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Posts tagged “snow bike

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.

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Ride Report: Mammoth Creek / Sherwin Creek Loop

This is probably the best snow biking loop in town if you’re going to choose one ride to do on a fat bike in Winter.  It’s also a mellow Fall/Summer ride on a mountain bike.  It starts with a moderate descent and some flats to warm your legs up on Mammoth Creek Rd .  Then you’ve got a nice, gradual climb back up Sherwin Creek Rd.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty:  Moderate with gradual climbing
  • Time of Year: All year
  • Terrain/Conditions: Summer/Fall – dirt roads, singletrack, bike path.  Winter/Spring – 95% snow, firm OSV & snowshoe packed
  • Access: From town, take Old Mammoth Rd. to Sherwin Creek Rd. (across from Mammoth Creek Park).  Go down Sherwin Creek Rd for 1/2 mile, turn right near the big propane tanks and park here.
  • Length: 10.2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5- 2 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,216′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,872′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 703′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike in Summer/ Fall or Fat Bike in Winter/Spring
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Once you’ve parked, start pedaling back up Sherwin Creek Rd. to Old Mammoth Rd.  Make a right turn, and in 50′ turn right on the Mammoth Creek trail.  Stay on the trail for about 1/2 mile before reaching an intersection.  At the intersection stay right onto Mammoth Creek Rd.  If you go straight, you’ll stay on the town bike path – so make sure to stay right.  Once on Mammoth Creek Rd, it’s a no-brainer.  Continue down the road, while spying the White Mountains straight ahead, and the Sherwins, Laurel Lakes area and Bloody Mountain to the right.  If riding on snow, try to do this ride in the morning while the snow is firm.  It’s pretty exposed and gets sun affected easily.  Once down at the bottom, you get very close to the 395 highway.  Make sure to turn right and continue to the intersection with Sherwin Creek Rd.  Enjoy a mellow climb with more outstanding views.  You’ll pass by the turn-off to the Laurel Lakes Ride on the left.  If you have a death wish, you might want to add this lung-busting ride to your current loop.  If not, continue up past the YMCA camp, into a shaded, tree-lined section.  Once you pop out from the trees, you’ll get views of Mammoth Mountain, Lincoln Mountain, and Mammoth Rock.  Shortly after passing the trailhead for Mammoth Rock Trail on your left, you’ll approach your car, and think to yourself, “FAT BIKES ROCK”.  If you’ve still got gas in your proverbial tank, try adding on The Meadows Ride.  You might also consider doing the Meadows Ride first as a warmup.

sherwin_mammoth_creek_map sherwin_mammoth_creek_profile

Taking a break on Sherwin Creek Rd.

Taking a break on Sherwin Creek Rd.


Ride Report: Snow Biking Old Mammoth Rd.

Looking for a quick cardio workout that’s easy to access?  Here ya go.  A one mile sustained climb, takes you up to Lake Mary Rd., where unfortunately you have to turn back.  Lake Mary Rd is groomed, so off limits to fat bikes.  Hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to link this ride with much more terrain.  However, for now, catch your breath, admire the views, and enjoy the fun descent back to your car.

  • Ride Type:  Out and Back
  • Difficulty:  Moderate (one strenuous climb)
  • Terrain/Conditions: 100% snow, firm OSV packed, softening up from the sun
  • Time since last snowfall: More than one week
  • Month & Ride Start Time:  February, 1:15pm
  • Temperature: 50 degrees
  • Access: From town, take Old Mammoth Rd. until the road closure and snow is not cleared anymore (near the intersectoin of La Verne St.)  Park off to the side.
  • Length: 1.9 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1/2 hour – 45 minutes
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,845′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,360′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 385′
  • Bike Recommendation:  Fat Bike

There really is no “warmup” on this ride.  You start pedaling off the get go.  About a 1/4 mile in, you turn left and the pitch increases as you reach the “Mammoth Rock Trail” trailhead (one of the best dirt singletrack mtb trails in the summer).  Depending on how much snowshoe traffic it’s seen, you might be able to ride out on it a little bit, and catch some amazing views of town, Snowcreek, The White Mountains, The Sherwins, and Mammoth Rock.  Once you get back on Old Mammoth Rd, keep climbing!!  There’s a big switchback (you’ll see the sign for the Panorama Dome Trail– another great summer mtb ride- both this and Mammoth Rock Trail are a part of the Mammoth Lakes Big Friggin Loop) before it straightens out again, and the pitch mellows for the final climb to Lake Mary Rd.

