Industry News Ride Spot

Ride Spot: Mammoth Lakes, CA

High elevation riding with views for days.

The Mammoth area sits about 7,000 feet with trails that can easily reach 9,000 to 11,000 feet making it a great summer destination. There is an extensive, organized trail system in the Mammoth Valley. But be ready for dust and whoops if you stay close in. The good news is from Mammoth, you can take things at your own pace – explore close in and keep the rides short, or venture out and get to Mono Lake, Bridgeport and Bishop!

There are several campgrounds that offer OHV trail access right from camp and many more dispersed areas if you look hard enough.  Improved Forest Service campgrounds include Glass Creek Campground (no reservations), Big Springs Campground (no reservations) and Sherwin Creek Campground (by reservation).

Mammoth Lakes Trail System

The Mammoth Lakes Trail System offers boundless recreation opportunities on more than 300 miles of trails. 

The Mammoth Lakes Trail System connects riders to a vast native-dirt road/trail network to the north, east and southeast of town. From staging areas along the Scenic Loop, Sherwin Creek Road and the north side of Highway 203, riders can explore the world’s largest Jeffrey pine forest, from the San Joaquin Ridge to Deadman Creek and Lookout Mountain, and east across the Long Valley Caldera. OHVs are permitted only on roads and motorized trails as published on the Inyo National Forest Motorized Vehicle Use Map (MVUM); roads on the MammothTrails.org maps reflect the 2011 MVUM.

Highway 395 OHV Tunnel GPS Coordinates: 37.70169, -118.95049

The Town of Mammoth Lakes in conjunction with the Forest Services publishes a great map with Off Highway Vehicle trails. It is available at any Ranger Station and Visitor Center.

Keep OHV experiences alive on public lands – stay on designated roads and trails at all times.

Knolls Loop  – The closest multi-use trail to downtown Mammoth, this moderate, locals’-favorite loop is best accessed from the Shady Rest Path at the edge of Old Shady Rest Campground. In either direction, the trail alternates between singletrack, sandy OHV trails and dirt fire roads, climbing through old-growth Jeffrey pine forest into hills and domes formed by volcanic eruptions as recently as 100,000 years ago and affording broad views to the Inyo Craters and back across to the Sherwins.

Inyo Craters Road – 3 miles one way / High Clearance Vehicle Recommended
Leaves from the Mammoth Scenic Loop Road and travels along the base of the Inyo Craters. Park at the craters parking lot for a short walk to the rim of one of the craters. This is a great place to view ancient volcanic activity. Can be used with parts of routes A8 and A6 to make a complete circle around the Inyo Craters.

GPS Coordinates: 37.68902, -119.00554

Lookout Mountain Loop – This experience starts north of Mammoth Lakes at the Highway 395 tunnel, just before Forest Service Road #3S06, and heads south. It is marked with brown-and-white directional signage. The road circumnavigates Lookout Mountain in a counterclockwise route. There are spectacular 360-degree views of the Long Valley Caldera and other volcanic features such as Obsidian Dome and Mono Craters along the way.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain

Laurel Lakes Road – A relatively quick out-and-back trip that leads up a steep glacial moraine with plenty of views and switchbacks, this experience is scenic and offers a bonus of camping and fishing options along the way. Abundant aspen trees offer creek-side shade and color, and deer migrate through the area in spring and fall. The road steepens and narrows the higher you go, with lots of rough, rocky sections. Late-spring snow often makes the trail impassable until after July 4th.

GPS Coordinates for Highway 395 turnoff: 37.63658, -118.89359

Laurel Lakes Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 37.62349, -118.90657

Laurel Lakes

Laurel Lakes

Laurel Lakes

Laurel Lakes

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Laurel Lakes is a great destination in the Mammoth Valley. At just below 10,000 feet of elevation, Laurel Lake is a small backcountry sub-alpine lake uniquely accessible by driving. In 4.5 very rough and rocky miles, the historic mining road climbs steeply from Sherwin Creek Road to the edge of the John Muir Wilderness. The road is not recommended for any but the sturdiest high-clearance 4×4 vehicles, and it's popular with the OHV set. There are primitive campsites near the lake, which contains rainbow trout and rare native goldens. #MammothValley #canamoffroadlivin #AdventureRide @canamoffroad @itptireswheels @tmwoffroad @gaiagps @mobarmor @cognitomotorsports @fox @shocktherapyusa @ruggedradios @assaultutv

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Bald Mountain Road – Leaves Hwy. 395 from the top of Deadman Summit at Logging Camp road and goes to the Bald Mountain fire lookout station.  Stay on 1S05 and follow the directions signs to Bald Mountain lookout.  There are great views and the road is well-maintained. 

