This loop is an oldie but goodie that we originally came across in the guidebook – “Mountain Biking the Eastern Sierra’s 100 Best Trails”. The tread is 4×4 doubletrack and dirt roads (with a short bit of pavement at the end) and tends to be soft and sandy in spots. Although it can be frustrating at times on a mountain bike, it is very enjoyable on a fat bike. It’s hard for me to imagine mountain bike pioneers doing rides like this in the early 90’s. But it’s definitely motivating, imagining them slogging through some of the beachy bits as my fattie floats over everything 🙂
From Highway 120, you climb steadily towards Sagehen Peak, and roll through a beautiful aspen grove (stunning when the fall colors are turning). There are marvelous views of Adobe Valley and the Glass Mountain Ridge and you can see all the way to the White Mountains as you start curving eastbound. When you turn north and descend into the valley, the views are again outstanding as you make your way across North Canyon Creek towards the last pavement climb back to your car. If you are seeking some stellar, buff singletrack, you will not get that on this ride. However, if you are in search of solitude and some of the amazing views that define Eastern Sierra adventure riding, this ride will please you and then some.
- Ride Type: Loop
- Difficulty: Non-technical, moderately strenuous climbing
- Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in late Winter/depending on snow pack)
- Terrain/Conditions: 4×4 roads and dirt roads (soft/sandy in sections) with the last 2.6 miles on pavement.
- Access: From Lee Vining, head 5 miles south on Highway 395 to the Junction with Hwy 120 towards Benton. Drive past the Mono Mills historic site and continue all the way to the top of Sagehen Summit (there is a sign). Park off on the dirt at the junction with froad 1N02. The ride starts here.
- Length: 17.2 miles
- Approx. Time: 2 – 3 hours
- Lowest Elevation: 7,283′
- Highest Elevation: 9,031′
- Total Elevation Gain: 1,896′
- Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or Plus Bike (29er or 27.5 with 3″ tires). You can do it on a traditional mountain bike as well, but it’s not as enjoyable through the sandy sections, and you might be hiking your bike at times.
- GPX file: Available by contacting us
Turn by Turn (in miles):
0.0 – Start heading south on the wide dirt road 1N02 towards Sagehen Meadows. You’ll have a gradual climb with some steeper bits mixed in.
4.0 – Reach the high point of the ride. Yahoo. Get some rest on the peaceful descent towards Wild Horse Meadow.
4.5 – Stay on 1N02 towards Johnny Meadows. You’ll stay on 1N02, continuing past the junction with Johnny Meadows Rd
7.9 – Left on 1N02T
8.1 – After a short descent, go left at the T. You are now on 29E104 (called 29E03 on older maps).
10.0 – Continue straight, the road turns into 1S15A
11.8 – Creek crossing
13.3 – Continue straight
13.9 – Another creek crossing, then continue straight passed the old corral
14.6 – Go left on Hwy 120, and enjoy the final pavement climb back to Sagenhen Summit.
17.2 – Ride ends. Drink beer.
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):