*Note:  Sometimes the snowmobiles carve a direct, steeper path cutting off the big switchback as well as another trail staying on the road.  Usually it’s best to stay on the road climbing up, but come down the direct route, cutting off the switchback on the descent.  It’s a little more fun.

This route is frequented by snowmobiles (thanks for packing it down), snowshoers, hikers, and nordic skiers.  So, please be on your best behavior, and yield to everybody.  You can link this ride with The Meadows Ride to get some more mileage.  You’ll just have to ride all the way up Old Mammoth Rd. on pavement, which is kind of a bummer.

old_mammoth_rd_map old_mammoth_rd_profile

Parked at the big switchback, with Mammoth Rock in the background.

Parked at the big switchback, with Mammoth Rock in the background.


Ride Report: Snow Biking The Meadows Behind Snowcreek

This is a great introductory ride for novice fat bikers.  It’s also very easy to access, since it’s right in town.  It’s short and relatively flat, and is a great chance to get used to the bike, as well as getting other user groups used to our presence.  You get some beautiful views of Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Rock, and The Sherwins.  Lots of people walk their dogs and hike around here, so please be friendly and yield to other user groups at all times.  There are usually a few snowmobile tracks to ride in, so pick one and have fun!

  • Ride Type:  Out and Back
  • Difficulty:  Easy
  • Terrain/Conditions: 100% snow, firm OSV packed, softening up from the sun
  • Time since last snowfall: More than one week
  • Month & Ride Start Time:  February, 2:00pm
  • Temperature: 52 degrees
  • Access: From town, take Old Mammoth Rd. to Sherwin Creek Rd. (across from Mammoth Creek Park).  Go down Sherwin Creek Rd for 1/2 mile, turn right near the big propane tanks and park here.
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1/2 hour
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,514′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,651′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 165
  • Bike Recommendation:  Fat Bike

This is a big multi-use open space.  There is no real “trail head” in the winter – just snowmobile tracks.  Once you leave your car, look towards Mammoth Mountain to get your bearings.  Following with your eyes to the left, you’ll see the prominent Mammoth Rock poking out of the Sherwin Range.  You’re going to ride in the general direction of Mammoth Rock (southwest), using whatever snowmobile track you can get behind.  Close to a mile into your ride, you’ll climb a short hill and wind up at a wooden gate.  You’ll see a bunch of homes ahead and also where the Snowcreek Golf Course is viewable in warmer months.  This is your turn around point (don’t enter Snowcreek Private Property).  Go back the way you came with views of the White Mountains, and a smile on your face.  By this point, you’ll probably be dreaming of some longer fat bike adventures!  If you’re in good shape and yearning for more, think about linking this up with either the Mammoth Creek/Sherwin Creek Loop, or the Old Mammoth Rd. Ride.  Yahoo!

meadows_snowcreek_elevation meadows_snowcreek_map

Views of Mammoth Mountain and Lincoln Mountain from the viewpoint at the top of the short climb.

Views of Mammoth Mountain and Lincoln Mountain from the viewpoint at the turn around point.


Winter Snow Biking Not Allowed on Groomed Trails in Mammoth

Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

As many of my friends know, I bought a Salsa Mukluk in November and have ridden around 300 miles so far… basically all over Mammoth with it.  I guess ignorance is bliss.  I assumed “multi-use” trails had similar rules in the Winter as they do in the Summer.  Especially since I’ve been reading and watching videos of how other states are embracing these bikes and Nordic Ski Resorts have been allowing them to share groomed trails as well (which means their local land managers – i.e. USFS, BLM, etc are allowing biking to be included with their special use permit).  In fact, I watched this video a couple months ago, where a US Forest Service Representative talks about how their trails in the Teton Range are multi-use with bicycles now legal, and everybody is in harmony. 

But not yet here in Mammoth.  Unfortunately, “no wheeled vehicles” are allowed on…

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