While it’s no secret that mountain biking is widely popular in Mono County, especially with all the world-class trails that wind through Mammoth Lakes, road biking is also a great activity to do. With incredible scenic vistas in every direction, you don’t have to be on a dirt trail to enjoy Mono County’s natural beauty. Here are a few of the best road bike rides you can do in the area:
Lakes Basin Bike Path
With its beautiful scenery stretching from Lake Mary to Horseshoe Lake, the Lakes Basin Path is well worth the ride. Stretching from the Lakes Basin to just below The Village, it’s a great, accessible way to explore the gorgeous lakes Mammoth is famous for. With an elevation of 1000 feet it will provide a cardio challenge – but if you want to step it up a notch, you can add some out-and-back climbs to Lake George and the Coldwater Trailhead. Be careful during the descent and remember to soak in the views.
Total Distance: 14.0 miles
Mammoth Scenic Loop
The name itself promises a scenic ride, and it delivers. Arguably the most popular out-and-back road bike route in Mammoth, many use it as a way to get to Highway 395 for longer rides, but it’s also a fun, beginner-friendly ride in and of itself. A favorite starting spot is just outside The Village on Minaret Road. From there, climb along Minaret Road until you reach Mammoth Scenic Loop on your right. Take the right and you’ll continue to ascend for a bit, along the winding tree-lined road. With just enough climb to get your heart pumping, the road will shortly thereafter flatten out and you’ll begin your descent to Highway 395. Once you hit the highway, you can turn around and take the same road back to finish at The Village, completing the loop. Or, if you’re up for an additional challenge, a longer route and some steeper climbs, you can turn right onto Highway 395 and ride back to Mammoth Lakes via Route 203 / Main St.
Total Distance: 18.0 miles
Red’s Meadow Ride
For fit, experienced, thrill-seeking cyclists, the journey to Red’s Meadow is the perfect ride. Offering a steep and winding road ideal for downhill riders, the ride starts at The Village, takes Minaret Road past the Main Lodge, and continues on to Minaret Vista, the highest point of the ride. From there, you descend to Red’s Meadow with views of the Minarets and Ritter Range gracing your ride. Just exercise caution as the road can be pretty steep. Once you reach Red’s Meadow, take a sharp left and continue the descent – passing through the forest, past Starkweather Lake and Sotcher Lake before the road ends at Red’s Meadow Resort. Take a breather, enjoy the view, then turn around and take the same route back to complete the ride.
Total Distance: 29.8 miles
June Lake Loop
Considered one of the most scenic routes in Mono County, the June Lake Loop offers moderate gains in elevation, which is good for the less-experienced road cyclist. Though there are still lots of hills, the loop is gradual, rolling, and enjoyable. From June Lake Beach, you’ll turn right on North Shore Drive and then left onto the June Lake Loop, heading back toward Highway 395. When you reach the junction for 395, turn left and continue the ride for 7 miles until you reach Highway 158 at the north end of the loop before Lee Vining. You’ll turn left onto Highway 158 and ride for 12 miles, enjoying the passing views of Grant Lake’s sandy shore, steep granite buttresses, Silver Lake and its aspen groves. When you reach North Shore Drive, turn left and power through a short, steep climb to be rewarded by breathtaking (literally) views of Gull Lake before enjoying the last descent back to the northside of June Lake Beach.
Total Distance: 22.0 miles
Notorious for its steep climbs, Wild Rose Summit is a challenging ride that’s calling your name if you’re an experienced cyclist. It starts from the iconic Green Church on the corner of Highway 395 and Benton Crossing Road – locally known as Green Church Road – and continues along the rolling hills with unobstructed views of the Eastern Sierra, Glass Mountains, and White Mountains before the real climb to Wild Rose begins. Starting gradually, you cross the Owens River at the 5-mile mark, and pass the Layton Springs turn-off at Crowley Lake at the 10-mile mark. The road begins to climb steeply until you reach the Waterson Divide, then tapers off into a long, but more gradual ascent to Wildrose Summit. If you reach the summit and return back to the Green Church, you’ll accomplish a beautiful round-trip ride of 48 miles. This is not for the faint of heart, so be sure to pack enough water and provisions – cell service is limited / non-existent!
Total Distance: 48.0 miles
Rock Creek to Mosquito Flat
Rock Creek Road, otherwise known as the highest paved road in California, offers one of the most challenging climbs for road cyclists up to Rock Creek Canyon Hill. You start the ride at Tom’s Place – approximately 13 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, 30 miles north of Bishop – and continue on the winding narrow canyon for more than 10 miles going to Mosquito Flat. The elevation is more than 10,000 feet so it can be brutal at parts, but you’ll get to enjoy the stunning views of both the canyon and Rock Creek Lake. And if they’re open, don’t forget to drop by Rock Creek Resort for a slice of their famous pie – you earned it!
Total Distance: 21.2 miles
Mammoth Fall Century and Gran Fondo
Check an item off the bucket list and go on the ultimate Eastern Sierra road bike ride: the annual Mammoth Fall Century and Gran Fondo. Held in early September and rated a “top-ten century” bike ride by Bicycling Magazine for its “jaw-dropping vistas,” it’s an organized ride and race that covers a total distance of more than 100 miles, with long climbs, fast, enjoyable descents, and world-class views of the Sierra Nevada Range, Mono Lake, and the White Mountains. If you’re not keen to do the whole 102-mile course, they also have 70 and 42-mile route options.
Total Distance: 102.0 miles
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