Top 4 Trails for Fall Running in Mammoth Lakes

Fall is the best time of year—just ask a runner. With fall marathon season under way, inspiration to get out the door and run is high. And the cool mornings, warm days, and fall colors provide great weather and scenery for trail running.

Tim Tollefson, the US 50k Trail Running National Champion, lives and trains on the trails in Mammoth Lakes year round. These are his favorite routes for fall trail running.

Mammoth Rock Trail

“If you are looking for a challenging climb with breathtaking views—literally, Mammoth Rock Trail is a must. After ascending nearly 800 feet from Sherwin Creek Road to Mammoth Rock, be sure to take a moment to rest the legs and appreciate the stunning views overlooking Snow Creek and across the valley toward the White Mountains!”

Distance: 5.0 miles round-trip

Trailhead: Mammoth Rock Trailhead

Trailhead coordinates: 37.628920, -118.956826

Trailhead elevation: 8,500 feet

Highest point: 7,868 feet

Difficulty: difficult

Horseshoe Lake Trail

“Be sure to check out the mellow dirt loop around Horseshoe Lake before winter hits and is under snow until late spring. You’ll be presented with gentle trail that meanders through the forest, across several quaint bridges, and has constant views of the lake. Be very cautious to gauge your effort as the elevation tops out at just over 9,000ft!”

Distance: 1.8-mile loop

Trailhead: Horseshoe Lake

Trailhead coordinates: 37.615172, -119.021097

Trailhead elevation: 8,900 feet

Highest point: 9,000 feet

Difficulty: easy, except for the altitude!

Uptown-Downtown Trails

“Now that the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park is closed, the public section of Uptown and Downtown should have less crowds. Treat yourself to perfectly groomed singletrack trails starting right from the Village. Take Uptown 1.8 miles to the Earthquake Fault-Mountain View trail junction and either loop back to the Village on Downtown, or continue up Mountain View to Main Lodge for over 1,000 feet of climbing and roughly 10 miles round trip.”

Distance: 3.5 miles

Trailhead: The Village

Trailhead coordinates: 37.652444, -118.985086

Trailhead elevation: 8,050 feet

Highest point: 8,520 feet

Difficulty: moderate to difficult  

Town Loop from Mammoth Creek Park

“For an easy flat run, start at Mammoth Creek Park and take the Town Loop paved path roughly 1 mile to the Vista Point overlooking Owen’s Valley with panoramic views of the Sherwin’s and Mammoth Mountain. For a longer 4 mile loop with hills, continue down the path, through the Meridian tunnel, and back up around the Hospital on Sierra Park Road.”

Distance: 2.0 miles round trip (to the lookout point and back)

Trailhead: Mammoth Creek Park

Trailhead coordinates: 37.636008, -118.966758

Trailhead elevation: 7,855 feet

Lowest point: 7,700 feet

Difficulty: easy

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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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