Difficulty:  Advanced climbing and descending skills required.  Have fresh brake pads for the descent!
  • Time of Year:  Summer and Fall
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly doubletrack/ jeep road with numerous creek crossings
  • Access: Park at the Laws Railroad Museum on Silver Canyon Rd. (off Hwy 6 out of Bishop).  The ride starts here.  Just head east on Silver Canyon Rd
  • Length: 22.6 miles total (11.3 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 3-5 hours, maybe more depending on skills and comfort level
  • Lowest Elevation: 4,114′
  • Highest Elevation: 10,504′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 6,483′
  • Bike Recommendation: Lightweight XC mountain bike is best. Full suspension or hardtail.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles):

No turn by turn directions necessary here.  Simply climb up Silver Canyon Road.  Stay on the main road and don’t take any spur trails that might pop up.  You’ll do about 8 creek crossings and pass a gate around 8 miles in.   Then it gets really steep with a bunch of switchbacks.  Keep trucking until you reach White Mountain Road at 11.3 miles.  Turn around and head back to your car at Laws.  Pat self on back.

Silver Canyon Map

Silver Canyon Map

Silver Canyon Elevation Profile

Silver Canyon Elevation Profile

Looking down from the steep switchback after the gate

Looking down from the steep switchback after the gate

One of the steep climbs you have to look forward to.

One of the steep climbs you have to look forward to.

Silver Canyon Road with the Eastern Sierras in the background

Silver Canyon Road with the Eastern Sierras in the background

Junction of Silver Canyon Road and White Mountain Road

Junction of Silver Canyon Road and White Mountain Road

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