Ride Review: Sand Canyon Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Lots of people have been hitting me up about good places to ride in and around Mammoth, that are FREE.  The riding at the resort is great- who doesn’t love jumping on the gondola and railing 70 miles of single track?  Unfortunately, with ticket prices at $43/day, it’s kinda motivating to earn your turns on some free trails and save some loot for the bar.

Sign at the top of the Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail near Mammoth Lakes, California

Sign at the top of the Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail near Mammoth Lakes, California

Once you pass this trail sign, you still have some steep, potentially hike-a-bike climbing until you reach the official Sand Canyon Trailhead.

Once you pass this trail sign, you still have some steep, potentially hike-a-bike climbing until you reach the official Sand Canyon Trailhead.

Riding this trail in autumn / fall is spectacular.

Riding this trail in autumn / fall is spectacular.

Sand Canyon Trail is about 20 miles south of Mammoth, and definitely worth knocking out if you’re in the hood.  It’s really close to Lower Rock Creek Trail (my favorite trail in the Mammoth area- period.) – and can be combined with it for an epic day of riding.

view of Rock Creek Lake near the trail head to Sand Canyon

The Goods:

  • Fast and flowy single track in the upper section
  • Sick views
  • Steep double track and jeep roads down lower… super fast, let ‘er rip – that’s what I like about double track, you have two single tracks to choose from 🙂

The Bads:

  • The don’t call it Sand Canyon for nothing.  Can be soft and loose.  Kinda like the neighborhood (fill in the blank).

How I do it:  I like to climb, so of course, I climb instead of shuttling.  I park at Tom’s Place.  Just off the 395 at the Rock Creek Rd. exit.  Then you ride about 9 miles up Rock Creek Rd. and gain almost 3k in elevation.  This warms you up, and you turn off at Rock Creek Lake to hit the trail head.  Sometimes, when it’s open (seasonal), I’ll hit the Pie In The Sky at Rock Creek Resort after the initial climb up the road, before starting the trail.  Best slice of pie you’ll have anywhere around here.  Again, this can be shuttled if you prefer.  Anyhoo, once at the trail head, you have to climb a little bit more.  You get up above Rock Creek Lake for some wicked views before starting the descent.  Then it’s on like Donkey Kong- high speed roller coaster status, getting sideways in the sand, ramming and jamming all the way down.  Check out this video I shot with my homey Jeremy, while he killed it in his 4 wheel DH bike.

Anyhoo, once you trail shoots you out on the road in Swall Meadows, you have to ride back to Lower Rock Creek Rd.   Then go back up the road to the 395, or jump on Lower Rock Creek Trail and ride up the dirt before hitting the 395, and up a little more back to Tom’s Place- by the time this is said and done, you have done a lot of climbing- so most people shuttle by leaving a car in Swall Meadows, or at the bottom of Lower Rock Creek in Paradise.  That way they can tag the two trails together.  But if you do park in Tom’s Place, then you’ve earned your burger and milkshake at the diner- so fricking good!!

Pick up a guide book, ask the friendly people at Footloose Sports, or email me for more details

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3 Responses to Ride Review: Sand Canyon Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

  1. Sand Canyon is the BEST!!! Lets hit it again, Alan. If anyone wants to go, please take me!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Starkweather Lake Trail – Mammoth Lakes Hidden Gem | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

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