GPS Coordinates: 37.78390, -118.90157

East Craters Loop – From Mammoth Lakes, head north on Hwy. 395.  Turn right on a dirt road 200 yards past the June Lake Junction.  100 yards down this dirt road there is a kiosk. The sights you will see include mono Craters, Sand Flats, and Devil’s punchbowl.  The loop follows the same road for 24 bumpy, dusty and spectacular scenic miles. 

Crater Flat Loop – 5 miles one way – 4WD High Clearance Vehicle Recommended
From the Mammoth Lakes Scenic Loop, take Inyo Craters Road 3S22. The Crater Flat Loop starts on the left, 500 yards down Inyo Craters Road and goes through Crater Flats and thick Jeffrey Pine forest. Great views of Mammoth Mountain from the flats. Continue to Deadman Creek Road. From here go east all the way to Hwy. 395 or follow Deadman Creek until you reach the campground where Inyo Craters Road leads back to the Scenic Loop.

Sawmill-Alpers Canyon Trail – Take Sawmill Cutoff Road 3S08 at Shady Rest Campground (across Hwy. 203 from Mc Donald’s). This road leads north until it intersects Hwy. 395. Motorcycles and ATVs can cross Hwy. 395 via a tunnel. All other vehicles cross Hwy. 395 at the Scenic Loop Road. Take 3S06 to 2S06 to 2S88 to Owens River Road. Turn left and go a short distance, then turn right on to 2S04 west to 1S05, which head south to join Hwy. 395. This route offers good views and lots of variety of terrain.

Deadman Creek – Go west from Hwy. 395 just past the Crestview Rest Area and Owens River Road on 2S05. The road follows Deadman Creek toward its headwaters.

San Joaquin Ridge Trail – This old rocky road begins near the Minaret Vista, 30 yards after turning right off of Hwy. 203. The road travels up the ridge to Deadman Pass. Spectacular views of the Minarets, Mammoth Mountain, Long Valley Caldera and the White Mountains from a 360° vantage point. 

June Lake

Outside of Mammoth Valley

Wheeler Ridge Trail – Trail follows an old mining road across a jagged ridge near 11,000 feet. Daunting views as you look down 6,500 feet to Round Valley and Bishop below. Trail follows wilderness corridor. Absolutely no straying from designated route. This route begins North of Bishop out of Swall Meadows, take Lower Rock Creek Rd. turn West on Swall Meadows Rd. then turn on Sky Meadow Rd. turn North on Rd. # 30E303, then west on #30E302 at 37.52304, -118.64386 and continue for several miles. Then a left on #30E301 at 37.48764, -118.70960.  This route will take you to nearly 11,000’ elevation to a viewpoint with spectacular views, this is a very difficult OHV road with steep climbs with boulders,  4WD with high clearance and experienced drivers are needed to reach the viewpoint. There are some parts of the trails with absolutely no room to pass if you encounter an oncoming vehicle.

Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge

Mono Lake – From June Lakes Junction, it is easy to travel off-road down to Mono Lake.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

Beyond the Mammoth Valley, the off-road trails are endless.  We use Gaia GPS to plan and track our routes while exploring.  We strongly suggest you have a GPS and do some exploring around on the Gaia App before you hit the trail.  We have a discount code for Gaia that is cheaper than buying direct – https://www.gaiagps.com/utvguide

Where to Camp

Glass Creek Campground – Located in pine forest north of Mammoth Lakes, this campground has 66 campsites. While the sites are dry, with no hook ups they are large and can accommodate RV’s up to 45 ft. 

Located off of Highway 395 at Glass Creek Road GPS 37.75153, -118.98918

Big Springs Campground – Located between Mammoth Lakes and June Lake, near the Crestview area, this campground has 26 campsites surrounded by pine forest. This is a popular basecamp for fishing Deadman Creek, exploring Obsidian Dome and OHV/ATV trails in the Lookout Mountain area.

Located off Owens River Road, east of Highway 395 at GPS 37.74817, -118.93905

You can also camp all along Owens River Road.

Sherwin Creek Campground – This 85-site campground at 7,600 feet elevation within 2 miles of the full-service community of Mammoth Lakes, California. Take US 395 to State Highway 203. Head west to Mammoth Lakes, left at first traffic light in town onto Old Mammoth Road. South 0.9 miles to Sherwin Creek Road, then left 1.5 miles to campground.

Reservations $22.12/night. Website: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232271

Located off Sherwin Creek Road at GPS 37.62885, -118.93785.

Browns Owens River Campground – 80+ RV and tent sites located six miles east of U.S. 395 on Benton Crossing Road.

Fuel

You can get fuel at the Shell Station at June Lakes Junction. They do have Premium and expect to pay higher amount due to the location.

June Lakes Junction

June Lakes Junction

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