Distance: 27-mile out and back
Elevation gain: 930 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.
Every ride doesn’t have to be exhilarating. Sometimes it’s a beautiful thing to just go roll a lovely road and see some pretty sights.
Such is the Twin Lakes Road ride out of Bridgeport. It’s dead easy—maybe the easiest ride in Bestrides (check that elevation total). It has no thrilling descents or challenging climbs and no bucket-list features. Still, it’s perfect—a few miles of flats through fields of picturesque cows, some easy climbing to open up the legs, a stroll along the shore of two lovely lakes, and some genteel 25-30-mph descending on the return, all on a manicured two-lane road with flawless pavement and with striking eastern Sierra ridges as backdrop. It’s the perfect recovery-day ride or ride to do with your less gung-ho buddy or partner. It’s also one of only four rides I know along the Hwy 395 corridor that don’t have a ton of vertical (it, South Round Valley Road, Tuttle Creek Road, and the June Lakes loop).
There is another selling point for this ride. If you travel Hwy 395, eventually you’ll end up staying in Bridgeport, because it’s the only real town you pass through between Bishop and Carson City (or Tahoe, depending on which way you’re going). When you’re there, you’re going to want to ride. This ride is it.
This ride has absolutely no shade until you reach the lakes, and very little thereafter, so I wouldn’t do it on a sweltering day.
The lakes are a popular recreation area, and Twin Lakes Road has several campgrounds along it, so traffic could theoretically be a problem, though it’s a wide two-lane road with effortless passing everywhere. I rode it at the end of September on a Saturday afternoon and saw very few cars, but it was off-season.
Start in downtown Bridgeport, a small town of considerable charm and hipness with lots of character-rich, inexpensive lodging—a perfect one-night stopover. Check out the bakery if you’re there between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when it’s open. Ride Twin Lakes Road to its end, then return.
The road begins with 4 miles of dead flat, dead straight riding through fields sprinkled with cattle. In the background is a striking, jagged ridgeline between two closer rounded hills. You’ll have that ridgeline in front of you for the entire ride out. If flat isn’t your thing you have my permission to drive the 4 miles, to a 90-degree right turn and a good gravel parking area at the entrance to the Circle H Guest Ranch, AKA Hunewill Ranch (clearly signed both ways). After that corner, the road is almost continuously up, but either so gradually you don’t notice or at a mild pitch you can easily spin without effort. The road begins to meander and pitch a little, just enough to give it some character, and the Sierra ridgeline continues to loom larger.
In these first miles you’ll probably see colorful groups of cowgirls on horseback. Give them a wide berth—many horse are terrified of bikes, to the point of becoming uncontrollable.
In exactly 10 miles you round a corner and the lake appears. Drink in the view—it’s the prettiest view of the lakes you’ll get, though views of the lakes will be constant. Soon you pass a typical little California mountain resort—cabins, deli, etc.—and you’ll worry that the entire lakefront is built up, but it’s surprisingly undeveloped, with only a spot or two of habitation, until you reach the end of the pavement at Mono Village, a large RV resort at the far end of Upper Twin, in 3+ miles. All lovely, untroubled riding with the water almost continuously at your elbow. There are two lakes, Lower Twin and Upper Twin, with a kind of dam between them, but unless you have a sharp eye you won’t see it and it will seem like one very long lake.
Ride home. The mild uphills on the ride out turn out to be surprisingly brisk descents on the return, but in keeping with the spirit of the ride it’s all effortless grace and you’re back to your car before you know it, or at least back to those 4 miles of flat I told you you could skip.
Shortening the route: Start at Hunewill Ranch and/or turn around when you reach the lake.
Adding miles: There’s nothing good that I know of in the immediate area. See the general discussion of the Hwy 395 corridor (“Eastern Sierra”) in the Bestrides By Regions page for more rides to the south.