North American Bike Park Review Tour

MAMMOTH BIKE PARK

Los Angles is better know as a concrete jungle than a MTB destination, but thankfully its residents are spoiled for choices if they’re willing to brave a road trip. The Sierra Mountains lie just 5.5 hours north of LA and make for a veritable playground to anyone looking for outdoors fun. Whether it’s fishing on the Owen’s river, soaking in natural hot springs and lakes, enjoying fine dining, or riding some top notch MTB trails there’s plenty to keep you busy. Especially if you set your destination to Mammoth Mountain.

The area is one of the best West Coast ski areas during the winter, and each summer it transforms into a bike park that was the first in North America to allow eMTB access to the entire park. Mammoth is also the closest full amenities resort to Los Angeles, with a massive selection of trails, restaurants and things to do. Of course that’s what all the pamphlets say too, so let’s dig in and see if this place is actually as cool as it’s cracked up to be.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

THE TRAILS
Mammoth has a massive and incredibly diverse trail selection. Whether you’re a first time mountain biker or a seasoned pro racing the world cup, you’ll find terrain catered to your skills. In fact, there’s only a few parks we’ve visited that have such a well rounded trail network.

For beginner riders, Mammoth dedicated the entire Discovery chair to terrain that encourages gentile progression. It’s so well rounded that there are even trail options for riders who are just getting used to riding on dirt. From there, they can progress in the small skills area, or step it up to the other green trails in the zone that have slightly more built up features. The best part is that beginner riders can buy tickets exclusively for this zone that are cheaper than the rest of the park. Mammoth also offers a full demo fleet of bikes and lessons. If pedaling isn’t your thing at 11,500 feet of elevation, they also have e-bikes that are permitted to go anywhere on the mountain.

At 3,500 acres with over 80 miles of trail, there’s also lots to ride for non-beginners. For more advanced riders, there is a plethora of options from physically taxing XC trails to world class technical terrain on trails like Velociraptor, which was laid out by none other than Aaron Gwin himself. Mammoth’s terrain is highly unique, and makes the riding experience unlike anything else we’ve been to. A volcanic mountain that’s turned to granite, the area has lots of granite slabs, rock, and loose decomposed granite as a base soil. You won’t find any loam here.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Northstar Bike Park

Instead, you’ll be surfing and sliding around on decomposed granite the locals refer to as “kitty litter.” It’s about as perfect of a describer as one could pick to explain the soil type in this bike park. While it takes some getting used to, it’s makes for a fantastic time as you slide around and kick up massive roosts. On technical trails, the contrast between the hard granite slabs and embedded rock and the loose soil around it makes for a challenging and very fun time. Corners will sometimes have kitty litter that’s a foot deep in them, which is one of the funnest parts of riding in Mammoth. If you ride here, your foot out skills will definitely get a good sharpening!

It’s easy to see how Mammoth would be home to some proper technical trails, especially when you consider that the summit is at 11,500 feet, which is several thousand feet above the elevation of the town and gondola below. You can get in some seriously long laps in this park, especially if you work your way to the back side by Red’s lake. One of the must hit trails is Kamikaze, which has played host to lots of early MTB racing history.

When it comes to built features and jump trails, Mammoth struggles with construction and maintenance because of the loose, kitty litter soil they have. While they do their absolute best by using pavers on corners and lots of wood, it’s still not an easy task. Mammoth has done the best they can to make their jump trails worth riding however, with a solid progression in feature size and difficulty. Despite that, many of our favorite jumps were actually located on the tech trails since there’s ample natural gaps, drops and technical lines that involve some air time. The drop on Flow is also a stand out. It’s a drop that can either be sent small or absolutely massive depending on your commitment. The jump trail Pipeline is also a stand out, with a massive wooden shark fin that’s a blast to ride.

If you’re bringing an e-bike to Mammoth, you not only have full access to the bike park trails, but also have the ability to ride the uphill climbing trails. In a bike park this large and spread out, an e-bike actually makes a logical choice since it lets you easily explore many of the outer trails that are typically out of the normal list of options for pedal bikes.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

ON-SITE ACTIVITIES AND FOOD

The town of Mammoth and the village below the mountain are extensive and full of dining options ranging from 5 star dining to cheap, hole in the wall spots. In the village itself, Mammoth has some great options. 53 Kitchen is a must visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We highly recommend the pork chop if dinner is the call.

The village also plays host to Campo, a rustic Italian restaurant, and Sushi Rei. We ate at Campo during our stay and enjoyed the decor and friendly staff but it wasn’t our favorite. The prices are a tad high, and there’s plenty of cheaper dining, for example, Burgers Restaurant, which we absolutely loved. Aside from that, the village has all the shops and casual dining you could want along with a bike shop and rental area.

The mountain also offers lots of fun activities for non-bikers. There’s hiking trails galore, and riders and non-riders alike can take the gondola to the summit to take in the views from the peak. While it wasn’t finished in time for our visit this summer, Mammoth is also installing a multi part Mammoth Mega Zip line experience that will take you from the summit all the way down to the main lodge. The sheer size of the drops will make it an experience only for the strong at heart.

