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Posts tagged “eastern sierra

Ride Report: Moraines and Meadows Loop – Lee Vining, CA

This is one of the earliest “signed” USFS bike routes in the region.  These days, it’s rarely ridden and not many people even know it exists.  Did you know about this ride?  It’s mainly double-track and 4×4 roads, but this is still one heck of a rewarding ride!  Right off the bat, you get a great perspective of Mono Lake and Paoha Island as you wrap around to the south and get your legs warmed up.  Before long, you turn east, and start climbing toward Lower and Upper Horse Meadows.  Although this is a long, strenuous climb (as the elevation profile below will attest to), you get majestic views of the Dana Plateau and Mt. Gibbs to help you forget about your lungs and legs yelling at you.  Eventually, this climb ends and you turn to the south.  Now you’re stung with views of June Mountain as you start to drop.  Your climbing efforts are mostly done by this point.  As you wrap around Williams Butte, views of the Mono Basin hug you as you return every foot of elevation you took earlier.  You’ve gotta ride through a junkyard of sorts, before making the short climb back towards you car, and you’re done.  Good work!   Also close by are the Bennettville Ride, Saddlebag Lake Trail and the Log Cabin Mine Loop if you’re up for more riding. 

  • Ride Type:  Lollipop (loop with short out and back)
  • Difficulty: Non-technical, moderately strenuous with one sustained climbing effort
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Doubletrack, 4×4 roads
  • 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 0.9 miles and look for an interpretive kiosk with a dirt parking area to your left.  If you look closely, you’ll also see an old Forest Service sign for the “Moraines and Meadows” ride.  Park here.  *Note: Mobil Mart (open seasonally) is a great spot for post-ride grub, and you pass right by it at the junction of the 395/120.
  • Length: 11.9 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 6,769′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,898′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,484′
  • Bike Recommendation:  Any off-road bike.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start eastbound and down on Highway 120, back towards Highway 395. Ride on the dirt just to the right of the road.  The dirt will start to curve right and turn into a pronounced double track.
0.2 – Veer right at the merger with a wider dirt road, 1N15 – You’ll have a mellow warm-up climb as you get some views of Mono Lake and Paoha Island.
1.8 – After passing some trailer homes, and possibly some sketchy barking dogs, you reach the junction at Horse Meadows Rd.  Go right and shift to an easy gear.  You’ve got some climbing ahead!
2.4 – Continue straight towards Horse Meadows and ride through Lower Horse Meadows.
3.6 – Pass a cool rock formation on left.  Get ready for the steepest section of the climb.
4.2 – Summit the tough climb, continue going straight.
4.4 – Make a sharp left turn on 1N06.  Continue climbing.
4.6 – Veer right at the intersection, continue up.  You’re almost to the high point as views to the south start to open up.
6.4 – Continue straight.
7.3 – Stay straight on 1N18
7.9 – Pass a junkyard and the dirt turns to pavement for a bit.
8.5 – Go straight on the dirt, (don’t curve right on the pavement)
9.8 – Go left on 1N16
10.1 – Go right, and retrace your steps back to the car
11.9 – Finish.  Nice job!
Moraines and Meadows Ride - Map.

Moraines and Meadows Ride – Map.

Moraines and Meadows Ride - Elevation Profile.

Moraines and Meadows Ride – Elevation Profile.

The old trailhead sign, which could use some TLC.

The old trailhead sign, which could use some TLC.

Close up of the map on the old sign - as of now, this map has deteriorated and is no longer there.

Close up of the map on the old sign – as of now, this map has deteriorated and is no longer there.

Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibbs greet you as you enter Lower Horse Meadows.

Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibbs greet you as you enter Lower Horse Meadows.

These signs are rare on these old rides - reminding you to take it easy just before a steep descent on a remote part of the ride.

These signs are rare on these old rides – reminding you to take it easy just before a steep descent on a remote part of the ride.

In the middle of the long, fun descent.  Stopping to take in the views of... blah blah

In the middle of the long, fun descent. Stopping to take in the views of the Mono Basin.

Keep an eye out for these signs and the route is pretty easy to follow.

Keep an eye out for these signs and the route is pretty easy to follow.


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: The Double High Five Y

Everybody’s first response to this one is, “Huh?”

