It was the lightest snowfall on record, sorry skiers. But if you didn't make it up to Mammoth over the winter, don't worry, there's plenty of fun to be had in the summertime, too. So if you're up for a six-coffee road trip from L.A. (there is an airport, so if you've got your own private plane...), here's a few tips to enhance a mountain getaway.
Choose your accommodations wisely
If you're up for an authentic Mammoth experience, consider renting a cabin near a lake. If, however, you're looking for more of a hotel-quality experience, your best bet is to choose a location in the heart of town, between Old Mammoth and Minaret roads. I spent four peaceful days and nights at the historic Sierra Nevada Resort, on Old Mammoth, a couple of blocks from Main Street.
Stories abound about the movie stars and music legends who've partied at the resort. Namedrop? Sure -- John Wayne, Paul McCartney, need I say more? The lobby features a brick-and-rock fireplace surrounded by sofas, and only steps away from a fully-stocked bar. This is where you'll probably find yourself after a day of adventure. Oh, and the joint is dog-friendly, so bring your favorite pal.
Mountain biking is a popular pastime and Mammoth offers some of the best trails anywhere. A trolley will even pick you up and haul your wheels up to the lakes. But if you're more interested in touring around, rent a Pedego electric bike by the hour or for the day and spare yourself the exhaustion of cycling up these steep slopes. Even better, you will be able to get farther and see more. You can cruise at 20 mph (45 downhill, woo hoo!) and pretty close to that going up an imposing incline, passing gassed cyclists who didn't take into account the lack of oxygen at over 8,000 feet above sea level.
Everyone in town seems to have a tip on the best hiking trails in the area, but here's the scoop on a couple of my favorites. First is Convict Lake (friendly-sounding, right?), which is about a 10-minute drive from town. It's stocked weekly with trout and is a popular fishing hole. A three-mile trail circles the water, and is a fine route for a small dog.
I also like Lake Mary, where I rode my electric bike up to for a scenic picnic. This lake is ideal for a pontoon, which can be rented, along with kayaks, motorboats and paddleboats. There are several beautiful lakes nearby -- Horseshoe, George, Twin Lakes, etc. -- and pristine forests to explore.
You get winded climbing a flight of stairs at this altitude, so you're going to want some liquid energy each morning. The best cup of joe in town is Black Velvet Coffee. If you like Intelligentsia, Caffe Luxxe, Urth Caffe and other such places where baristas draw artistic shapes in the foam, you'll feel right at home.
One word: Petra's. A pair of brothers, Mammoth natives, run this wine-and-dine establishment named for their mother. Other than the fireplace, the joint feels like something you'd find on Melrose or Abbot Kinney. Chef Radisson Williams' menu is updated daily with local, seasonal produce; the wine list is extensive and well-curated; the cocktails are superb; and the ambience is, in a word, romantic.
Here's a taste: pan-seared duck breast in a blackberry demi, with heirloom wild rice, braised mustard greens and Tuscan Kale. Or how about a citrus-brined pork chop in a peach bourbon gastrique, with smoked paprika spätzle and haricot vert. Delish.
So, there you go. Have fun this summer at Mammoth!