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

Ride Report: Bennettville Trail near Yosemite, CA

The Bennettville ride is a must do if you’re in the area.  It’s right by the gate to Yosemite, and takes you back to a time in the 1880’s when this area was being mined for silver.  The trail is an old mining road (much of it is actually on the old Great Sierra Wagon Road) that has narrowed into great singletrack in many parts.  It takes you to the ghost town of Bennettville, where two buildings are still standing – an office and a large barn.  On the way there, you pass by small reflecting lakes and the Great Sierra Tunnel.  This mining tunnel goes over 1,700′ into the earth.  A pretty amazing feat.

Now, the tunnel is gated off and there’s a small water stream trickling out.  There is still old mining equipment laying around as well, and you can see the old rail tracks going into the mine.

This ride is pretty short, so you might want to combine it with one or more of these other rides in the area:  Saddlebag Lake Trail, Log Cabin Mine Loop, or Moraines and Meadows Ride.

  • Ride Type:  Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Non-technical, pretty easy
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Historic Wagon Road with many singletrack sections
  • 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 up Tioga Pass for 10.95 miles and look for an unmarked turn-off to the right (opposite Tioga Lake).  It’s a little hard to find, as it’s no longer labeled or signed (some of the older guidebooks state there’s a Bennettville sign, but as of 2014, it’s no longer there).  If you’ve reached the Tioga Lake Overlook, you’ve just past it.  Head back down with your eyes peeled to the left, and you’ll see the turnout easier heading down the mountain.  You can also park at the Tioga Lake Overlook and just ride your bike down to the ride start.  The ride begins where the boulders are blocking the old mining road.
  • Length: 2.92 miles
  • Approx. Time: 30 – 45 minutes (or more if you spend time hiking around the area)
  • Lowest Elevation: 9,734′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,873′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 307′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – ride starts at the boulders blocking the road
0.12 – veer left then soon start climbing.  views of Tioga Lake to the right
1.0 – reach a tough shale climb
1.18 – reach the Great Sierra Tunnel
1.34 – go right and Mine Creek by stepping over the logs.  continue straight climbing up rocky stairs and rejoin the singletrack.  go right, towards the old buildings
1.46 – arrive at barn.  park your bike and explore a bit on foot before retracing your ride back to the car.
2.92 – ride ends at the boulders, where it began

Bennettville Map

Bennettville Map

Bennettville Elevation

Bennettville Elevation

Ride starts at the boulders that block the old mining road.

Ride starts at the boulders that block the old mining road.

Remnants of the old mines in the side of the mountain

Approaching the Great Sierra Tunnel

The Great Sierra Tunnel

Old mining equipment out front of The Great Sierra Tunnel

Another view of the Great Sierra Tunnel.

Another view of the Great Sierra Tunnel, which now has a gate in it to keep people from exploring.

Notice on the old barn

Notice on the old barn

The two remaining buildings in Bennettville

The two remaining buildings in Bennettville – an office and a larger barn.

It's amazing these buildings have lasted so well over the years

I’d sure love to use this barnwood as my floors 🙂 – Just kidding.

 

 

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4 responses

  1. I like to link Bennitville and Saddlebag Lake Trail together for a big ride thanks for sharing. So Nice.

    August 21, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    • They are easy to link with 1-2 miles of riding on tioga pass. Also good food at tioga resort which is right between the two.

      August 21, 2014 at 5:02 pm

  2. Pingback: Ride Report: Saddlebag Lake Trail near Yosemite, CA |

  3. Pingback: Ride Report: Moraines and Meadows Loop – Lee Vining, CA |

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