5 Off-the-Beaten-Path Spots for Winter Adventures

Jul 13, 2021

The snow-capped mountains and scent of pine in the cold crisp air can be just as invigorating as bombing down the mountain on skis or a snowboard. There’s just something about exploring the forest in winter, whether you’re on cross country skis, snowshoes or a snowmobile or just spending time sledding or building a snowman, that feels peaceful and energizing at the same time.

Of course, the Mammoth Lakes Basin is a popular spot for winter adventures, but if you’re looking for a winter adventure with a whole lot of solitude these off-the-beaten-path spots for winter adventures in Mammoth Lakes might be perfect for your next snowy romp among the trees.

Winter Adventure Spots in Mammoth Lakes

Shady Rest Park

One of the most popular parks for outdoor recreation in the summer, Shady Rest Park is a quiet adventure portal in winter as well. The free public-access cross country ski trails are groomed when there are at least 18 inches of snow on the ground.

Catch the Nordic and cross country ski trails at Shady Rest from the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center, where you’ll find free visitor parking. During early- and late-season, the road to Shady Rest may also be accessible to cars.

Beginner and advanced cross-country skiers can explore a variety of relatively flat trails in the Shady Rest Park area. These winter trails are shared with snowshoers, dog walkers and snow runners. Snowmobilers also use the park as a launching point to access snowmobiling trails that link to areas like Minaret Vista, Deadman Creek and Bald Mountain.

Visit the Mammoth Lakes Trail System website for more information about winter trail use out of Shady Rest Park.  

Mammoth Creek Park

Head east from Mammoth Creek Park and you’ll likely find some solitude right out our front door. Mammoth Creek Park is located on Old Mammoth Road adjacent to town and offers scenic vistas and trails along the creek corridor.

Sections of the Town Loop are plowed in the winter, so the path is usually ideal for getting around town on foot. But, if you’re lucky, you’ll find fresh snow ripe for snowshoeing. Mountain landscapes, from the White Mountains to the east, the Sherwin Ridge to the south and Mammoth Mountain to the west, provide a gorgeous backdrop for your adventure.

Minaret Vista

You’ll need snowshoes, cross country skis or a snowmobile to reach Minaret Vista in the winter. The 8,900-foot overlook offers an unparalleled view of the Minarets and the Ritter Range. Though Minaret Vista is a well-traveled destination in the summer, you’ll likely have this spot to yourself in the winter. You’ll find that the peaks look entirely different under snow and the trek to get there makes the view even more rewarding.

Skiers and snowshoers will head out from Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge and climb the summer road 2.5 miles to reach the vista. Snowmobilers can launch from Minaret Vista and ride a number of trails en route.

Visit the Mammoth Lakes Trail System website for more information about winter trail use out of Minaret Vista.  

Borrow Pit

The paved Borrow Pit parking area is one of the best winter staging areas in Mammoth Lakes. Located in our backyard at the winter road closure on Sherwin Creek Road, the Borrow Pit opens doors to on-snow adventures.

The area is ideal for launching snowmobiles to head into the backcountry, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or even playtime for your pup in the meadow. If that’s not enough adventure for one location, build a snowman, have a snowball fight and find a hill to sled. 

Winter Adventure Spots Just Outside of Mammoth Lakes

Smoky Bear Flat

Named for the giant Smoky Bear sign on US 395 north of Mammoth, Smokey Bear Flat is a large flat meadow that is a popular staging area for OHVing in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter. Hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails can be accessed from this adventure portal. The destinations you can access from this point are almost endless. Snowplay is also a popular activity here.

Visit the Mammoth Lakes Trail System website for more information about winter trail use out of Smokey Bear Flat. 

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

More Blog Posts By Monica Prelle

More Posts

Like this