You want the whole enchilada? The big daddy? The grand slam? The … you get the point. This three-part adventure combines mountain biking, hiking, lakes, waterfalls, and epic views. Got your game face? Part 1: Begin with some fat tire fun in Mammoth Mountain’s Bike Park. Bring your own bike and gear or rent it at one at Mammoth Adventure Center at the Main Lodge, where you can also park your car and buy a pass to use the bike park. Enjoy the ride on “Downtown,” an easy-to-moderate “green circle” forest trail paralleling the main road for 4 miles to The Village at Mammoth, where you’ll roll on to Part 2. Follow the paved bike path paralleling Lake Mary Road for a 4.5-mile pedal to Horseshoe Lake. It’s a bit of a climb, so take your time and enjoy the scenery. You’ll pass Lake Mary before reaching Horseshoe Lake, a tranquil oasis and picnic area where you’ll lock up your bike (or hide it) and start a hike! Yep. Part 3 of this adventure happens on the Mammoth Pass Trail, a 4-mile journey leaving right from Horseshoe Lake.
A short but steady ascent gives way to an easy walk in the woods. Towards the end the trail breaks into the open, showcasing the jagged peaks of the famous Minarets as you descend switchbacks through patches of wildflowers to Red’s Meadow and Devil’s Postpile National Monument, a popular stop-off for Pacific Crest Trail trekkers who pick up fresh provisions. There’s a general store, a café, and a reliable shuttle service that’ll get you back to the Adventure Center. (But before you leave, take a short hike to Rainbow Falls, a 100-foot stunner that plunges over a sheer cliff on the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.) The shuttle will drop you back at the Adventure Center, where it all started. This is your Mammoth achievement! Nicely done.
TIP: Remember, you still have to go collect your bike at Horseshoe Lake, a few miles down the road. If you’ve rented a bike and time is tight, you can drop it off at the Mountain Center located in The Village at Mammoth (you can also rent bikes here, and buy your bike park pass).
STAY: Surrounded by majestic mountains, a walking and biking path, a burbling creek, and a golf course, Snow Creek Resort makes an excellent modern base camp. It offers a variety of condo rentals (including some dog-friendly options), with a fitness and spa facility. Their newer condos are mountain chic. For camping, Lake George has a first come, first served campground–some of the best real estate around for an alpine overnighter between the forest, glacier-fed water, and mountains.
Park at the Adventure Center, located at Mammoth’s Main Lodge at the mountain’s base. You can rent bikes and buy bike park tickets here. The “Downtown” trail leaves right from the Main Lodge. When you finish “Downtown” and arrive at the Village, make a right at the stop light on Lake Mary Rd. Go all the way to the end where you arrive at Horseshoe Lake and find the trailhead for the Mammoth Pass Trail. Lock or hide your bike here, then hike the trail following signs to Red’s Meadow. At Red’s Meadow catch a shuttle ($7) back to the Main Lodge and Adventure Center. If you’re doing this before Memorial Day or after Labor Day, check the shuttle schedule.