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

Archive for January, 2015

Road Trip – Global Fat Bike Summit 2015: Jackson, WY

Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

For the 2nd year in a row, I jammed out to the Fat Bike Summit with a crew from Mammoth.  Last year, it was in Ogden, UT – read about it here.  This year, it was at Snow King Resort in Jackson, WY.  For those that don’t know, Snow King is the O.G. ski resort right in the heart of Jackson that opened in 1930.  Gets overshadowed by Jackson Hole Resort 12 miles up the road – think of it like June Mountain compared to Mammoth Mountain, except you can night ski for $25!

Rolling from the Antler Inn to Snow King - let the Summit begin! Rolling from the Antler Inn to Snow King – let the Summit begin!

Anyhoo, jumped in the turbo diesel Jetta Wagon with Jen and Dan at 5:30am.  Bikes and skis and fritos and tangerines packed.  Wyoming bound.  After driving about 4 hours each, and Dan only stalling 3 times, we hit the town square.  Checked in…

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Ride Report: Casa Diablo Overlook – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is a fairly strenuous 10-mile loop that is just across the highway from Mammoth Lakes.  It starts with a nice climb behind the geothermal plant, giving you an interesting perspective of the area.  Long before the geothermal plant was built, this area was called Casa Diablo.  At one time, there were hot springs and an active geyser here.  It was a stagecoach stop around 1880, and tourist attraction in the 1920’s.  Even earlier than that, Native Americans had an obsidian mine here.  As you’re riding, look around at all the whitish areas on the slopes, created from geothermal activity of the Long Valley Caldera.

Archive photo of Casa Diablo tourist area and geyser in the background

Archive photo of the Casa Diablo tourist area and geyser in the background

Another shot of the old Casa Diablo Geyser

Another shot of the old Casa Diablo Geyser

Eventually you reach Antelope Springs Road and continue climbing this graded road before making a a right for a gorgeous descent down into the valley below.  The views of Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest are magnificent.  Before long, you turn right again, and start the climb to the Casa Diablo Overlook.  As you get near the top, you’ll be riding over lots of beautiful obsidian.  From the top, you can look west to Mammoth Mountain and see the geothermal plant below.  You can look to the south to see Crowley Lake and Doe Ridge, while to the east Hot Creek and the Long Valley Caldera are visible.  It’s a magnificent viewpoint and well worth the effort.  Afterwards, you complete the loop with fun descent including some rarely ridden singletrack (super fun, with a couple bits of hike-a-bike).

A very similar route, that is longer and has some more climbing,  is the Little Antelope Valley LoopBig Smokey Loop and Little Smokey Loop are also related to this ride, and can be combined for an epic day in the saddle. Confused?  Contact us and we’ll dial in a ride to suit you.

Overall, the terrain can tend to be on the sandy side in sections (especially in the summer), so this is a great ride for fat bikes or 29+ bikes.  You can do it on a regular mountain bike, but be prepared for some sandy hike-a-bike sections.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, moderate to strenuous climbing with a couple short, steep spots
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go east on the 203 (away from Mammoth) towards the geothermal plant.  Make a right turn on Old Highway 395.  After approximately 0.2 miles look for a dirt parking lot on your left.  Park here, this is where the ride starts.
  • Length: 10.0 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,106′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,924′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,449′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or 29+ because of the sandy sections, but any mountain bike will suffice.
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

Since this route isn’t signed, and it makes its way through a spaghetti network of OHV trails, we’re not going to post turn by turn directions.  We’d prefer you contact us for the gpx track/ map, which will set you up for success.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride - Map.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – Map.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride - Elevation Profile.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – Elevation Profile.

Descending towards Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

Descending towards Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

Casa Diablo Weather Station

Casa Diablo Weather Station

View from the overlook to Mammoth Mountain and the geothermal plant below.

View from the overlook to Mammoth Mountain and the geothermal plant below.

Views towards Crowley Lake and the airport from the couch.

Views towards Crowley Lake and the airport from the couch.

I love this couch that someone strategically placed up here.

I love this couch that someone strategically placed up here.

Looking back from the couch towards the radio towers.

Looking back from the couch towards the radio towers.


Ride Report: Little Antelope Valley Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is a strenuous loop that is just across the highway from Mammoth Lakes.  If you are looking for something different, want to give your lungs some work, and enjoy serenity with outstanding views – give this ride a shot.  If this ride is intriguing to you, but you want something a little shorter – try the Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – it’s very similar.  You can also tack on a little more climbing to this ride by including the short (but steep) out and back to the Casa Diablo Overlook.  If you want an epic day in the saddle, Big Smokey Loop and Little Smokey Loop connect with this route as well.  Confused?  Contact us and we’ll dial in a ride to suit you.

