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Mono Basin Hikes and Bike Rides
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Hiking and Biking
Experiencing the Trails of the Eastern Sierra

 

HIKES

Lee Vining Creek Trail - Easy in difficulty. Trailhead elevation 6780". 1.5 miles each way. Take a respite from the road and heat by discovering Lee Vining Creek. The trail begins south of the Lakeview Lodge units on the east side of Highway 395 in Lee Vining. Follow the trail below the wall and down into the shady streamside area. Experience the difference between a healthy riparian forest and a riparian area devastated by 45 years of water diversions. A leisurely walk on the creek trail takes an hour, or less if you walk only a portion of the trail. The trail ends at the Scenic Area Visitor Center overlooking Mono Lake, north of Lee Vining.

Lundy Canyon -- Easy to moderate in difficulty. Trailhead elevation 8200'. 1/2 mile or longer. Drive past the lake and the store and take the dirt road beyond the beaver ponds to where it ends at a trailhead. Hike up the trail through the aspen groves, enjoy the abundant display of wildflowers, Photo of Mono Lake's shoreline by Inge Weidmannand revel in the beauty of the cliffs and waterfalls. The trail is steep in places. Wander as far as you wish and return the way you came, or shuttle a car to Saddlebag Lake for a more strenuous 7 mile hike.

Parker Lake/Parker Bench -- Moderate in difficulty. Trailhead elevation 8000'. 4-10 miles round trip. Turn from Hwy 395 onto the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158) at the north junction. After a mile and a half turn right onto a dirt road signed for Parker Lake. Follow the signs to the Parker Lake Trailhead. Hike past the first steep part to where the trail flattens out next to beautiful Parker Creek as it meanders through meadows and forests. At a junction signed for Silver Lake, continue straight ahead to Parker Lake for a 4 mile round trip, or turn left toward Silver Lake for an up-to-10-mile round trip to Parker Bench. After enjoying the view of Mono Lake, wander back the way you came, or shuttle a second car to Silver lake for a 7 mile hike.

Gibbs Lake/Kidney Lake -- Strenuous in difficulty. Trailhead elevation 8000' (Gibbs Lake 9530'). 6-9 miles round trip. On Hwy 395 south of Lee Vining, turn west onto a dirt road signed for Horse Meadows. Follow the road past the lush green meadows as far as you can, since most passenger cars will have to park about a mile from the trailhead. Walk up the road to the trailhead, and follow the incredibly steep old road through the forest. Keep an eye out for a trail on the right that bypasses a steep hill. At the end of the road follow the trail to Gibbs Lake. If you still have boundless energy and are feeling adventurous, wander past Gibbs Lake to KidneyLake, a mile farther and almost 1000 feet higher. Return the way you came.

Photo of Mono Lake in winter by Inge WeidmannROAD BIKE RIDES

Lee Vining Canyon -- Easy to moderate in difficulty. Below 7800' elevation. 6-24 miles round trip. This one is a mixture of on and off road, with parts of it suitable for either road bikes or mountain bikes. Ride up Hwy 120 west from Lee Vining, and turn left onto a side road at Cattleguard Campground. Start here if you want to avoid highway traffic. Ride up the paved road along the bottom of Lee Vining Canyon, and enjoy views of the occasional waterfalls along Lee Vining Creek. If you wish, continue past the point where the roadbecomes dirt, and you'll soon arrive at the Poole Hydroelectric Plant, wherethe road ends. Enjoy the ride back down.

Twin Lakes -- Moderate in difficulty. Below 7500' elevation. 25-30 miles round trip. From Bridgeport, 25 miles north of Lee Vining, take County Road 420 signed for Twin Lakes as it winds through the Bridgeport Valley. You'll reach Twin Lakes in about 12 miles.

Tioga Pass -- Strenuous in difficulty. Pass is almost 10,000' elevation. 25-40 miles round trip. Ride up Hwy 120 west from Lee Vining 12 miles to the entrance of Yosemite National Park at Tioga Pass. Road is narrow and steep, watch for rocks on the road and traffic. Pay the entrance fee and ride another 7 miles downhill to Tuolumne Meadows, if you don't mind riding back uphill. Coming back down to Lee Vining is a blast - wear your helmet!

MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDES

Horse Meadows/Bohler Canyon -- Moderate to strenuous in difficulty. Below 8000' elevation. 11.3 miles round trip. Pick up a "Mountain Bike Trails" handout at the Scenic Area Visitor Center, which describes the "Moraines and Meadows" route in detail.

Hartley Springs -- Moderate to strenuous in difficulty. Below 9000' elevation. 9.1 miles round trip. Pick up a "Mountain Bike Trails" handout at the Scenic Area Visitor Center, which describes the route in detail.

Aeolian Buttes -- Moderate in difficulty. 7000'-8000' elevation. 11 miles round trip. Pick up a "Mountain Bike Trails" handout at the Scenic Area Visitor Center, which describes the "Panorama" route in detail.

Bodie -- Moderate to strenuous in difficulty. Below 8300' elevation. 22 miles round trip. There are numerous dirt roads on which to ride in the Bodie Hills near Bodie State Historic Park. One of these is the Cottonwood Canyon Road, which leaves Hwy 167 about 7 miles east of Hwy 395. Follow it 11 miles until you reach Bodie State Park. Return the way you came.

 

 
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An Essay on Self-Discovery by Genny Smith

 

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