(58)Eastern California

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Mono County, California

Highway 158
June Lake Loop

RIDE IT on a PASHNIT TOUR

16 Miles - Length
Mono - COUNTY

Two lane highway, portions closed in winter - PAVEMENT
Smooth s-curves - CURVES

June Lake Junction - GAS

CLICK FOR MORE INFO

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Quick Ride: Relaxed 16-mile loop into mountain canyon off Highway 395

Switzerland of California

Tired of the phrase, must ride, must do, can't miss, and other assorted accoutrements? Does it seem like the more these phrases are used, the less value they hold? The goal of course is to encourage you, prod you, even goad you into riding a particular region and adding an easily missed detour to your ride day. After publishing over 300 articles, the vast majority of my text likely includes one of those phrases.

All that being said, here is one more to add to your list. The June Lake Loop is exactly what it sounds like, a loop road off Highway 395 circling around June Lake and a 10,000 ft mountain known as Reversed Peak. As far as scenic roads go, this one has that in spades. Not a fast road, it won’t get you there any faster. Possibly laden with tourist traffic, it’s still worth it to always include this out-n-back loop off Highway 395 into your ride day. Note the elevation along most of this route hovers around 7600 ft.

You can find the north end of the June Lake Loop a few miles south of Lee Vining & Highway 120 Tioga Pass. The north entrance is also a few feet away from Highway 120 East across the bottom of Mono Lake to Benton. Add Benton Crossing Rd and you have the perfect loop.

 

Which if you picked up on that, you have a complete 360-degree circular loop bisected by Highway 395 when you combine Highway 120 East with Benton Crossing Rd and the June Lake Loop, something the bicyclists love also. June Lake Loop is short at a quick 16-miles out and back to Highway 395. (Whereas the Benton Crossing loop is 68 miles.)

Uniquely positioned, The June Lake Loop is found in the center region of Highway 120 Tioga Pass to the north, Mono Lake Basin to the east, Mammoth Mountain to the south, and Yosemite National Park wilderness mountain regions bordering to the due west along with the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area.

View from beginning of north leg

The northern leg was built in 1915 to reach Silver Lake for the building of a hydroelectric dam on Rush Creek. In present day, a hydroelectric substation still operates at the far southeast corner of this ride. By 1927, enough people lived along June Lake to start postal services after the southern leg was completed in 1924.

June Mountain is a ski hill created in the 1940s. Humble beginnings in the 1940s offered only a 2200-ft long tow rope near Oh Ridge for $1. By 1940, local businessmen began to envision a ski hill and the first chair lift was built powered by a small hydro-electric plant off Fern Creek. Electricity didn’t even come to the area until 1946. June Mountain Ski Hill opened in 1961 but has a much smaller feel than nearby Mammoth Mountain 14 miles the south.

Mammoth is like Disneyland for adults while June Lake feels much more laid back and smaller, quaint even. Worth mentioning that Mammoth purchased June Mountain Ski Hill in 1986 and also owns Big Bear and Snow Summit Resorts in Southern California.

In present day, June Mountain ski area is 1500 acres and 41 runs down the mountain and split into two mountains, June Mountain at 10,174 ft and Rainbow Mountain at 10,040 ft. The 2006 California Winter Games were held here and the longest runs extend to 2-miles.

From the motorcyclist’s perspective, June Lake is quiet during the off-season, cozy, and small. A relaxed hand-on-hip ride with no big chain hotels or fast-food joints. There are no big box stores here, no expansive commercial business parks and a smattering of vacation homes.

Looking back northeast towards Mono Lake

While Mammoth Lake pulled most of the commercial activities to the south, the irony of this change is it left only the good in June Lake giving it a relaxed and quaint feel. If you want busy and commercial, head for Mammoth Lakes. If you want a more relaxed laid-back experience, head for June Lake.