The Little Antelope Valley loop has three main climbs, and each is rewarded with spectacular views and smiley descents.  You start with a mild climb to get your blood pumping as you make your way around the backside of the the local geothermal plant.  As described in the Casa Diablo Overlook Ride, this is where Casa Diablo once existed.  From there, you continue climbing towards Little Antelope Valley before a speedy descent towards the valley floor.  You’re greeted with views to the Chalk Bluffs and Long Valley Caldera as you descend.  You then head south and climb some more, before the views open up again and you descend on the west side of the Hot Creek Gorge (should be short for “gorge”ous).  After making your way past an active geothermal pool (“The Jacuzzi) one last climb awaits.  The ride finishes with a short but sweet section of rarely ridden singletrack.  This last piece of ST is mostly rideable, but you’ll probably have to dismount once or twice – during a tight switchback and some techy bits.  Next thing you know, you’re back at the car wishing you took more photos.

Overall, the terrain can tend to be on the sandy side in sections (especially in the summer), so this is a great ride for fat bikes or 29+ bikes.  You can do it on a regular mountain bike, but be prepared for some sandy hike-a-bike sections.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Moderate to Strenuous Climbing
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go east on the 203 (away from Mammoth) towards the geothermal plant.  Make a right turn on Old Highway 395.  After approximately 0.2 miles look for a dirt parking lot on your left.  Park here, this is where the ride starts.
  • Length: 14.7 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,070′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,727′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,782′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or 29+ because of the sandy sections, but any mountain bike will suffice.
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

Since this route isn’t signed, and it makes its way through a spaghetti network of OHV trails, we’re not going to post turn by turn directions.  We’d prefer you contact us for the gpx track/ map, which will set you up for success.

Little Antelope Valley  Loop - Map.

Little Antelope Valley Loop – Map.

Little Antelope Valley Loop - Elevation Profile.

Little Antelope Valley Loop – Elevation Profile.

Antelope Valley Road covered in some fresh snow.

Antelope Valley Road covered in some fresh snow.

One of the many fantastic views to Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

One of the many fantastic views to Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

A little geothermal well we've named "The Jacuzzi" that you'll pass along this route.

A little geothermal well we’ve named “The Jacuzzi” that you’ll pass along this route.

Hunter enjoying some of glorious views along the Little Antelope Valley Loop.

Hunter enjoying some of glorious views along the Little Antelope Valley Loop.


Ride Report: Wagon Wheel Trail – Near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Wagon Wheel Trail is a fun little piece of trail that descends rapidly from Swall Meadows Rd. until it connects with Lower Rock Creek Rd.  As the name suggests, it used to be an old wagon trail that has deteriorated over the years.  It can get loose and sandy in sections.  There are also extended sections of slickrock and various rock gardens that make this very fun on a full suspension rig.  Not many people climb it, but if you’re a climber who likes some technical challenge with a bunch of fun slickrock step-ups, give it a shot both ways.  Most people connect it with the Sand Canyon Trail to add a little more descending and mileage. Since it’s only 2 miles, and it’s over pretty quickly, it’s not usually ridden on its own.  It’s often gets overlooked by the nearby Lower Rock Creek Trail, but if you’re shuttling LRC, it’s worth it to hit Wagon Wheel either before or after, since you drive right by it.

  • Ride Type: Point to Point – as described here
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/advanced descending skills required. Some technical rock gardens and sandy sections.
  • Time of Year: Late Spring (once snow melts off), Summer and Fall – sometimes rideable during Winter as well, depending on snow pack.
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly singletrack, with some deteriorated doubletrack.
  • Access: Heading south on Lower Rock Creek Road (also called Old Sherwin Grade on some maps), turn right on Swall Meadows Rd.  Drive approximately 0.15 miles and there will be a dirt pullout on your left.  The trail starts here.  It is unsigned.
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Lowest Elevation: 5,274′
  • Highest Elevation: 6,192′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 879′
  • Bike Recommendation: Full-Suspension MTB is best, but hardtail will work as well, or a fat bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles):

0.0 – No directions for this one.  Simply stay on the trail until it ends by merging with Lower Rock Creek Rd. after 2 miles.  If your shuttle ride is waiting for you, jump in.  Otherwise, ride back up the road, or if your lungs and legs are up for it, ride back up the trail.

Wagon Wheel Map.

Wagon Wheel Map.

Wagon Wheel Elevation Profile.

Wagon Wheel Elevation Profile.

A dusk ride down Wagon Wheel Trail.  Gorgeous views to Round Valley and the Tungsten Hills near Bishop.

A dusk ride down Wagon Wheel Trail. Gorgeous views to Round Valley and the Tungsten Hills near Bishop.


Ride Report: Winter Snow Riding in Rock Creek Canyon

Come Winter time, Rock Creek Rd. is plowed so you can drive up 6 miles past Tom’s Place to the East Fork / Sno-Park area.  This plowing is paid for by the fees collected at the Sno-Park.  It costs $5/day to park or you can get a season pass for $25.  It’s well worth it.  Don’t even consider poaching unless you want bad karma and a $94.50 ticket.  Beyond the Sno-Park, Rock Creek Rd. is gated shut and it’s open to nordic skiers, snowshoers, and other non-motorized Winter users looking to access backcountry skiing, etc.  Rock Creek Lodge remains open with limited hours during the Winter, and often shuttles people to/from the lodge via snowmobile.  Note: Snowmobiling is NOT allowed other than in conjunction with the lodge’s operations.  Once there’s enough snow, they also groom the road and a small network of nordic trails with fresh corduroy under permit from the Forest Service.  They offer great dinners and xc skiing – you should check it out.

