Distance: 32.4-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 1960 ft
As with all the rides in Bestrides situated along Hwy 395, I encourage you to read the “Eastern Sierra” section of our By Regions page, to put this ride in context.
This is the go-to easy, pretty ride on the eastern side of the Sierra—the one you take your partner or casual-cyclist buddy on. It’s also where you go in the Eastern Sierra for lush—If you find most of the riding in the area too open, rocky, and desert-y for you, this is your ride. It goes through very pretty aspen-filled woods, past three lakes and one unforgettable boulder, and through the town of June Lake, a bustling recreational village (think Mammoth Lakes but much smaller and less pretentious). The route is pretty built-up, but in an unobtrusive, one-with-nature sort of way. It’s a “loop” in quotation marks because the road is called “June Lake Loop” in all the literature, but it isn’t one—it’s a horseshoe. More on that in the ride directions.
The elevation gain is mild, but if you like to do your climbing first, then your descending, start at the northern terminus and ride south. On the other hand, the ride as mapped begins with the best scenery and steadily gets worse, so if you think you aren’t going to do the entire mileage, start at the south end. The riding is A-level up to about Reverse Creek, then B up to the end of Silver Lake, then C to the terminus on 395.
Start at the intersection of June Lake Loop and Hwy 395. There’s a large store there with parking, and a large, expensive sign reading “Welcome to June Lake Loop” telling you they want your tourist dollars.
Ride June Lake Loop to its end at Hwy 395. The only significant pitch is the initial drop down to June Lake. Linger over the views of June Lake, because it’s the prettiest lake of the three on the route—Silver Lake is just nice and Grant Lake is barren.
Watch for a remarkable double boulder on your R. It’s so striking that both resorts on either side of it take their names from it: Boulder Lodge on one side and Big Rock Resort on the other.
June Lake, the community, is well worth a stroll.
Midway in the ride you cross Reverse Creek, so named because it’s flowing in the opposite direction from most of the watershed in the area. Not a big deal.
By Silver Lake you’re beginning to leave the woods behind, and the terrain becomes flatter, drier, and more barren. The last few miles are dead straight, through nearly flat, typical Eastern Sierra rabbit brush country. You can skip those miles if you want, but the distance is short.
To ride this route as an actual loop, at 395 you would turn R and ride 395 back to your car. If you do this, you will have an long, unpleasant, tedious slog of a climb up the highway shoulder with little to look at among busy traffic. I strongly discourage it. Instead, turn around and ride back the way you came.
When you get close to June Lake, you can see new country by taking Northshore Drive to your L and going around the back side of the lake. The road is a bit rougher than the main road and the landscape more harsh (there are signs reading “bike route” and “rough road”), but it’s also much less built-up and less trafficked. I’ve mapped it that way.
Shortening the ride: Turn around when you want to.
Adding miles: There is no other good riding in the immediate area. You’re a few highway miles from Mammoth Lakes and our Devil’s Postpile ride.