Mammoth Mountain Bike Park – Something for Everyone


Last year was the first time I got to ride the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, and if you read the review, you might have gotten the impression that Mammoth is more heavily geared towards big-hit bikes and experienced riders. With fast, fun technical and feature-rich double black diamond trails like Twilight Zone, Bullet and Techno Rock, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has more than enough terrain to push the skills and huevos of even the biggest screwball daredevil.  Mammoth also features flowing, fast and hardtail-friendly cross-country trails like Paper Route, Juniper and Beach Cruiser for those who prefer to earn their descents.

But in addition to attracting loco downhillers and scary fit cross-country riders, a successful mountain bike park must also cater to the future of the sport; kids and beginning adults. By making easily accessible, safe and fun trails focused on building skills, kids and beginning adults become better riders while having a ton of fun, effectively growing the popularity and success of mountain biking as a national pastime.

This all-inclusive trail-building strategy is a central focus of Mammoth Mountain Bike Park supervisor, Mark Hendrickson. Two winters ago, Mammoth had a biblical amount of snowfall, delaying the park opening until late July. But this past winter was exceptionally dry, giving Hendrickson and his crew a huge head start in preparing new trails for the season.

Previously, Downtown trail was the main featured beginner trail. A fun, gently winding trail boasting banked corners with pavers, Downtown trail drops approximately four miles downhill through a lush pine forest from the ski resort to the main village. Downtown trail is a perfect connector that can either start or end your ride, but for true beginners, Downtown trail poses a slight issue.

“In order for beginners to really learn, they need skills repetition on the same obstacles and corners,” said Hendrickson. “Downtown is a great trail, but it’s too long for kids and beginners to build that strong base of riding skill.”

So Hendrickson and his crew focused their efforts on a network of three new green circle downhill trails easily accessible from the Discovery chairlift across from the gondola. Explorer, Adventure and Discovery trails all feature a wide, smooth track with perfectly shaped banked corners made with concrete pavers.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • brian t says:

    I love Mammoth, spent last weekend there grinning ear to ear. My only complaint is their new RF card system for lift/shuttle access. It’s a great idea, just poorly executed; a loose card is too easy to lose. If you have it secured in your bag, the reader won’t find it so you have to dig it out, and if you don’t have zippered pockets in your shorts, good chance of it falling out. It’s not a deal breaker, just needs some refining. They need to have a hole punched for a zip tie or some other method of fastening it to yourself/bike.

  • Scott says:

    I live less than an hour from Mammoth but I refuse to pay $15 a day to ride cross country trails ($30 for both my wife and I). Instead I spend the $30 towards gas and ride in Tahoe, I’m not sure how the trails compare between the two, but I’ll continue giving my incidental money to Tahoe (food, lodging, bike parts, etc!). Mammoth needs to learn from Bend, Park City, Tahoe, Brian Head and almost every other mountain bike mecca, and allow XC riders to ride for free. I do realize that this is California and ALMOST EVERYTHING costs around here, but I’ll NEVER pay to ride XC trails.

    • Shawn says:

      Scott, in a way, I do agree with you. I ride at Northstar (love the Thursday Night XC MTB Series), and appreciate the free trail use. Makes the downhill parts earned and so much more fun. I was just in Mammoth, and agree that it would be great if they didn’t charge for non-lift riding. My thoughts are that the trail system at Mammoth is more extensive than Northstar (sorry, I don’t ride many of the other trails to give a fair comparison), and requires more upkeep, for now. Northstar is gaining on the techy aspects, and that upkeep may require non-lift charges in the near future to keep the trails in good shape. I’ll still ride both, charge or no charge…..

  • Eunerd says:

    Scott, I believe that the forest service allows the ski area to operate by permit and, as such (you might want to check with a lawyer), is Inyo National Forest Land. So, they can charge you to use their lift, but I don’t think they can tell you to get off of your very own dirt, even if it is a groomed trail.

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