Beginner’s Guide to Road Biking in Mammoth Lakes

Jul 14, 2021

Long mountainous roads, wide shoulders, good pavement, and plenty of scenery—that’s what road cycling in Mammoth Lakes is all about. With little traffic and miles of pavement, the Eastern Sierra is truly a road cycling paradise. Just ask any one of the professional cyclists that train here. But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy pedaling on the roads.


Here is your beginner’s guide to road cycling in Mammoth Lakes.

Rent in Mammoth Lakes

If you have a road bike and a way to bring it with you then you are all set to ride, but if you’d rather travel light, you can take the opportunity to rent a road bike from Footloose Sports or Mammoth Outdoor Sports. Warning: you might want to make a big purchase after riding one of their rentals. Rates are priced from $20-80 for hourly, half- and full-day rentals.

What to Wear Road Cycling

You’ll need a few essentials before you hit the pavement. Always wear a helmet, gloves, and sunglasses when you go road biking. You’ll also want to wear a fitted top and bottoms, preferably padded bike shorts for comfort. Consider a lightweight wind/rain jacket incase you get caught in bad weather. If you are using platform pedals, any type of athletic footwear will do, but specific road bike shoes with clip-in pedals are most efficient. (Ask the bike shop about shoes if you are renting.)

Tips for Road Cycling at Altitude

Since you’ll be road cycling at elevations between 7,000 and 10,000 feet, you’ll need to be prepared for the high altitude. Hydration is very important when exercising at these elevations. Most cyclists will carry at least two bottles with them, with one being an electrolyte drink. You can often fill up water bottles along your ride at campgrounds or summer resorts. You may not feel as hungry at altitude, but fueling up is important to maintain energy levels. Eat well one-hour prior to your ride and carry snacks like beef jerky, nuts, energy bars, or gels. Protecting yourself from the sun is also important. Wear sunscreen and lip balm and reapply every few hours.

Best Cycling Routes for Beginners

Just about every road will take you somewhere beautiful in the Eastern Sierra and there are so many open roads that you can ride as long or short as you like. The terrain in Mammoth Lakes is mountainous, so stop and enjoy the view as often as necessary. These are a few of our favorite road cycling routes for beginners.

Lakes Basin Path

The Lakes Basin Path climbs from the Village to Horseshoe Lake on a paved path for a 10-15 mile ride. The route climbs 1,000 feet in elevation and offers unparalleled views of Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Crest, and Long Valley. To make it a longer ride, add loop around Lake Mary before descending the same way you pedaled up.

Mammoth Lakes Scenic Loop

The Scenic Loop is a favorite Mammoth area road cycling route. It is often used as a way to get to-and-from Highway 395 for longer rides, but it’s also a beginner-friendly route all by itself. Take Minaret Road up past the Village and turn right on the Mammoth Scenic Loop. The road climbs for a short distance before it begins the descent through a dense Jeffery pine forest to the highway. Return the same route for an 18-mile round-trip ride.

Benton Crossing Road – Green Church to Layton Springs

The famed green church on the corner of Benton Crossing Road and Highway 395 is a popular starting point for road cyclists. The rolling road is the flattest terrain in the area and offers unobstructed views of the Eastern Sierra, Glass Mountains, and White Mountains. You’ll cross the Owens River in 5 miles and arrive Layton Springs (before the road climbs up to the Wild Rose Summit) at the back of Crowley Lake in 10 miles. Turn around at any point to adjust the ride to your desired distance.

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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