With an elevation above 8,000 feet and a mountainous landscape, Mammoth Lakes provides plenty of options for the hardcore road, or extreme downhill mountain biker. But what about bike trails for the family?
With a one year old ready for adventure, we've had an opportunity this Spring to explore the more easy going and low traffic bike routes in Mammoth and I thought it would be a good idea to share for those considering a trip to Mammoth this Summer with the kids in tow.
The Lakes Basin Bike Path
This bike route is officially called the Lake Mary Bike Path Project by the town, but it actually traverses the entire Lower Lakes region passing several lakes, including Twin Lakes, Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Lake George and Horseshoe Lake. This relatively new bike path is 5.4 miles one way, and is a class 1 bike path, which means it is separated from traffic and only bikes and pedestrians are permitted.
The path begins at the intersection of Main Street and Minaret Road, where the name of the road changes to Lake Mary Road. There is a parking lot across the street from Whiskey Creek.
The path follows Lake Mary Road all the way up the hill, a good climb, especially towing a one year old in the back, but you are rewarded with great views of Mammoth below as it approaches Twin Lakes at an elevation of 8,540 feet.
For those who want to skip the first leg there is also parking at the bottom of Twin Lakes with beautiful views of the lakes and Twin Falls in the distance, and Mammoth Creek to your left on the downside of the hill.
Straight ahead on Lake Mary Road you can cross the bridge and about 100 yards after make a right turn onto Twin Lakes Road. On your right is lower Twin Lakes, and up ahead is upper Twin lakes and on your left is Tamarack Lodge Resort, site of some great cross country skiing trails in the Winter. You can stop here for refreshments, or continue on up towards Lake Mary.
Once you've passed through the Twin Lakes area, you're in for another climb. The path meanders through the forest and finally meets up again with Lake Mary Road. You'll pass the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit on your right, and you'll smell it before you see it! This establishment offers horseback riding through the Basin area, and is actually another great idea for a family Summer day in Mammoth.
From here, you'll continue uphill towards Lake Mary at an elevation of 8,920 feet. Once the road starts to turn right you are almost there. Lake Mary is the largest lake in the area and a popular spot for fishing, kayaking and paddle boarding. You can rent a boat at the Lake Mary Marina.
A possible add-on side trip is to make a left at Around Lake Mary Road, and take the loop around the lake. The loop is about 2 miles and flat, a nice break after all the climbing. We opted to take the loop and we stopped and had lunch alongside the lake and enjoyed the views. There are plenty of park benches and camp spots, especially during week days in the summer, just make sure and clean up afterwards and leave the area as you found it. And remember, this is bear country!
Once we finished our loop around the lake and met back up with the bike path, we headed up again towards Lake Mamie at 8,898 feet, also a popular spot with fishermen. Here there are some great photo opportunities, both of Lake Mamie and the view from the top of Twin Falls on your right is great.
Following the trail past Mamie, it's another mile or so to Horseshoe Lake at 8,950 feet, the final destination. For those without kids on mountain bikes, you can ride around the lake and meet up with the bike path on the back side of the lake. Our visit here yesterday illustrated the effects of the record low snowfall last winter, as the water line was extremely low.
It's also easy to access Lake George, look for the signs posted if you're circling Lake Mary, or take the second turnoff for Around Lake Mary Road from the bike path and it's over the bridge on the right hand side.
This bike ride makes for a terrific Summer excursion for the whole family. Pack a lunch, bring some sunscreen and plenty of water and enjoy the outdoors with your kids!
If you need equipment, there are several stores in town who rent bikes for kids and adults, and trailers for the little ones too. Try Footloose Sports or Mammoth Sporting Goods for the biggest selections.
I've also included a link to a google map I've created for this ride, you can check it out here: Mammoth Lakes Basin Family Bike Ride.
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Thanks, and we hope to see you in Mammoth!