Top 5 XC Mountain Bike Trails Near Mammoth Lakes

Though Mammoth Mountain is famous for its downhill mountain bike park, there are plenty of options for those who prefer to pedal up, down and all around. From the famed Lower Rock Creek Trail to the popular Mammoth Rock Trail there are cross-country rides for those looking to climb and descend on two wheels.
Note: to ride the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park trails you must purchase a pass. The pedal pass is a great option for cross-country mountain bikers who don’t plan on riding the shuttle or gondola and just want to access the trails.

Paper Route Loop

Perhaps the most popular cross-country loop on Mammoth Mountain, Paper Route offers good, firm dirt and rolling terrain. The trail can be accessed from Uptown or Downtown. If you start and finish at the Village, access the trail via Uptown and return via Downtown for a 10-mile loop.

To ride the full Paper Route Loop, take Upper Paper Route from the Uptown/Downtown trail junction. The trail will descend slightly. Continue past the shaded rest area to the right. The trail then begins to descend again. At 1.5 miles keep right to stay on Paper Route as the trail climbs above the Cloud Nine Express ski lift. At the top of the climb, Skid Marks joins Paper Route as the trail begins to descend back to the rest area. Stay right to take the final downhill section of Paper Route back to the start near Chair 4.

Distance: 5.4 miles

Lowest elevation: 8,750 feet

Highest point: 9,060 feet

Difficulty: moderate – it’s cruisy.

Uptown – Beach Cruiser– Downtown

For a nice long cross-country pedal with a lot of climbing and an equally fun descent, combine Mammoth Mountain Bike Park’s Uptown Trail with the Beach Cruiser loop and descend on Downtown.

Uptown departs from the Village and travels uphill for 4.0 miles and goes all the way up to Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge. The terrain rolls and bends making the climbing pleasant and fun. At Main Lodge continue up on Beach Cruiser, which starts and finishes just across from the Gondola building. Beach Cruiser is a favorite among cross-country riders for its winding gentle climb and its fast and flowing descent. This trail has the best dirt on the mountain.

The trail climbs for 3.0 miles before it crosses Kamikaze and continues up for another 0.25 miles, before descending to Red Lake. Stay right on Beach Cruiser at the trail junction with Mountain View. After another short climb, the trail begins the fast and flowing downhill section all the way back to Main Lodge. From here, take the mellow and meandering Downtown Trail all the way back down to the Village.

Distance: 16.1 miles

Lowest elevation: 7,860 feet

Highest point: 9,443 feet

Difficulty: moderately difficult – a lot of climbing, but totally fun.

Mountain View Trail

Panoramic views of the Minarets and Ritter Range from the top of the Mountain View Trail are an incentive to take a ride, but the fast fire roads and winding singletrack are the fun part. This trail is not part of the bike park and is accessible to anyone.

Start at the Earthquake Fault Trailhead and follow the Mountain View Trailhead signs. There are many trail junctions, so it is important to pay attention to the small yellow mountain bike trail markers.

For a longer ride, start and finish at the Village and take the Uptown-Downtown trail. Be sure to look for the turn-off to Earthquake Fault. The trails above this junction are for pass holders only.

Distance: 11.0 miles

Lowest elevation: 8,638 feet

Highest point: 9,170 feet

Difficulty: moderate – for some reason this trail seems to be uphill both ways. Be ready to pedal.

Lower Rock Creek Trail

About 30-minutes south of Mammoth is the famed Lower Rock Creek Trail. Though this trail is typically ridden in a downhill direction (8 miles) with a car shuttle, many cross-country riders enjoy pedaling the top two sections as an out-and-back, or a loop (6 miles) using the road for the ascent.

The top of the trail is located on Lower Rock Creek Road near Highway 395. The top two sections are fast and flowing singletrack that follow the Rock Creek through aspen groves. When the trail crosses the road, pedal up to the start of the second section. At the bottom of the second section, the trail crosses the road again. The third section is much more technical with numerous rock gardens, and is a good challenging ride

Distance: 11.0 miles

Lowest elevation: 5,727 feet

Highest point: 6,880 feet

Difficulty: moderate to difficult – fun and flowing downhill with a technical and challenging third section.

Uptown – Paper Route – Lakes Trail – Panorama Dome – Mammoth Rock Trail

The ultimate cross country mountain bike route in Mammoth Lakes is a combination of the best trails up, across, and down Mammoth Mountain.  If you don’t purchase a bike park pass, an alternative to this route is to ride up Mammoth Rock Trail, loop Panorama Dome, and return on Mammoth Rock Trail.

From the Village take the Uptown Trail (3.3 miles) to the Upper Paper Route Junction. It is a climb, but the trail winds nicely through the forest and is a pleasant ride. Follow Upper Paper Route (2.7 miles) past the shaded rest area and continue on the trail as it gradually descends. Take the Lakes Trail (1.0 mile) turn-off. It traverses the eastern slope of Mammoth Mountain, and climbs up a short and steep ridge before descending to Twin Lakes. This is a great spot for a photo and a rest break.

At Twin Lakes, cross the road and take the Panorama Dome Trail (0.8 miles) to the left. This is a short but very fun section of trail with good dirt and fast flowing terrain through a lodgepole pine forest. Follow the signs to Mammoth Rock Trail.

At Old Mammoth Road go left to the second bend in the road to access the trailhead. The multi-use Mammoth Rock Trail (2.6 miles) is a fun, mostly downhill, and sometimes-technical singletrack that traverses the Sherwin Ridge. Named for the iconic limestone monolith, Mammoth Rock, the trail offers fantastic views of the town and meadow below. Be sure to enjoy the final descent and take care to yield to uphill riders, and hikers.

Distance: 11.0 miles

Lowest elevation: 7,872 feet

Highest point: 8,573 feet

Difficulty: moderate – fun cross-country pedal that traverses Mammoth Mountain.

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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