Beginner’s Guide to Biking Mammoth Lakes

Ever since Mammoth Mountain hosted the Kamikaze Downhill in the 1980s, Mammoth Lakes, and the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park have been considered a world-class destination for mountain biking. From mountain biking on trails to cruising on the town paths, Mammoth Lakes has something to offer for bicyclists of all abilities. Whether you are a novice looking to ride in Mammoth Lakes for the first time or a beginner wondering how to get started, we have you covered. This is your beginner’s guide to biking Mammoth Lakes.

Where to Rent a Bike

If you are looking to rent a bike while vacationing in Mammoth Lakes, there are a few options. Mammoth Mountain offers mountain bike rentals at the Mountain Center in The Village and at the Adventure Center at Main Lodge. There are also a few bike shops in town that have mountain and road bike rentals including Footloose Sports and Mammoth Outdoor Sports. You can also rent an electric bicycle at Wave Rave or Sierra Engine. Don’t forget, Mammoth Lakes has a lot of sand and pumice, which makes some of the bike trails looser dirt than what you might be used to. Wider tires work better up here, as well as lower tire pressure. Whether you’re renting a bike or have your own, check in at local shops for expert tips.

What to Wear

Properly outfitting yourself for a day of bicycle riding is the best way to be not only safe, but also comfortable. A helmet is essential for safety, but you’ll also want to wear a pair of cycling gloves to protect your hands. Padded bike shorts will make sitting on a bicycle seat much more comfortable, and a lightweight, breathable t-shirt will keep your shoulders from getting too much sun and still moderate your body temperature.

Where to Ride

Novice cyclists will love the Town Loop bicycle path. It starts at a number of locations around town. Mammoth Creek Park and Shady Rest Park are two main hubs. Check the Mammoth Lakes Trail System website for information and maps. The most popular option for riding is the Lakes Basin Path that descends from Horseshoe Lake to The Village at Mammoth. If you are not up for the difficult uphill ride, you can take the free town trolley to the Lakes Basin with your bike. The bus stop is located adjacent to The Village on Canyon Boulevard and will let you off at the top of the path. It’s a scenic downhill ride back to The Village.

How to Handle the Altitude

Mammoth Lakes sits at 8,000 feet in elevation, so it’s essential to prepare yourself for the altitude. Hydration and nutrition are key to having a successful day of activities. Make sure to drink plenty of water, but also add electrolytes to your drinks. You may not feel as hungry when you arrive in Mammoth Lakes, but fueling up is important to maintain energy levels. Be sure to hydrate well and carry snacks. Protecting yourself from the sun; sunscreen, protective clothing, and sunglasses is also very important at high altitude.

The Mammoth Mountain Bike Park

With more than 80-miles of singletrack and lift-accessed trails, the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has trails for all abilities. The beginner’s area was rated #1 by Outside Magazine and Mammoth Mountain practically founded downhill racing in the 1980s with the Kamikazi Bike Games. If it’s your first time riding on trails, consider taking a lesson. Purchase a bike park lift ticket at the Mountain Center in The Village and ride the shuttle to Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge. Or get your tickets at the Mammoth Adventure Center. The gondola will take you up to the top mountain, so you can hit the trails. Get tips on how to conquer the mountain in our ultimate guide to the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park.

Other Trails in Mammoth Lakes

The majority of singletrack mountain bike trails are located on Mammoth Mountain, which requires a lift ticket, however, there are a few other trails in the area that are free and just as fun. Beginners will love the flat and easy 2-mile Horseshoe Lake Loop, a dirt trail that follows along the lakeshore. More experienced riders should try Mammoth Rock Trail or Mountain View Trail.

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 and connect on twitter @monicaprelle

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