If that isn’t enough to test your fear of heights, they also have the Via Ferrata guided rock climbing experience. While we’re more than happy to jump our bike off a small cliff, clinging to the face of one that’s hundreds of feet off the ground definitely got the blood pumping! Designed to be doable even for people that don’t have climbing experience, a skilled guide navigates you through a series of increasingly difficult rock climbing routes that have hand and foot holds. It’s the perfect entry into the rock climbing world and a must do when you’re in Mammoth.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park
North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

WHAT BIKE TO BRING

Mammoth is a bike park that has lots of trails worthy of actually bringing a DH bike. Our Trek Sessions proved to be the perfect bike for the technical and fast trails the bike park offers. We also brought a Trek Slash and some Trek Powerflys, which were perfect to access the more pedal focused outer trails in the bike park. If we had to choose one bike to bring, most of us decided that it would probably be a DH bike, but riders of just about any genre will have something to ride.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

WHERE TO STAY

The Mammoth area has a large town, making lodging options plentiful. Prices range to fit any budget, and there’s even ample free camping near by in the forrest. Whether you’re here to be pampered at a 5 star hotel or trying to slum it in your truck, you’ll have a place to rest your head. We stayed at the Mammoth Mountain Inn, since it’s the closest hotel to the main lodge and lift. The rooms are spacious and the inn offers multiple Jacuzzis and a pool to rest your tired hands and legs after a day on the slope. We’ve also stayed at Juniper Springs and the Westin on previous trips and can vouch for their comfort and quality.

If you’re on a cheaper budget, the town of Mammoth also has a massive selection of Airbnb’s to choose from, whether you’re alone or with a bug group of friends.

For camping, we recommend staying down off of Benton Crossing Road or Whitmore Tubs roads by the airport. While it’s a short drive from down, the lower elevation will result in significantly warmer nighttime temps. If you’re prepared for cold or are visiting in the middle of summer, there’s also some great sites off the Mammoth Scenic Loop to set up for the night.

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

LOCAL INFO

For anyone camping without jacuzzi access at a fancy hotel, the hot springs are a must visit. Heck, we choose them over the hotel pool every time. You can check out the geo tags below, but there are several hot springs off of Benton Crossing Road. We recommend Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, since it’s the biggest and easiest to get to. You truly can’t beat watching the sun set behind the Minarets while you soak in a natural hot springs fueled by the geothermal activity in the Mammoth area.

After having a soak, you can head into town and grab dinner. Our two favorite dinner spots in town are Roberto’s and Burger. Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, Roberto’s Mexican restaurant is always jam packed with people. It’s for a good reason though, and the food and service are both top notch. You’ll be hard pressed to find better Mexican food in the mountains, and the burritos are big enough to fill you up for dinner and lunch the next day!

Burger is exactly what the name suggests. It’s the spot to go in town for a delicious burger, with a long history and list of awards for the burgers, chili and ribs. If you manage to leave this place without being uncomfortably full, you’re doing something wrong! Everything on the menu is absolutely phenomenal and worthy of photos to show your friends back home!

For breakfast, we always head straight for The Stove. A small town, country cooking vibe, this place cooks up breakfasts that have to be tasted to be believed. The Sierra Sunrise Skillet, Waffles, Soda Biscuits and home made pies are just a few of our favorites. Quite literally everything on the menu is worth trying!

Once you’ve had your fill of eating your way through town, you can also explore the myriad of activities the greater Mammoth area has to offer. Aside from the hot springs, one of our go to spots after riding is Lake Mary. The lake offers gorgeous views, swimming, fishing, and more. It also has boat, paddle board and kayak rentals which let you get out on the water to beat the summer heat. It’s easy to see why so many locals came up here for vacation and never went home!

Outside of Mammoth you can also take a short drive over to Yosemite Valley, or venture a little farther to see the perfectly preserved gold mining ghost town, Bodie. We could easily spend two weeks up here and never do the same thing two days in a row!

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park

THE WOLF’S LAST WORD

Mammoth bike park and the surrounding area is one of our favorite places to visit. The amount of activities and places to see in this part of the Sierras is second to none, and it’s hard to believe it’s such a short drive up from Los Angeles. While Mammoth may not have the wild party scene Whistler Bike Park boasts, it more than makes up for it with endless outdoor activities. Whether you’re on a trip with your riding friends or a vacation with the family, Mammoth will keep everyone busy and send them home with a to-do list for the next visit. The bike park offers a fully packed list of trails for a wide range of skill sets. While the soil is challenging, Mammoth has done an fantastic job at making the trails accessible to everyone through quality layout and building. If you’re a fan of technical riding, this park is a must visit spot in the South West of the U.S. We know we’ll be back again multiple times a year!

To learn more about Mammoth Bike Park, visit Mammothmountain.com/summer

THE FINAL SCORE
TRAILS: 8.5
AFFORDABILITY: 9
FOOD: 10
NIGHTLIFE: 5
LODGING: 10
CAMPING: 10
OFF MOUNTAIN: 10

North American Bike Park Review Tour - Mammoth Bike Park - 53 Kitchen

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