Mammoth Mountain is one of the oldest mountain biking destinations in the nation. The original Marin County fat tire innovators conducted some of the early races on this precipitous ski hill. The ski area developed the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, a full-service facility for recreational cyclists.
The Kamikaze is a meteoric plummet off the top of the mountain. It has been used as a downhill race course for mountain bikers with little fear since the early 1980s. But it's also a scenic and exhilarating brakes-on descent for the rest of us.
The Kamikaze is but one of many trails on the mountain and in the Mammoth Lakes area. You can pedal up the hill or purchase a lift to the top on the gondola, for you and your bike. The mountain bike park is open for biking from July 1 until the end of October.
Route location: Near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., 175 miles east of San Francisco and due southeast of Yosemite National Park.
Surface: Loose and sometimes sandy ski area service roads and single-track trails.
Distance: 3.2 miles downhill.
Ride time: Allow an hour for the gondola ride up and the coast down.
Guided tours/lodging: Mammoth Adventure Connection/Mammoth Mountain Inn, Box 353, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546. (800) 228-4947.
To reach Mammoth Mountain: Take U.S. 6 or U.S. 395 to Bishop, Calif., and take U.S. 395 north to Mammoth Lakes.