Fantastic Family Biking in the Mammoth Lakes Basin

Feb 17, 2022

Spring has arrived in Mammoth Lakes! The days are getting longer, trails are increasingly free of snow, and bikes are everywhere. The Mammoth Lakes Basin is the perfect place to enjoy a family ride in spring, summer, and fall. It’s accessible, spectacularly scenic, and you can make it as easy or as challenging an adventure as you like.

Background

The paved Lakes Basin bike path was conceptualized in the late 1990s and became a multi-million dollar, multi-agency cooperative project completed in 2011. Today the 5.3-mile path is a crown jewel of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System. The path begins at the intersection of Lake Mary and Minaret Roads near The Village at Mammoth, parallels Lake Mary Road, and winds through the forested Lakes Basin passing Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, and Lake Mamie before terminating at Horseshoe Lake.

Horseshoe Loop Mountain Bike Trail

The unpaved trail that loops around Horseshoe Lake is an ideal introduction to mountain biking, and a fun way for kids and adults to build confidence as they get accustomed to riding on our pumice soil. It’s also very easy for kids to walk their bikes in any section they are not comfortable riding yet. Along the relatively flat, pleasantly shaded 1.8 mile ride, you’ll cross seven bridges before meeting back up with the paved path. Be aware that many people enjoy walking their dogs here, so be alert for pooches and pedestrians!

Elevation and Options

While you can certainly ride the paved path in both directions, it’s a significant and steady climb beginning at an altitude of just over 8,000 feet and topping out at just over 9,000 feet of elevation. A great option, especially if you haven’t yet acclimated to the altitude, is to ride the free Lakes Basin Trolley which typically operates from late May through early September. Trolleys depart from the Village near the bottom of the stairs to the Westin Monache Resort and from the Horseshoe Lake parking area on the hour and half hour between 9:00am and 6:00pm. All trolleys are equipped with bike trailers so it’s very easy to secure your bike, sit back, and enjoy the ride. It’s truly a lot of fun to take the trolley from the Village up to Horseshoe Lake and then be able to ride down the hill with minimal effort. Another option is to park at Horseshoe Lake and limit your ride to the flatter sections of the path above the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit. You can also do a car shuttle if you have two vehicles or use a local taxi service to return you to your car after the ride.

Renting Bikes

Another fun option is to rent an electric bike for a motorized assist on the climb. This option works best for families with older teens or very young children. Bike rentals are available from ASO Mammoth, Footloose Sports, Get Outdoors 365, the Mammoth Adventure Center , The Mountain Center at The VillageP3 Mammoth, Play Big Outdoors, and Wave Rave.

Safety

Be sure to observe a few safety precautions and be especially certain your kids are comfortable braking and steering their bikes. Observe all posted signs including speed limits, yield to pedestrians and come to a full stop at road crossings. Never assume cars are going to stop for you. There is a couple of places where horses may cross the trail. Always yield when horses are present, and follow the signed directions to Stop, Speak, and Stand until all horses have passed. Horses may occasionally be wary of bikes but hearing the human voice lets them know you’re not a predator. Wear a helmet, apply sunscreen and bring plenty of water. Insider tip: Be sure to stop and admire the great views at the Twin Lakes falls overlook and also take a short detour to ride over the bridge between Upper and Lower Twin Lakes for another view of the falls. I once was lucky enough to see a bear swimming here! Be sure to look up as well since there are frequent bald eagle sightings throughout the Lakes Basin. Does your family have a favorite bike ride in or around Mammoth Lakes? Or a favorite activity in the Mammoth Lakes Basin? Please leave a comment below!

Betsy Temple-Truax

Betsy loves living and playing in Mammoth Lakes and the Eastern Sierra with her active family and friends. A passionate advocate for community recreation, Betsy never turns down an opportunity to swim, ski, paddle, travel or let someone else cook.

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