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

Ride Report: Tobacco Flats – near Mammoth Lakes, CA

In the mood to pedal hard and be rewarded with stellar views?  If so, this ride is for you.  If building lactic acid up in your legs isn’t in the cards, don’t bother.  Tobacco Flats is a beautiful area accessed off of Mt. Morrison Rd.  As you ride up the canyon, you’re confronted with Mt. Morrison straight ahead, McGee Mountain to your left (you can see portions of the road that switchbacks its way to the top) and Laurel Mountain to your right.  We call this ride a “Tootsie Roll Loop” because you have out-and-backs at both ends, and a loop in the middle.  Towards the end of the strenuous upper out-and-back portion of the ride, you are rewarded with a rare perspective of Convict Lake at an overlook point.  Take a moment to soak it in.  Then it’s just a short burst to the top of the climb before turning around beginning the invigorating descent.  Before you know it, you’ve dropped 1,600′ and are back at your car.  Fantastic!

  • Ride Type:  Tootsie Roll Loop (Loop with out and back at each end)
  • Aerobic Difficulty: Steep climbing is strenuous, strong legs and lungs a must
  • Technical Difficulty: Non- technical
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly doubletrack – gorgeous scenery.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 395  and the 203 at Mammoth Lakes, drive south on the 395 for 5.2 miles and exit at Mt. Morrison Rd.  Drive 0.2 miles and turn left at the cemetery.  Drive another 0.1 miles and park near the Snowmobile Information Kiosk next to the green building.  The ride starts here. 
  • Length: 8.5 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,026′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,417′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,647′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike, although fat bikes and plus bikes seem to enjoy the potentially soft conditions the best.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Ride start.  Head south on the pole line dirt road from the Snowmobile Information Kiosk.

0.8 – At the junction, continue straight/right and start climbing towards the west.
2.4 – Continue straight.
2.6 – Continue straight.  Shortly after, reach a 4-way intersection.  Go right, continue climbing
2.8 – Veer right at the Y.  Continue climbing.
3.3 – It flattens for a brief moment.  Enjoy the break, continue straight, and climb some more.
3.8 – You reach a flat open area.  The best viewpoint for the Convict Lake is here.
4.0 – Reach the end of the trail.  Time to start the descent, back the way you came.
4.2 – Pass the Convict Lake Lookout again – make sure to take a photo if you haven’t already!
5.4 – You reach the 4-way intersection where you started the “out-and-back” at mile 2.6.  Continue straight to finish off the loop.  Buckle up for a fast and beautiful descent!!  Stay on this road as it loops around to the north right above Highway 395.
7.7 – You reach the junction from mile 0.8.  You’ve finished the loop, now turn right to start backtracking to your car.  One short, steep climb and then the final descent to the finish.
8.5 – Ride ends at the Snowmobile Information Kiosk.  Pat yourself on the back.  Great ride!

Tobacco Flats Ride - Map

Tobacco Flats Ride – Map

Tobacco Flats Ride - Elevation Profile

Tobacco Flats Ride – Elevation Profile

Riding up through the flats towards Laurel Mountain

Riding up through the flats towards Laurel Mountain

A great view of Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain from the overlook

A great view of Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain from the overlook

Descending back toward Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountain Ridge.  You can see some snow-capped peaks in the White Mountains off  in the distance.

Descending back toward Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountain Ridge. You can see some snow-capped peaks in the White Mountains off in the distance.

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4 responses

  1. Rick

    I would definitely like to try that ride on a fatty. I’ve done it on my Fargo with 2″ tires and the numerous soft spots just ate me up.

    February 10, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    • Yes much better on a fatty or a 29+ with 3″ tires and low pressure- also best early season before motos soften it up…

      February 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm

  2. Nice that’s tobacco flats I want that gpx file.

    February 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

  3. Pingback: Local Exploration – Finally did the McGee Mountain Climb | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

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