3 Perfect Days of Adventure in Mammoth Lakes

Jul 14, 2021

Plan a climb-hike-bike vacation.

We all know that Mammoth is an adventure playground in California’s backyard. The problem is not finding something to do, but deciding what to do. In three days you can pack in a lot of adventure. Here’s a guide to your 3 days of adventure in Mammoth Lakes.

Day 1: Climb, Eat, Climb, Sleep.

Clark’s Canyon is a favorite local spot for sport climbing because of its proximity to Mammoth, and variety of routes. There truly is something for everyone. Before you head out to the crags stop by Stellar Brew and Natural Cafe and pick up a coffee and breakfast burrito, and order a sandwich to go. You’ll want to bring plenty of food, water, and snacks so you can enjoy a full day at Clark’s.

If you need any climbing gear, supplies, or a guidebook, swing by Mammoth Mountaineering Supply before you hit the road. Mountain Project is also a great resource for climbing in the area and gives detailed directions to Clark’s Canyon as well as other Mammoth Lakes area climbs. (You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to drive to the parking lot.)

From Area 13, which offers a lot of moderate and easy routes, to the short bouldering-like routes at the Potato Patch, there are a number of crags with varying degrees of difficulty at Clark’s Canyon. If you plan to spend the day at Clark’s explore the different crags to get the full variety of climbing.

If you want to check out another spot, head back into Mammoth for an afternoon session at the Horseshoe Slabs. The granite slabs located on the southwest corner of Horseshoe Lake, are great for beginner top roping, or learning to lead trad. The slabs offer mostly moderates, and a few more difficult routes, only a few are bolted.

Once you’ve had enough climbing for the day swing by Mammoth Brewing Company for a tasting of the locally crafted beers.

Day 2: Hike, Eat, Hike, Sleep.

The best way to experience the wilderness that surrounds Mammoth Lakes, is to get out on your own two feet and hike. Fuel up on locally roasted coffee at Black Velvet before you hit the trail. A pour over coffee or green tea latte should give you the extra boost you’ll want for a full day of hiking. If donuts and pastries are your thing, swing by Schat’s Bakery and pick up a maple bar for a pre-hike sugar rush.

There are a lot of options for hiking in Mammoth, but if you are only going to get one good hike in, head up to the Mammoth Lakes Basin and hit the Duck Pass Trail at Coldwater Campground. The eleven-mile round-trip hike to Duck Pass is a Mammoth area must-do. The trail passes Arrowhead, Skeleton, and Barney lakes, on the way to a stunning view of Duck Lake from the 10,797-foot pass.

Hopefully you planned ahead an ordered a lunch box from Bleu Handcrafted Foods because there is no better perch to have a gourmet lunch than a large granite boulder overlooking Duck Lake. Read more about this hike here.

Before you head home to get rest for tomorrow’s adventure, swing by the Mammoth Tavern for the best views and cocktails in town.

Day 3: Bike, Eat, Bike, Sleep.

After two days of adventuring around mammoth you are probably getting a little tired, so day three is a great time to hit up the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park and ride a little downhill—your tired body might appreciate a lift to the top of the trails.

First, fuel up for the day on locally roasted small batch coffee and a search and rescue bar at the Looney Bean. It’s located in the Rite Aide shopping center near Footloose Sports, so if you need any bike supplies, this is a great one-stop pre-ride spot.

Mammoth Mountain Bike Park offers more than 80 miles of single track for an entire day of riding. From the speed defying Kamikaze downhill to cross country trails, and beginner zones, there are plenty of options for riders of all abilities. Take the bike park shuttle to Main Lodge and start your day at the Adventure Center. From there you’ll be able to access the Upper Panorama Gondola and the network of downhill trails from McCoy Station and the top of the mountain.

Of course, if cross country riding is your thing, there are a number of routes on Mammoth to keep you pedaling all day. After a full day on the trails, finish up at the Village and celebrate a great weekend of adventure at Clocktower Cellar. There you will find 26 draft beers on tap and more than 150 whiskies from around the world.

Monica Prelle

Monica Prelle is an outdoors, wine, and travel writer who would rather be running, climbing, or mountain biking. See more of Monica's posts here, read more of her work at monicaprelle.com and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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