 

The scenery throughout this 16-mile loop is stunning riding into a horseshoe-shaped mountain valley and looping around four crystal clear lakes of Grant, Silver, Gull and June often riding right along the very edge of the water in several places. Four more lakes can also be reached along this ride via short hikes to Parker, Fern, Agnew and Gem Lakes. Not a place to go fast, lean it deeper, or be in a hurry, the June Lake Loop is for riders who want to add mileage to their journey rather than cut the journey shorter.

Riding along the edge of Grant Lake

The June Lake Loop, aka Highway 158, is well marked off Highway 395 (4-lane highway here) 4.5 miles south of Lee Vining. Terrain is high desert and it’s worth mentioning the nearby Mono Lake Basin at 6500 feet, literally a bowl that all mountain runoff collects into with no natural outlet. Mono Lake is easily reached via Highway 120 East where you can ride directly to the lakeshore via a gravel road. Along the June Lake Loop there will be plenty of snow in winter. How much snow often depends on the winter we’re having and the northern leg of this loop may not be plowed in winter. However, I’ve ridden this in March during dry years and there’s been very little snow, while the next season there could be the complete opposite. Despite my dry ride in March a few years back, the eastern Sierra averages 200-300” of snow each season.

Grant Lake is the largest of four lakes along this ride at 1100 acres

Riding this loop counter-clockwise (north to south), and pulling away from Highway 395 on the northern leg of the loop, the Cain Ranch is immediately visible along Highway 395 and Highway 158. This property is owned by the City of Los Angeles. For the last 15 plus years, students from inner city Los Angeles as well as the Eastern Sierra use the 2-bedroom home and property as an educational outreach program. It's said some of these kids have never seen stars before.

Terrain here is still high desert sagebrush scrub along with lots of dirt. What is somewhat surprising is the lack of private development, there are no private homes or grid pattern subdivisions. No telephone poles either alongside the road, only wide-open spaces and that mountain in front of you looming ever larger. Road surface is two-lane main highway, the dirt road you pass by at the first grouping of buildings is the original state highway, mere single lane dirt. Nearby Mount Wood looms above to a 12647 ft peak.

Terrain here is still high desert sagebrush scrub along with lots of dirt. What is somewhat surprising is the lack of private development, there are no private homes or grid pattern subdivisions. No telephone poles either alongside the road, only wide-open spaces and that mountain in front of you looming ever larger. Road surface is two-lane main highway, the dirt road you pass by at the first grouping of buildings is the original state highway, mere single lane dirt. Nearby Mount Wood looms above to a 12647 ft peak.

Parker Lake

As Highway 158 banks left towards Grant Lake, there is a gravel road 1.4 miles from Highway 395 that Y’s straight off into the sagebrush. Parker Lake Rd is a 2.5-mile-long dirt road to the Parker Lake Trailhead. No, you can’t ride all the way to the lake although there is a second spur 1.3 miles from Highway 158 known as Parker Bench Rd off Parker Lake Rd that gets a bit closer to the lake and flows along a long narrow lateral moraine known as the Parker Bench. From the Parker Lake Trailhead, it’s dismounting, throwing on some hiking boots and headed up a singletrack hiking trail along Parker Creek for 1.6 miles to nearby Parker Lake. The hike is 3.8-miles round trip with a short incline of 400 feet in elevation for the first mile at the beginning. Views to the east include Mono Lake and Mono Craters on the east side of Highway 395.

 

Parker Lake at 8309 ft is one of the most scenic, unknown and easily missed mountain lakes in the Sierra Nevada Range. Found in a small canyon overlooked by 12,000 ft peaks and with no paved roads to the lake, that means no motor boats, homes, development or much of anything else. Surrounded on three sides by mountain peaks of 12,861 ft Parker Peak and 12,647 ft Mount Wood, aspen groves ring the shores. The intense stillness of the water often produces a mirrored surface upon which the mountains leave their mirror image. Allow at least 2-3 hours for this out-and-back hike to Parker Lake.