This is a great ride for climbers and endurance nuts that want to earn some great turns.  You’ve gotta be game for some lung punishment.

Its a fairly easy route to navigate, since it’s a combo platter of three classic out-and-back rides: Mountain View Trail, Starkweather Trail, and Hard Core Trail.  Starkweather and Hard Core are 5 miles each and Mountain View makes the stem of the “Y” (see the map below) – Hence the weird name.   With 3,600′ of climbing over 22 miles, it doesn’t matter what you call it – it’s a mini epic that’s worth every penny of sweat equity.  ** Note: Starkweather Trail is seasonal – so make sure it’s legal before hand.

  • Ride Type:  Three Out and Back’s
  • Difficulty:  Intermediate to advanced climbing and descending skills required.  This is some lung-buster climbing with high speed descents.
  • Time of Year:  Late Spring and Fall (dependent on when Starkweather is open)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack, Double Track
  • Access: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Make a right turn at the “Earthquake Fault” sign. Park in the lot. There is a trailhead near the bathrooms for Mountain View Trail.  Start heading up and turn right at the T to start the ride.   
  • Length: 22.3 miles
  • Approx. Time: 3-4 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,991′
  • Highest Elevation: 10,244′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 3,599′
  • Bike Recommendation: Lightweight XC mountain bike is best. Full suspension or hardtail.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

You can view turn by turn directions for each of the three rides by clicking on them above.  Traditionally we ride it this way:

  • Climb Mountain View
  • Descend Starkweather
  • Climb Starkweather
  • Climb Hard Core
  • Descend Hard Core
  • Descend Mountain View
Double High Five Y - Map

Double High Five Y – Map

Double High Five Y - Elevation Profile

Double High Five Y – Elevation Profile

 


Ride Report: Inyo Craters Singletrack – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Inyo Craters Singletrack is a sweet little section of trail that doesn’t get ridden as much as it should.  After a great flowy section, you reach a parking area where it connects with an old jeep road that takes you up to the Inyo Craters Lookout.  Here you must park your bike, as it’s illegal to ride bikes on the trails around the craters.  There are some picnic tables, interpretive signs, and it’s a nice place to hike around and eat a snack before heading back down.   This ride is short on it’s own, but splendid when combined with the Inyo Craters Loop or Inyo Craters Fat Double Lollipoop.

*Note: There are some hiking only trails up to the Inyo Craters – please do not ride your bike on those.  Stay on the route listed here.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back as described here
  • Difficulty: Easy with a couple short, steep climbs
  • Time of Year: Late Spring (once snow melts off), Summer and Fall
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack and primitive jeep road
  • Access: From Mammoth, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Make a right on Mammoth Scenic Loop. At 2.75 miles, turn left on 3S30 at the “Inyo Craters” sign. Go 0.3 miles. The road will split and there’s a dirt parking area on the right. The ride starts here. The singletrack is to the right, and there’s a small sign with no trail name (see photo).
  • Length: 2.64 miles (1.32 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 20 – 30 minutes ride time
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,058′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,230′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 224′
  • Bike Recommendation: Run what you brung.  Any off-road bike will do.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles):

0.0 – start at the trailhead sign (see photo), going up the Inyo Craters Singletrack
.72 – cross the road and start grunting up the short, steep, soft climb- don’t worry it levels off quickly.
.88 – arrive in the main Inyo Craters parking area. turn left and go past the bathrooms.
.92 – you’ll pass a hiking trail and kiosk to the right.  continue straight, don’t take the hiking trail.
.95 – reach two green poles blocking an old jeep road on the right (see photo).  enter the trail here and start climbing.
1.32 – arrive at the top.  if you want to explore here, park your bike and hike around.  when you’re done, retrace your steps back to the car.
2.64 – end of ride.

Inyo Craters Singletrack Map

Inyo Craters Singletrack Map

Inyo Craters Singletrack - Elevation Profile

Inyo Craters Singletrack – Elevation Profile

The trailhead at both ends is very incognito, with no labelled sign.  This is the trailhead at the start of the singletrack.

The trailhead at both ends is very incognito, with no labelled sign. This is the trailhead at the start of the singletrack.

