Mono County, on California’s breathtaking Eastern Sierra, is known for its amazing scenery, hiking, skiing, climbing and adventure, but less well known are its diverse mountain bike experiences (with the exception of Mammoth Mountain) and outstanding breweries, a match made in high Sierra heaven.
Where to Ride:
For mountain bikers, Mammoth Mountain and the legendary Kamikaze Run need no introduction, and for good reason. Mammoth Mountain’s mountain bike park is world-class and draws riders from far and wide. The Kamikaze Games in September cap off the season with spectacles for both competitors and onlookers.
Beyond the bike park, Mammoth Lakes offers trails for all skill levels. Build a loop out of trails like Uptown, Big Green, Paper Route, Timber Ridge, Lakes Trail, Panorama Dome, Mammoth Rock, Enchanted Forest, a connection via Tamarack Street, Sherwin and back to town.
Shady Rest Park holds mountain bike races each Tuesday, organized by Mammoth Outdoor Sports, for those looking for a little competition.
Lower Rock Creek Trail:
A short drive south on Highway 395 from Mammoth Lakes, this classic mountain biking test piece offers up as much or as little challenge as any rider could want. Descending 16 miles from the trailhead to the town of Paradise and intersected by Lower Rock Creek Road twice, the trail lends itself to both shuttling and out and back rides.
For a more mellow day, park at the trailhead at the top of Lower Rock Creek road and head down the trail to either the first or second road crossing, riding through beautiful aspen along a creek, then turn back.
For the more ambitious thrill-seekers, keep going after the second road crossing into a technical and challenging canyon filled with tricky rock formations, ending either at a car for a shuttle, or turning back for a long pedal back up the hill.
Less well known for mountain biking than Mammoth, June Lakes still offers up some fun pedaling. An advanced ride takes mountain bikers up the triathlon running route, turning right at the summit. The trail then descends down the east side of Silver Lake, weaving along trails back to June Mountain Ski Area. Getting local info is recommended, and the owners of June Lakes Brewing Company are a good place to start (and finish, see below).
Moraines and Meadows Loop above Lee Vining offers an up-close view of diverse geology, taking you from high desert to alpine meadows, through glacial moraines and beneath Yosemite’s eastern boundary. Not particularly technical, but covering about 12 miles and almost 1,500 feet of climbing at elevation, riders will want to be prepared with plenty of food and water.
Bike Shops and Beta:
Footloose Sports in Mammoth Lakes can give you the knowledge and set you up with the gear for any mountain bike adventure. Other shops to suit any rider’s needs can be found here.
Where to Imbibe:
Mammoth Brewing Company not only offers an entire array of incredible microbrews, but it’s also located in the perfect place to end many of the rides in town. Try the IPA 395 with Eastern Sierra Sage and Juniper for a unique taste of the region.
June Lake Brewing in June Lakes pours some great beers right in the same warehouse it's being brewed in, and can often be accompanied by tasty food from Ohanas 395 food truck parked right outside. The brewery’s owners are mountain bikers and a great source of local knowledge.
Visitors coming from the south up 395 should stop at Mountain Rambler in Bishop, a fun new brewery with tasty beer and food.
Other great options for a drink include Mammoth Rock n Bowl (sit outside for great views of the Sherwin Range), Mammoth Tavern also with great views, Tiger Bar Cafe in June Lakes (California’s second oldest liquor license!) and the Mono Inn in Lee Vining overlooking Mono Lake.
About Mono County:
Located approximately 310 miles west of Las Vegas, 315 miles north of Los Angeles, and 280 miles east of San Francisco, Mono County accesses the east entrance to Yosemite National Park and beckons visitors in all seasons. The region was listed among the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet and its major thoroughfare, US Highway 395, has been named among the country’s best five road trips by USA Weekend. From abundant trout fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching in summer, stunning fall foliage in autumn, to wintertime pursuits of skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing – and simply partaking in a good old-fashioned fun in the snow – Mono County is a year-round recreation paradise. For more information or to request guides, visit www.MonoCounty.org or call 800-845-7922.