The best routes for pedaling on pavement in the Eastern Sierra
Winding mountain roads with little traffic provide ample routes for pedaling around the Eastern Sierra on a road bike. If the altitude doesn’t take your breath away, the scenery most definitely will.
1. Reds Meadow Ride
The winding and steep road that descends to Reds Meadow is a thrill for downhill riders, and the climb back out will truly test you aerobic capacity. From the Village take Minaret Road/Highway203 past Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge and continue to the Minaret Vista. This is the highest point on the ride. Descending to Red’s Meadow you’ll see great views of the Minarets and the Ritter Range as the road drops steeply into the valley. Be sure to use caution and control your speed. The road has not been resurfaced in years and the cliff is steep. Although passenger vehicles are not allowed without a camping permit, shuttle buses take up much of the one lane road.
At Agnew Meadows the road makes a sharp left and continues to descend, rolling through the forest, past Starkweather Lake, Devils Postpile National Monument, and Sotcher Lake before the road ends at Reds Meadow Resort. Refill your water bottles, and pick up a snack or lunch before the long and strenuous climb out of the valley.
28 miles round-trip (starting/finishing at the Village)
Yep, it’s a tough one. The Minaret Vista is the top of the ride, but remember you have to climb there twice for nearly 3,000 feet of total elevation.
For more info, visit MammothTrails.org
2. Mammoth Lakes Basin Path Loop
The Lakes Basin Path promises relatively gentle climbing on fresh pavement with views to kill the pain. Though this route climbs 1,000 feet, the path winds in and out of aspen groves, past numerous lakes, and offers stunning vistas of Mammoth Mountain, Mammoth Crest, and Long Valley.
The path will take you all the way to Horseshoe Lake before it ends. To make it a loop, return on the path, turn right at Pokonobe Lodge, and loop around Lake Mary. For additional mileage and climbing, pedal up-and-back to Lake George, and to the Coldwater Trailhead. Be sure to control your speed when heading down the LBP, stay on the right side, and enjoy the view as you descend back to town.
14 miles round-trip (starting/finishing at the Village)
: 9,022 feet
: Relatively easy if you road bike a lot; moderately difficult if you are new on a bike and visiting from sea level.
3. June Lake Loop
The June Lake Loop is one of the more scenic roads to ride in the Eastern Sierra with moderate elevation gain. There are plenty of hills that add up to nearly 900-feet of climbing, but the terrain is rolling and enjoyable.
Start at the June Lake Beach and turn right on North Shore Drive then left on the June Lake Loop. At the junction with Highway 395 turn left heading north. In seven miles, turn left to get back on to Highway 158 at the north end of the June Lake Loop. Enjoy the views of Grant Lake, and Silver Lake as the loop winds through the mountains and aspen groves. In another 12 miles, turn left on North Shore Drive just before Gull Lake; the route continues to climb over the highest point before descending back to June Lake Beach.
To make this a full-day ride, start and finish in Mammoth. Take the Scenic Loop to Highway 395 north, continue past the June Lake Junction to the north end of the loop and follow the directions above. Return to Mammoth via Highway 395 and the Scenic Loop for a 58-mile round-trip ride.
4. Mammoth Scenic Loop
The Scenic Loop is a classic area route and is often used as a way to get to-and-from Mammoth Lakes on longer rides and loops. It is also a great out-and-back introduction to Mammoth road biking all by itself.
Starting at the Village at Mammoth, head up Minaret Road and turn right on the Mammoth Scenic Loop. The route continues to climb for a short while before it begins the descent. The road winds through a Jeffery Pine forest and eventually intersects with Highway 395. For a quiet and gentle climb back, return the same way. For the loop option, turn right on Highway 395 for a few miles and return to Mammoth Lakes via Highway 203 (warning: this climb is a grind).
18 miles round-trip
: 8,350 feet
Short and sweet. For more info, visit MammothTrails.org
5. Mammoth Gran Fondo
The ultimate test of a road biker’s fitness in the High Sierra is the annual Mammoth Gran Fondo. It is an organized and supported fun ride and race that provides big views, long climbs, and fast descents. The event takes place in early September each year and also offers shorter course options.
If you are visiting the High Sierra in mid-summer or want to test your endurance another time of year, study the route and head out solo on 100-mile route. (Be sure to carry lots of water, as there are no services along the way!)
More Information: http://www.fallcentury.org
: 102 miles
: 6,500 feet
: 8,124 feet
: That depends on how good of shape you are in.
Mammoth Road Biking Resources and Supplies:
, 3043 Main St, (760) 934-2400