Weekend Getaway: Mammoth, CA — Train Like an Olympian

Run, bike, rock climb, ski, snowboard, hike… the outdoor adventures are endless in Mammoth Lakes.

“Mammoth Lakes is known for world-class skiing and snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain, but there is so much opportunity for outdoor recreation the rest of the year as well,” said Lara Kaylor, Director of Communications for Mammoth Lakes Tourism.  “You’ll often hear locals say they came for the winter but stayed for the summer.”

The Mammoth Lakes Basin and Mammoth Mountain are located to the south of the East Gate of Yosemite National Park. There are flights into Mammoth Yosemite Airport or Mammoth Lakes Airport. Another option is to drive five hours northeast from Los Angeles or five hours southeast from Sacramento.

The town of Mammoth Lakes sits at more than 7,800 feet above sea level, making it an ideal high-altitude training destination. Mammoth Mountain is the training mountain for Olympians Shaun White, Chloe Kim, Greg Bretz and many others.

“For more than a decade this small, mountain community has produced some of the

most successful endurance athletes in the world,” Kaylor said. Three-time Olympian Deena Kastor, and Rio Olympian Alexi Pappas are some of the elite runners with the Mammoth Track Club.

Summer months, after the snow has melted, are perfect for trail running with crisp mornings and warm days. Kaylor lists Duck Pass, Mammoth Rock Trail and Inyo Craters Loop as some of the top trails for runners.

The Mammoth Half Marathon on Sunday, June 17, 2018, offers breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada range and the mountain lakes, while descending from 9,000 feet into the town of Mammoth Lakes at 7,800 feet.

“The Mammoth Half Marathon & 5K was born out of a love for the Mammoth Lakes area and a desire to give back to the community,” said Rachel Cross, Marketing Director for the race. “We hope that more people take advantage of all the amazing activities and scenery the Sierras have to offer in the summer, including our race.”

Another local run is the Tioga Pass Run on Sunday, September 9, 2018. “The Tioga Pass Run is a homegrown event that began with a few crazy locals who decided they wanted to run the 3,165 feet of elevation gain over 12.4 miles from our small town in Lee Vining, CA to the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park, at 9,941 feet above sea level,” said Jessica Horn, office director for the Mono Lake Committee. “The remarkable views along the road are beyond stunning, and almost make you forget the pain of the run.”

All proceeds from the run benefit the Mono Lake Committee, a non-profit group devoted to protection, restoration and education of Mono Lake and the surrounding area.

Road cycling and mountain biking are also popular activities in the area. The Mammoth Gran Fondo on Saturday, September 8, 2018 draws more than 1,500 participants for its 102-mile, 70-mile and 42-mile routes. Participants 18 and under can ride the Gran Fondo for free.

“The Mammoth Gran Fondo is one of the best fondos in the nation,” said Caroline Casey, Event Production Manager for the Fondo. “With 75 miles of the 102 closed to traffic, you can’t beat the ride experience coupled with the incredible scenery of the Eastern Sierra.”

Also included in the entry fee and experience are a bacon buffet, tech shirt, signature event socks, post ride party with BBQ, complimentary Sierra Nevada beer, and on course support by VeloFix.

If you want to get off the road, the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park boasts 80 miles of single track on over 3,500 acres of terrain for all levels of riders. Rentals, clinics, lessons, and a lift and shuttle service are all offered at the park after the snow melts.

According to Kaylor, some of the top trails outside the Park for mountain bikers include Lower Rock Creek, Mammoth Rock Trail, Uptown/Downtown and Shady Rest.

The Kamikaze Mountain Bike Trail on Mammoth Mountain spans from the peak of the mountain (11,053 feet above sea level) weaving through the backside of the mountain and finishes at the lodge.  On April 28, 2018, the Ezakimak Challenge (Kamikaze spelled backwards) takes place and participants have to snowshoe, run, cross country ski or ride a fat bike up the Kamikaze Trail to the top for the Sunset Summit Party.

In the winter months, Mammoth Mountain gets an average of 400 inches of snowfall while still averaging 300 days of sunshine. The ski resort has more than 3,500 skiable acres on 3,100 vertical feet, and is serviced by 28 chairlifts, including nine high-speed quads, two high-speed six packs, and three gondolas.

Additionally, several outfits offer cross-country and snowshoe tours on 19 miles of terrain around the mountain.

For the kids, Woolly’s Tube Park and Snow Play area is a great way to let the little ones burn off energy in the outdoors.

After a long day of playing in the mountains, whether in the snow or on the trails, there plenty of places to satiate an appetite. From sushi to Italian to Bavarian food and basic pub food, the Mammoth area will satisfy all tastebuds.

There are several lodging options around Mammoth, including The Village Lodge, Juniper Springs, Mammoth Mountain Inn and others. Inns, bed and breakfasts, and summer camping are also viable options.

“The variety of outdoor activities and the amazing scenic beauty that surrounds you makes Mammoth an appealing destination for active folks,” said Kaylor. “Adventure is limitless in our area and there is literally something for everyone.”