The descent down to Starkweather Lake is one of the best sections of singletrack in the area. Its 2.5 miles of rollercoaster trail bliss. The climb back up is grueling and unrelenting, but we feel its worth earning your turns for this one. Theres only one catch this trail is closed to bicycles most of the year. You can usually only ride for a portion of May or June and September October. If the shuttle bus is running to Reds Meadow, its closed to bikes. This means its usually only legal once the snow melts in May or June, before the shuttle starts running for the summer or after Labor Day when the shuttle shuts down at the end of Summer. It changes from year to year, so make sure youre not poaching before you jump on this trail.
Directions are not really necessary here as there are no trail intersections. Just take Starkweather Trail all the way down to the lake. There are a few small creek crossings, switchbacks, and a couple mildly technical sections to keep your speed in check. The dirt is mostly packed with some looser pumice spots sprinkled around. For some reason, most people ride the road to get back up. I guess the climb up the trail can be intimidating, but honestly its not that bad. At least as not as bad as climbing San Joaquin Ridge Trail
(also known as Hard Core Trail). We prefer to stay on dirt when possible, so back up the trail is the way to go!!
Getting to the trailhead: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Continue past Main Lodge and go all the way up to the turnoff for Minaret Vista (just before the Forest Service kiosk to go down to Reds Meadow). Make a right for Minaret Vista, and then another quick right and park in the dirt lot. Ride back to Highway 203 and cross the road at Forest Service kiosk. The trailhead is right next to the kiosk, and youll see the sign a few feet up the hill (see photo).