3 Fall Color Mountain Bike Rides in the Eastern Sierra

Aug 26, 2022

Autumn mountain biking in Mammoth Lakes is all about colorful foliage, solitude on the trail and unbeatable weather. As the trees begin to transition from summer green to fall colors, the crowds dissipate and many of the popular trails throughout this mountain playground become wide-open for adventures with the trail all to yourself. Whether traversing rocky mountain flanks above an endless sea of fall color or charging down singletrack enveloped in a shroud of golden aspen, Mammoth Lakes has an inspiring fall ride for mountain bikers of all levels.

NOTE: Fall weather in the Eastern Sierra is quite consistent, although riders should expect cool mornings and evenings and dress accordingly. Typical of all mountainous terrain, the weather can change rapidly and reviewing the weather forecast is important, especially when riding the higher altitude trails just outside of Mammoth Lakes.

Fall Color Mountain Bike Trails in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Rock Trail

The 2.5-mile Mammoth Rock Trail is arguably Mammoth Lakes’ most iconic mountain bike ride. This singletrack trail literally carved out of the mountainside, is a remnant of an early miner’s pack trail. As the trail swoops above town and the aspen-dotted meadows below, riders are rewarded with expansive views of fall foliage surrounding Mammoth Lakes. Fall colors are not limited to trees on this trail, as many of the deciduous shrubs clinging precipitously to the mountainside display a variety of yellow, orange and red leaves in a dazzling kaleidoscope of color.

The trailhead is located near the end of Old Mammoth Road, just below the majestic monolith of Mammoth Rock. Many mountain bikers prefer to ride this trail as part of a loop, riding up Old Mammoth Road or Lake Mary Road and ending at the Sherwin Creek Road on the outskirts of town. From downtown, follow Old Mammoth Road uphill (southwest) until reaching the marked trail at the first sharp switchback.

Fall Color Mountain Bike Trails Just Outside of Mammoth Lakes

Lower Rock Creek Trail

The Lower Rock Creek Trail is a must-ride for mountain bike enthusiasts and the pathway contains some of the best late-season fall foliage in the region. The trail parallels the cascading mountain stream of Rock Creek where thousands of aspen, alder and cottonwood trees display their colors in late October. With eight miles of downhill singletrack located less than 30 minutes from Mammoth Lakes, this is one awesome late season ride.

To get to the Lower Rock Creek Trailhead, travel south on U.S. Highway 395 for 18 miles.

After passing the Tom’s Place exit, the turnoff for Rock Creek Road comes up quickly on the right. The upper trailhead parking is just off the road and the lower trailhead parking is at the bottom of the grade. The trail is separated into three sections, with the upper two characterized by flowing terrain and the lower, longer section marked with technical rock sections. A restroom is available at the lower parking area. Avoid walking across private property by making sure to follow signs to the bottom trailhead.

Yost Meadow Trail

One of the most spectacular mountain bike trails for fall foliage and scenic views is the Yost Meadows Trail. Located outside the small hamlet of June Lake, this singletrack trail begins with a steep climb. The effort is greatly rewarded as the trail quickly tapers off and passes under a breathtaking canopy of bright yellow quaking aspen for six miles. With unbelievable views, this unforgettable out-and-back trail ends at the natural expanse of Yost Meadow.

The Yost Meadow trailhead is located immediately across the highway from the June Lake Fire Station on the eastern edge of the village. To get there from Mammoth Lakes, travel north on U.S. Highway 395 for 17 miles, turning left onto State Route 158 (June Lake Loop Rd.). The trailhead is 1.5 miles from this intersection. 

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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