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White Mountain Peak MTB — Route Summary

Last updated 2011-08-06 - Send Feedback
Related: Hard Core, mountain biking, Rides

White Mountain Peak is one of the few high summits in the United States which can be ascended by bicycle, though some footwork may be required at times.

Total climbing is just short of 15,000 vertical feet, but it’s much harder than on a road-bike on paved roads, due to loose rocks in places, and “washboard” surfaces and extreme altitude.

Pictures shown have been taken on a variety of days, not just the event day.


The route starts at the Owens River on Hwy 6 at elevation 4070', not far from the Laws Railroad museum. The pavement ends and the dirt road begins about 1/4 mile past the museum.

Leg 1 — Owens River to summit of Silver Canyon, ~11.5 miles, ~6400' gain

This is one tough climb to an elevation of about 10,500' with grades in the top section approaching 30% in places, with extended stretches in the 15-20% range. Some very steep portions require walking due to the loose material and very steep grades.

Since we camped in Silver Canyon about 1400 feet above the Owens River, we began the ride by descending to the Owens River, then summitting, then returning down to our campsite.

About 2/3 of the way up Silver Canyon — Bishop, CA is behind the hill at center

Leg 2 — Silver Canyon to Patriarch Grove, ~9 miles, ~1250' gain

Approximately 12 miles, this up and down section follows the gorgeous ridgeline of the White Mountains with ancient bristlecone pines lining some sections.

Elevation upon reaching Patriarch Grove is about 11,200 feet, and here the route begins to steepen, and the altitude starts becoming a major factor.

Ancient bristlecone pine at dusk, Patriarch Grove

Leg 3 — Patriarch Grove to locked gate, ~5.5 miles, ~1400' gain

Approximately 12 miles, this up and down section follows the gorgeous ridgeline of the White Mountains with ancient bristlecone pines lining some sections.

The moonscape about 1/3 of the way from Patriarch Grove to the Barcroft research station, mile ~21

Leg 4 —Locked gate to summit, about ~7.3 miles, ~3000' gain

The final push. Watch carefully for lightning as clouds can build up by mid afternoon.

Just past the locked gate and prior to Barcroft near White Mountain Peak
Photo by Geoffrey Faraghan

Leg 5 — the return

Reversing the journey is no cakewalk; the middle section of Leg 2 has a ~800 vertical foot dip in it that requires more climbing. Be sure to hydrate and fuel near Barcroft to allow some recovery as you make your way back.

Descending the short paved section near Patriarch Grove

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