Highway 158 flows into that canyon on the far side of Grant Lake

Grant Lake

Popping over a small saddle, Highway 158 descends to Grant Lake at the 7136 ft level which is the largest lake on the June Lake Loop at 1100 acres and three miles long. The man-made Grant Lake was created in 1916 as a link in the Los Angeles aqueduct system when Rush Creek was dammed and a reservoir created then stocked with rainbow and German brown trout. Additionally, nearby Parker, Walker, and Lee Vining creeks were re-routed to flow into Grant Lake to increase the inflow. Water from Grant Lake then flowed into the Los Angeles Aqueduct and an 11-mile tunnel was built under the Mono Craters range to reach Crowley Lake to the south. With the increased inflow from area creeks, the dam was expanded in 1941 to allow for increased water storage. A temporary company town was built near Grant Lake to house the workers on the aqueduct project but no longer remains.

The larger size allows it to be used for water sports without feeling crowded although being part of the water supply for Los Angeles also means the water levels can vary dramatically with the seasons due to variations in mountain runoff vs water needs. Rush Creek is also a primary supply of water into Mono Lake and the creek passes underneath Highway 395 mere yards from the junction with Highway 158.

Grant Lake Rd is 2-miles from Highway 395 and is a dirt road that circles around the east side of the lake. RVs drive down this road and park right along the shore. Anglers often position themselves along its 8-miles of shoreline and camping is available at the Marina Campground. The marina is located at the middle of the lake along Highway 158.

Reversed Peak

Highway 158 leaves Grant Lake behind and enters a short mountain canyon along Rush Creek with rock walls on either side. The sheer rock walks of the sides of Reversed Peak on the south side of the road are imposing and defy your sense of space pushing up 2000 feet, and remind me of Yosemite. Reversed Peak to the east of Highway 158 at 9473 ft is reachable via a 7-mile hike based from Northshore Rd. The summit offers 360-degree views of surround peaks and the Mono Lake Basin. Reversed Peak is thought to be the creator of this horseshoe shaped valley.

Granite walls 2000 feet high border this canyon portion  of Highway 158 - Aspens line both sides of the highway.

Rush Creek Glacier

 

Glacial ice once filled this entire canyon. During the Pleistocene Epoch estimated at two million to 10,000 years ago, the Rush Creek Glacier slowly ground its way along the Eastern Sierra, creating a crescent-shaped canyon we know today as the June Lake Loop. As the Rush Creek Glacier began to recede 10,000 year ago the glacier encountered Reversed Peak which split the glacial ice into two separate glacial flows out of the valley. These dueling glaciers carved out the two sides of this loop with Reversed Peak in the middle. A lateral moraine known as the Parker Bench resembling a long steady ridgeline, borders Highway 158 along the north leg which denotes the northern edge of the glacial flow. Parker Lake is on the flip side of the northern lateral moraine, and Oh Ridge (also written as Oh! Ridge) forms the southern terminal moraine that marks the maximum advance of the glacier, or foot of the glacier.

It’s here in this short canyon the true secret of the June Lake Loop is revealed. You would have no idea any of this is back here when viewed from Highway 395. If all you ever do is ride up and down Highway 395 wallowing in the scenic but boring straight highway that 395 offers, you’d have no idea what a scenic treasure the June Lake Loop offers. Elevation is still climbing and the sagebrush along Grant Lake is left behind and swapped for occasional Aspen tree groves while the canyon widens up to Mount Wood to the northeast, Reversed Peak to the east and all flowing to the picture-perfect Silver Lake.

Silver Lake

This lake at 7200 ft is small at 110 acres and bordered by campgrounds, horse corrals, and the Silver Lake Resort. The resort celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2016 and has been owned by the same family since 1977. People walking across the highway to the lake encourages slower speeds. A small parking area directly across from the resort offers a place to take a rest on your journey at the Silver Lake Boat Ramp. Park & walk out to a small pier out onto the water. One of the oldest resorts on this loop, Silver Lake Resort dates to 1916 and was originally known as Carson’s Camp.

