MAMMOTH LAKES TRAIL SYSTEM 2018-10-01T00:31:55+00:00

The Mammoth Lakes Trail System offers boundless recreation opportunities on more than 300 miles of trails. From granite crags to trout-stocked lakes, pine forests to alpine meadows, there’s something for all seasons, interests and abilities, motorized and non-motorized alike. Managed jointly by the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Inyo National Forest, the system includes connections to three wilderness areas, Devils Postpile National Monument, the Pacific Crest Trail and more. Many of these attractions are accessible right from the center of town! Explore and discover the adventures of a lifetime.

Partners and Project Leads
Inyo National Forest, Mammoth Lakes Recreation (MLR), Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA), Friends of the Inyo

The final Town of Mammoth Lakes Trail System Master Plan (TSMP) was adopted on October 11, 2011. The TSMP included the Sherwins Area Recreation Plan (SHARP) and a programmatic CEQA analysis, provided recommendations for the addition of new trails, paved pathways, signage and wayfinding, and associated amenities. TSMP also included suggestions for other infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes, bicycle parking, and summer and winter trail maintenance.
The Trail System Master Plan and EIR were recommended for adoption by the Planning Commission on September 28, 2011, and adopted by the Town Council on October 11, 2011. Minor revisions were suggested by the Town Council – these are included in the Final Trail System Master Plan.

Current Status

  • The Cost-Share Agreement between the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Forest Service has made way for the Trails Coordinator to begin implementing a trails maintenance program. Several trails will be worked on between May and the first snow fall (most likely beginning of November).
  • The Inyo National Forest Service is currently in the process of a Forest Plan Revision, which has put the Over-snow vehicle project (OSV) on hold.
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin (LABSS) and Sherwin Area Recreation Plan (SHARP) are two specific areas where work is underway to implement projects. Through the Mammoth Trails Committee, additional projects in these areas will continue to be identified and proposed for future implementation. These two areas are important elements for establishing MLTS connectivity (between the UGB and the Town Boundary), experiences, and as visitation to these areas continues to grow there is a need to establish sustainable activities and experiences to preserve and protect the natural resource.
  • Additional partners in this work are the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation, Friends of the Inyo, local and regional mountain bike clubs, snowmobile groups, motorcycle and 4WD clubs, Nordic clubs, ESIA, and other organized user groups.

Vision for the System
As cited by the TSMP: “an integrated system of infrastructure and programs that support recreation and mobility simultaneously, by seamlessly connecting homes, hotels, businesses, recreation nodes and backcountry experiences.” A Trails Coordinator was recently employed as a jointly funded position to serve in the capacity as the intermediary between the TOML and the Inyo National Forest System to begin implementing projects from the TSMP.

Location & Partnership/Agency Options
Three defining land-use boundaries cited from the Town’s 2007 General Plan are used in the TSMP – the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), the Town Boundary and the Planning Area. The key element of the proposed Mammoth Lakes Trails System (MLTS) is the vision it created for integrating the human and natural environments across these three land-use boundaries. Per the TSMP, the idea of “trails and public access” as it applies to the MLTS is comprised of the following three key elements:

  • A system of sidewalks, on-street bicycle facilities and paved trails within the UGB forms the nucleus of the MLTS. This trails network within the UGB includes very limited soft-surface trails.
  • A system of soft-surface summer and winter trails and backcountry recreational opportunities outside the UGB but within the Town boundary. The area within the Town Boundary includes the Sherwins Area, the Lakes Basin, Shady Rest and most of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. The majority of the land in this area is administered by the U.S. Forest Service/Inyo National Forest
  • The Planning Area (sphere of influence) covers approximately 125 sq. miles and includes destinations such as Reds Meadow, Devils Postpile National Monument, the John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. Mammoth Lakes serves as a key point of access and egress for users of these amenities.
  • NOTE: many areas of the MLTS are also part of a larger trails system managed by the Inyo National Forest and as such, there are mechanisms such as MOU’s and Special use Permits to execute with the federal agency in order to coordinate efforts related to the MLTS.

Cost Estimates & Case Studies
The Town Council has authorized $300,000 from Measure R per year, through FY 2016-17 for the Mammoth Lakes Trails System. The FY 2015-16 budget was approximately $560,000, which was used for a number of identified trails related projects, including a Cost-Share Agreement with the Forest Service for trails maintenance on approximately 30 miles of trails within the Town boundary.
A database is being developed that is inclusive of all trails related projects and will provide MLR with the opportunity to create a long-term budget that will be used by the Mammoth Trails Committee (MTC) to develop a prioritized action plan and budget for the implementation of projects from the Trails System master Plan.

Funding Scenarios
TOML, Measure R, USFS, MLTPA, FOI, Partnerships and Agencies