Ride Report: Yost Meadows Trail – June Lake, CA
Yost Meadows Trail is one of the most under-rated and overlooked trails around. It’s super easy to access, with parking right off the June Lake Loop. The first mile or so is brutal climbing, with no warmup, that usually involves serious granny-gear pounding or hike-a-bike if you’re on a singlespeed (like me). But the views you get of June Lake and Gull Lake make you forget that you’re wheezing and gasping for dear life. Take a moment to soak it in. The climbing mellows a bit after this point as you spin through alpine meadows and aspen groves. By this point, you’re probably imagining how much bliss this singletrack will be on the way back down! Eventually you enter the ski area- and the trail descends a little before crossing under the lift and climbing some more. The trail is usually pretty easy to follow, but it might be good to load the gpx file (contact us to request the file) especially if any snow has fallen. Also, you must be aware that you have to stop at 3.6 miles and turn around. There is a boundary here for the Owens Headwaters Wilderness Area and bikes are strictly prohibited past this point. Last time we rode it, there was no visible “Wilderness Boundary Sign” so it’s on you to be responsible. You MUST NOT RIDE YOUR BIKE IN THE WILDERNESS AREA. We recommend using an app on your phone or carry a GPS device so that you can track your mileage. Feel free to park the bike and continue hiking past this point. By foot, you can get to Yost Lake and Fern Lake – both great spots to eat some grub and relax. Anyhoo, once you turn around, it’s pretty much rip-roaring downhill fun all the way back to the car. There are hikers once in a while, so be wary – and remember to stay in control in the exposed areas and steep switchbacks. Now go ride!
Note: The best part of the trail (arguably) is the 2.2 miles from the parking area to the ski area – so that’s a good turnaround point as well, if you want to cut the ride a little short or don’t want to mess with getting near the Wilderness Boundary
- Ride Type: Out and Back
- Difficulty: Advanced climbing and descending skills required. This is a lung-buster climb with exposed descents.
- Time of Year: Summer and Fall (possibly early Winter/ late Spring depending on snowfall)
- Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack, with some loose/sandy sections
- Access: From Mammoth, take Highway 395 north for 20 miles to the southern turnoff for the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158). Drive for about 2 miles. You’ll reach the Fire Station and the Balancing Boulder on the right side of the road. The dirt parking lot is on the left, directly across from the fire station. You’ll see the trail sign.
- Length: 7.2 miles total (3.6 to the Owens Headwaters Wilderness Boundary)
- Approx. Time: 1.5 – 3 hours, depending on skills and comfort level
- Lowest Elevation: 7,718′
- Highest Elevation: 9,250′
- Total Elevation Gain: 1,678′ (with around 1,500′ coming in the first 3.6 miles – ouch!)
- Bike Recommendation: Lightweight XC mountain bike is best. Full suspension or hardtail. If riding after snow has fallen, a fat bike might be best 🙂
- GPX File: Available by contacting us
- More Info: Check out the Mountain Biking Mammoth Book
Turn by Turn (in miles):
0.0 – Start heading up from the trailhead sign (see photo). You’ll quickly pass by a large kiosk with a map. The trail is wide at first, but narrows soon. The climbing is relentless.
.75 – The climbing starts to ease up, but is still tough. You leave the exposed mountainside and head inward a bit. The riding gets a little easier, but the views are diminished.
2.2 – Reach the Ski Area. Here you merge with a wide ski run and descend for a short bit. Look to your left and find the singletrack. Jump on this and start climbing again. This area of the trail is sometimes faint, but more recently has been defined well by rocks, etc.
2.9 – Cross a small creek
3.6 – Reach the Wilderness Boundary. Turn around here and retrace your ride back to the car. Enjoy the sweet trip back – you earned these turns!!