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

Posts tagged “mountain bikes

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: Saddlebag Lake Trail near Yosemite, CA

This oft forgotten singletrack trail is not ridden enough.  Most people are unaware that it even exists, much less that it’s open to mountain biking.  It is tucked cleverly between Yosemite National Park and the Hoover Wilderness, butting right next to the Wilderness Boundary in a couple of spots.  It’s only a 45 minute drive from Mammoth. Although the ride is short (only 4 miles), it’s definitely not short on exquisite views!! There’s minimal climbing, but there are some technical sections that will surprise you, and some punchy efforts that will get your heart rate up.  Much of the trail is fairly smooth, but there’s also a fair share of rocks and shale that sneak up on you.  Be ready for it.  We describe this ride as a loop.  Most people do it as a loop.  However, the last section of trail (approx. 1.5 miles) is almost all rock and shale, and not much fun for less skilled riders.  If you’re doing the full loop, full suspension or a fat bike will help.  Most people will have to hike some of the obnoxious sections.  In our opinion, the best part of this ride is the first half.  The best terrain, trail quality, and views are had while riding the the east and north side of the lake, right up until you reach the Forest Service cabin.  Therefore, we’ve written directions for the full loop, but also notated the out and back to the cabin.  Your choice, just wanted to give fair warning.

Also in the area are the Bennettville Ride, Log Cabin Mine Loop, and Moraines and Meadows Ride.  You might want do one or more of those rides to make a great day of riding.  Saddlebag Lake is also a great spot to fish, or just hang out with the family and make a day out of it.

  • Ride Type:  Loop (counter-clockwise is the way we recommend), or out and back to the cabin
  • Difficulty: Moderately technical (some rocks and shale), but pretty easy on the lungs
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Almost all singletrack, some smooth, some shale/rock gardens – with gorgeous high alpine scenery and lake views everywhere
  • 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.  You’ll pass the Mobil Mart on your left.  You might want to stop here later for some great grub and live music depending on time of year you are riding.  Anyhoo, continue driving for 10 miles and turn right at the Saddlebag Lake Sign.  Then drive for another 2.5 miles on a mostly dirt road.  Go to the parking lot at the end of the road and spot the restrooms to the right.  The trail sign is just past the restrooms.
  • Length: 4.1 miles
  • Approx. Time: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours for the loop (shorter for the out and back)
  • Lowest Elevation: 10,055′
  • Highest Elevation: 10,192′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 361′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike, but full suspension or fat bike is recommended for the western portion of the loop.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us
  • Other Reference: Hunter’s Saddlebag Lake Trail Blog

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start at the trail sign, heading around the lake to the right (counter-clockwise).  Right off the bat, there are a few sections of rock and shale that will warm you up quickly.
.50 – The trail opens up to smooth flowing singletrack with some great lake views
.75  – Cross a small creek
.85 – Rocky climb.  Once you crest the climb, views of the rest of the lake become apparent.  The trail now strays from the shoreline a bit and meanders through pine trees and stays a little cooler.
2.07 – Arrive at the old cabin on the left

** If you choose to do this ride as an out and back, this is the turn around point.  Simply retrace your steps and go back the way you came. If you’re continuing to complete the loop, keep following the cues below:

2.1 – You reach a Wilderness trail sign to the right.  Do not take this.  Continue straight across the creek bed.
2.25 – You reach another Wilderness trail sign letting you know that you’re about to enter Wilderness.  Do not take it.  Instead a few yards before the sign, there is a singletrack trail to your left.  Take this to continue the loop you are on.
2.35 – There is a small bridge with a couple of logs to your left.  It’s hard to see as it’s surrounded by brush.  Use this bridge to cross the creek.  Don’t miss this turn!! Just after the creek crossing, there are a couple of techy rock gardens and one short climb to navigate.
2.52 – Go left at the junction with another trail.   You’ll now enter the most hateful portion of the ride.  Rocks and shale make for annoying riding all the ay home.
3.69 – Reach the bridge.  Cross the bridge and take the singletrack to your left which will bring you back to the parking lot.
4.1 – Arrive at trail sign and finish ride.

Saddlebag Lake Trail - Map

Saddlebag Lake Trail – Map

Saddlebag Lake Trail - Elevation Profile

Saddlebag Lake Trail – Elevation Profile

Trail sign, and start of the ride

Trail sign, and start of the ride

A sweet section of singletrack going along the east side of the lake

A sweet section of singletrack going along the east side of the lake

View looking back to the south side of the lake

View looking back to the south side of the lake

The old cabin that marks the half way point of the ride

The old cabin that marks the half way point of the ride

The first trail sign you come across marking the route to Lundy Lake.  Do not take this!  No bikes allowed.

The first trail sign you come across marking the route to Lundy Lake. Do not take this! No bikes allowed.

Lots of hikers and equestrians during peak season.  Remember to always yield to other user groups

Lots of hikers and equestrians during peak season. Remember to always yield to other user groups

More great views, more great trail.

More great views, more great trail.

Parked on the bridge

Parked on the bridge.  I forgot to cut my number plate off after the VC race earlier in the week.  Oops.