A fun slice of singletrack

A fun slice of singletrack

You made it to the top.  No riding bikes past here.  Go walk around and check it out.

You made it to the top. No riding bikes past here. Go walk around and check it out.

Interpretive sign near the craters

Interpretive sign near the craters

A look down into the crater.  Gorgeous color!

A look down into the crater. Gorgeous color!

Another piece of excellent singletrack heading back down towards the car

Another piece of excellent singletrack heading back down towards the car

 


Ride Report: Inyo Craters Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

The Inyo Craters Loop is an old school Mammoth ride.  It was one of the earliest USFS signed bike routes. Other than the Inyo Craters Singletrack (which we include with our version of the loop), the terrain is pretty much jeep roads. There is moderate climbing, with some sweet views and a good tour of the area. This is a relaxing ride that’s definitely worth doing for some peaceful exercise.  If you want a little more ride time / exertion, try the Inyo Craters Fat Double Lollipoop.

This ride goes around the two Inyo Craters, which were formed from a volcanic explosion 1,500 years ago. Pretty cool.

Soon after finishing the singletrack section, you ride out of the forest and a huge pumice flat opens up in front of you. 360 degree wicked views await, including San Joaquin Ridge and White Wing Mountain. Next you enter a Jeffrey Pine Forest and cross Deadman Creek before paralleling the creek and curving around and starting back towards the craters. After a peaceful ride through the forest, you arrive at the main parking lot. Lucky for you, you get to ride the singletrack back the way you came. Nice!

**NOTE FOR WINTER / FAT BIKE RIDING – This route is usually packed by snowmobiles and trucks before grooming starts for the season.  Other than the singletrack section (which sees no Winter use) the rest is usually fun on a fat bike with low tire pressure.  Remember, once grooming starts, all groomed trails are OFF LIMITS to bikes.  Click here for the grooming report to see if it’s currently legal to ride.  Questions?  Contact us.

  • Ride Type: Loop (clockwise as described) with Singletrack out and back section
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Moderately Strenuous
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (possible late spring depending on snow pack), and early Winter (on fat bike before grooming begins).
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack first and last mile, otherwise double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From Mammoth, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Make a right on Mammoth Scenic Loop. At 2.75 miles, turn left on 3S30 at the “Inyo Craters” sign. Go 0.3 miles. The road will split and there’s a dirt parking area on the right. The ride starts here. The singletrack is to the right, and there’s a small sign with no trail name (see photo).
  • Length: 11.9 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 -2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,711′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,161′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 636′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike, Fat Bike
  • GPX File: contact us
  • More info: MammothTrails.org

Turn By Turn:

0.0 start at the trailhead sign (see photo), going up the Inyo Crater Singletrack
.72 cross the road and start grunting up the short, steep, soft climb- don’t worry it levels off quickly.
.9 arrive in the main Inyo Craters parking area. go left past the bathrooms, and head out. you are on 3S30.
1.2 go right on 3S22 at intersection
1.48 stay left
1.96 stay right at Y as you go out into the pumice flats, and the beautiful views open up to you (see photo)
3.0 veer right
3.8 go straight
4.2 cross a dry (usually) creek
4.85 veer right, take bridge over deadman creek, continue right
5.0 continue right at T then stay straight- views to your right, creek below you to right- sweet descent
5.5 continue straight at intersection
6.0 notice upper deadman campground on right, obsidian flat campground on left
6.5 go right on 2S29 – then stay on main rd through forest
8.0 go right
9.4 veer right then stay straight towards inyo craters rd
10.0 left at T
10.4 veer left
10.7 right at T climb back to the main parking area, and head right to the singletrack
11.0 enter the singletrack to the right, and head back down to the staging area
11.9 done!!

Inyo Craters Loop Map

Inyo Craters Loop Map

Inyo Craters Loop - Elevation Profile

Inyo Craters Loop – Elevation Profile

Inyo Craters Singletrack trailhead

Inyo Craters Singletrack trailhead

Pumice Flat area with views to White Wing Mountain

Pumice Flat area with views to White Wing Mountain

Crater Flats during Winter - before grooming, of course :)

Crater Flats during Winter – before grooming, of course 🙂

Taking a break near Deadman Creek

Taking a break near Deadman Creek