 

One of the employees, Roy Carson, that helped to build the two nearby hydroelectric dams of Agnew and Gem lake fell in love with the area and stayed, opening Carson’s Camp in 1916. It operated as a tent camp until 1920. The first cabins were built, then another two followed in 1921. One was built large enough to have a dining hall and a small post office. The present-day general store and restaurant is that very same cabin built in 1921. Eventually the road to the power station was joined with the road to June Lake completing the loop that exists today.

Historic plaque reads: Carson's Camp, First private resort in the June Lake Loop, was established by Roy Carson in 1916. The initial camp was in a tent near "where fishing is always good". In 1919 his wife Nancy became camp cook and housekeeper. The first building oni this site, adjoining Alger Creek, was completed in 1920. The main building was finished in 1921. This same building now serves as the Silver Creek Store.

 

Rush Creek, the small creek you’ve been riding along for the last several miles that connects Silver and Grant Lake, veers away from Highway 158 and heads upstream into the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park Land. With a trailhead based at the resort, the Rush Creek Trail also connects with the Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail. Not into hiking? Base here for a horse or mule pack trip ranging from single to multiple days in the wilderness.

Silver Lake Resort is small, but known for a great breakfast. There is also a short L-shaped pier at Silver Lake located directly across from the Silver Lake General Store that has a stunning view of Carson Peak which on a still air day, can project (another) mirror image of the nearly 11,000 ft mountain on the surface of the water. Park at the General Store or in a small lakeshore parking area directly across from the General Store and simply walk out to the lake a few feet away. The short stop is worth it for a cold drink, some ice cream and absorbing the mountain scenery. Silver Lake is gorgeous and Highway 158 is paved right along the edge for a short distance.

Highway 158 along Silver Lake - Be sure to stop at the Silver Lake Resort and check out the aspen trees along the lake

White Bark
Quaking Aspen Trees

One-half-mile beyond the Silver Lake Resort is a paved parking area along the highway. Pull in here if you want to check out the aspen trees. These trees with their white bark and bright yellow leaves (in fall) provide another intensely picturesque scene along the lake. Short walking trails lead to the lake edge where the leaves often rustle in the winds coming over the range. It’s an easily missed spot to stop for a moment and say ‘serenity now’ a few times over, but this time truly experience what this Seinfeldian phrase means.

The white bark quaking aspen trees are common to the higher elevations in the Sierra Nevada range, often proliferating at the 7000-foot level. As you ride up and down the nearby mountain passes like Tioga, Sonora, Ebbetts and Monitor, these trees are found at the same elevation on all these mountain passes. The term 'quake' is interchangeable with 'trembling' and refers to the shape of the leaves which flutter, or tremble in even the slightest of wind emitting a calming rustling sound.

The 'quake' is due to flattened petioles which reduce drag on the branches enabling the tree to flourish in areas prone to high winds. The petiole, Latin for 'little foot', is the stalk portion of the leaf attaching the leaf to the branch. Being flat reduces drag and prevents the leaves from being ripped off the branches during high wind events that the mountain range can produce.

Aspens grow in clonal colonies or groves, and it's possible the entire aspen grove derives from a single seedling as the tree clones itself by root suckers. As the root systems spreads out from the mother aspen tree, the tree roots produce shoots which grow into new trees as far away as 130 feet from the original tree. Much like Redwoods, Aspen groves can be thought of as one giant living organism, while the vast majority of the life force of the tree is underground.

