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.