Loop designed around the perimeter of Mammoth
A new soft-surface loop has been proposed around the perimeter of Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Manager Andrew Mulford has spent the last year trying to connect disparate trails around Mammoth in an attempt to make a single 50 mile loop encompassing the town. The way that Mulford envisions the loop, it will be almost entirely single track trails or dirt road and could be completed by spring 2021.
Mulford explained his project to Mammoth Lakes Recreation at its Tuesday meeting.
80% of this route is already built and connected. The largest unbuilt portion is an 11 mile stretch through Solitude Canyon.
Mulford spent last summer designating the ideal center line for a part of the loop through Solitude Canyon, taking into account gradient, views, and directness. Now that the trail has been designed, the Forest Service must do an environmental review on the land. Mulford said that the most likely issue to kill this trail would be heritage sites found during archeological review.
Mulford is hopeful that this won’t be an issue.
“It’s high and dry. There is no water and people weren’t spending a lot of time up there,” he said.
Mulford also said an environmental review was already completed in the ‘80s when investors were considering a ski resort on the Sherwin Range, which could help inform the current review process.
If this section is found unusable by the Forest Service, the loop could be connected via Old Mammoth Road.
Scott McGuire, who sits on the Mammoth Lakes
Recreation board and chairs the Mammoth Lakes Tourism board, was excited about the opportunities that this loop offers.
“The benefits are three-fold,” he said. “We can utilize the natural resources and trails to benefit the people who live here. It is an attraction for people to come to town to run or mountain bike a 50 mile loop that begins and ends in town, and there is the possibility to host events without having to get a special use permit.”
Mulford specifically kept this proposed trail out of designated wilderness areas where a special use permit would be required for event hosting.
McGuire said that this loop could host an ultramarathon of the same caliber as the Hardrock 100 Mile Endurance Race in Silverton, Colorado, or the Western States 100 in Auburn, California, though likely not as big.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever have 10,000 people (coming to town to race),” McGuire said. “…But the idea of things that benefit the public that also benefit tourism and are not limited to the ski resort are exciting.”
The proposed route has sections that do not allow bikes, specifically the Dragon’s Back Trail and Mammoth Mountain Hiking Trail. Mulford said that a 50-mile mountain bike route could be created if those trails are replaced by Manzanita or Paper Route on the frontside of the mountain, though the rider would need a ticket to ride Mammoth Mountain Bike Trails to make that work.
Mulford said that if the Forest Service can complete its environmental review in summer 2019, then the town can start building the trails and putting up signage in spring 2020. With enough hands on deck the new route could be completed in a season.
Here is the route that Mulford described:
Beginning on Highway 203 and heading clockwise, a hiker would head south on Mammoth Creek Road and cross Mammoth Creek on a trail bridge connecting her to Sherwin Creek Road. She would follow Sherwin Creek Road to town and then take the Mammoth Rock Trail for a mile into the Sherwins. There she will hit a proposed intersection with the Solitude Canyon Trail (which has not been built yet), head west through Solitude Canyon, into the Tele Bowls, and through old growth forest climbing up to the Sherwin Ridge, just south of The Perch. She winds her way down the back side of the Sherwins to tie into Heart Lake Trail at Mammoth Consolidated Mine, and takes the Coldwater-George Trail to Lake George.
From there the hiker either takes the road to the Mammoth Pass Trail, or, if possible, Mulford would like to build an extension of the Lake George path that would take the hiker onto a proposed trail from Lake Mamie to Horseshoe Lake and onto the Mammoth Pass Trail all via soft surfaces.
The Mammoth Pass Trail takes the hiker up towards McCloud and onto the Mammoth Mountain Pass Trail. From there, she takes Dragon’s Back Hiking Trail to the back of the summit of Mammoth Mountain, where it turns into Mammoth Mountain Hiking Trail. She follows that past main lodge to Minaret Vista. That takes her onto the Mountain View Trail and eventually intersects with Forest Service roads.
These Forest Service roads head past Crater Flat, onto the Knolls Loop, then northeast of Shady Rest Park and back to Highway 203 via dirt roads, or one day, Mulford hopes, single track trail.