So how does all this relate to fat bikes??  In two ways:

First, there is a summer trail that travels along the creek, all the way to Rock Creek Lake.  In the Winter, it gets packed by snowshoers and hikers.  When conditions are right, it’s one of the best snow singletrack trails you’ll encounter in the whole region.  Lots of small bridges, some technical sections, but mostly smooth, flowing goodness with a remote feeling you don’t get here in the busy season (the campgrounds that the trail passes through are bustling all Summer long).  Because it’s never groomed, it remains legal to fat bikes all Winter.

Second, there’s a window every Winter (in recent years, a fairly large window) where Rock Creek Rd has enough snow to ski, snowshoe, fat bike, etc – but not enough to groom.   During this time frame, when the road is packed via human and snowmobile power, it is legal to fat bike.  Just like everywhere else in the Inyo NF, once grooming has commenced for the season, fat biking is explicitly prohibited. 

In some parts of the Inyo, there are online grooming reports, like this one – which helps keep track of legal fat biking opportunities.  There is no online grooming report for Rock Creek Rd.  We recommend riding the snow singletrack, but if you intend to ride on the road, please call Rock Creek Lodge to confirm whether or not grooming has begun for the season. .  They are super friendly and well-versed in fat biking.  They’ll let you know the grooming status and if conditions are welcoming to fat bikes.  There might be times when it is “legal” to ride, but they’d prefer we don’t based on conditions – PLEASE RESPECT their requests.  We want to foster a good relationship with the lodge and all user groups – so please ride RESPONSIBLY and LEGALLY.

In addition,  if you do ride the road, make sure to extend courtesy to all other user groups, stay to the right, and in snowmobile tracks when possible.  Stay in control, and use proper etiquette when passing other users on the descent.  Basically, use common sense!!

Ok.  So now that all that jazz has been discussed, get up there.  It is stellar.  Definitely worth the half hour drive from Mammoth and $5.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Mostly non-technical (some rock gardens and many bridges keep you on your toes), moderate to heavy exertion based on conditions
  • Time of Year: Anytime after it’s snowed and been human-packed for the singletrack portions, and before snow grooming has begun on the Rock Creek Rd. portions
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack / Wide road
  • Access: From Mammoth, take Highway 395 south approximately 19 miles, and exit at Tom’s Place.  Drive up Rock Creek road approximately 6 miles to the Sno-Park at the winter road closure.  Park here, put $5 in the envelope at the kiosk, and put the stub on your dashboard.  
  • Length: 9.8 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,865′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,743′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 927’′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike only with 10psi or less tire pressure
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn Directions: – We are not listing directions for this one.  We’d prefer you get the GPX file from us so we can discuss the route and current conditions.  We are privileged to ride in this area, and need to make sure it’s ridden responsibly and legally.

Rock Creek Canyon Map.

Rock Creek Canyon Map.

Rock Creek Canyon Elevation Profile.

Rock Creek Canyon Elevation Profile.

Rock Creek Sno-Park

Rock Creek Sno-Park

Don't forget to pay your $5!

Don’t forget to pay your $5!

Taking a break at Rock Creek Lodge

Taking a break at Rock Creek Lodge

Along the singletrack trail to Rock Creek Lake.

Along the singletrack trail to Rock Creek Lake.

Peaceful and beautiful - taking a break near Pie in the Sky

Peaceful and beautiful – taking a break near Pie in the Sky

A snow-covered Rock Creek Lake in the background

A snow-covered Rock Creek Lake in the background

The road from Rock Creek Lake to Mosquito Flats.

The road from Rock Creek Lake to Mosquito Flats.


Fattie Style Singletrack Snow Riding on Uptown Downtown Loop

Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

Yesterday was blast and day of firsts for many Fat Bike Mammoth peeps.  Last year, a couple of us started snowshoe “fatpacking” the 4.25 mile Uptown/Downtown loop (up to the Earthquake Fault and back).  Then we’d reap the reward of our efforts by riding bikes on the glorious snow singletrack.  This year, we’re doing the same thing except for one extra ingredient – a local friend and Fat Bike Mammoth’er is now renting bikes 🙂

Getting ready to roll out in the Community Center Parking Lot Getting ready to roll out in the Community Center Parking Lot

*PLUG – if you wanna ride a fat bike, give Jen a call/text – she’s got the goods – 760-914-0675

Sooo… instead of just two or three of us getting the stoke of riding the shreddiest snow singletrack around, we were able to share it with 12 people yesterday!!  That may not seem like a lot, but for a small mountain biking/fat biking club…

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