The aspen tree is specially adapted for mountain climates. While most coniferous trees lose their leaves and go dormant till spring, the aspen also loses its leaves in fall when they turn color, but does not go dormant and continues to grow in winter. The white bark of the aspen tree is photosynthetic, in effect it can breathe serving the same function as the aspen leaves do in summer. The bark can pull in carbon dioxide, and release oxygen. Lenticels are the dark horizontal lines on the bark. They function like a pore allowing gas exchange through the white bark. Aspens live 40-150 years, during that time they are continually cloning new trees in their colony. One aspen colony in Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park is estimated at 80,000 years old.

Aspen Trees at Sossa Cow Camp on nearby Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass

Silver Lake Meadow

 

Along the shore of Silver Lake, instead of finding a beach or rocky water’s edge, brilliant green subalpine meadows proliferate and thrive in the marshy soil vitalized by Rush Creek, the sort of thing you learned about in 5th grade Earth Science. Depending on the time of year of your visit, you may find marshy soil you can’t walk on, or in dry years, walking trails are pushed into Silver Meadow that border the lake. Vacation homes line the southeast edge of the lakeshore. If you want to park in Silver Meadow, you’ll need to access a dirt parking area via Silver Meadow Lane off of Nevada Street accessing the meadow at the Whispering Pines Motel.

During winter, this flat meadow is turned into the Silver Meadow cross country skiing track with a 1 ½ mile trail to ski. You can also rent many different vacation homes along the June Lake Loop, basing at Silver Meadow for day rides from June Lake. The Silver Lake Meadow is considered part of the Natural Habitat Protection District that prevents future development.

Rush Creek Substation & Agnew Lake

At the Southern California Edison power house alongside Silver lake Meadow, a railroad bed originates from the powerhouse and can be seen from the right vantage point running straight up the mountain. This tramway is still in use today by the power company to maintain the dams on Agnew & Gem Lake. The steep railway was originally an elevated wooden trestle. In the 1950s, the elevated wooden railway was torn down and the slope back-filled then graded smooth being completely rebuilt with the tracks on the ground. The incline tram is pulled up the mountainside with a single steel cable powered by an electric motor at the summit at a max grade of 60-degree incline. The steel cable on the Agnew Tram is 1-mile long. Train cars pulled up supplies to build the dams at Agnew Lake and Gem Lake. The lake was name for Theodore C. Agnew, an early settler and is as glacial lake left behind from the Rush Creek Glacier. A short Y-switchback spur was added in 1953 to allow the tram cars to divert to Agnew Lake Dam.

To build Gem Lake, a second 1600 ft incline railroad bed was built, pushed up the canyon to the edge of Gem Lake 560 vertical feet. All materials were first transported to Agnew Lake, then loaded on a barge and floated across Agnew Lake to the far east side, unloaded and reloaded onto the Gem Lake tram car and pulled up again. A bunkhouse was built at Gem Lake and workers lived in the bunk house atop the mountain while the dam was being built. Both dams were built in 1915-1916 when the water system for Los Angeles was being created.  The incline trams to Agnew & Gem Lake are one of the last of their kind in existence and still in daily operation for over 100 years.

Video on the history and building of the Agnew Incline Tramway - still in use today over 100 years after it was built.

The dams have a distinctive shape known as a multiple-arch dam composed of multiple repeating reinforced concrete arches. This type of dam was unusual, rare and even controversial in 1915, but this type of construction used less material and lowered building costs for this hard-to-reach location. For example, concrete and steel rebar to build the dams was manufactured 336 miles away and transported by broad-gauge railway to the end of the line. Thousands of tons of materials including all the steel penstocks were then re-loaded onto a different train and transported another 84 miles over narrow-gauge railroad then hauled another 70 miles from Benton across the bottom of Mono Lake over sandy desert roads using caterpillar tractors pulling steel wheeled wagons to the power-house below the dam. The concrete and rebar was next loaded on cable tram cars and raised 1290 ft vertically on the 4826 ft incline railroad to Agnew Lake.

An identical design was used for the Gem Lake dam position directly above Agnew Lake. Other materials like sand and lumber were all sourced locally to keep build costs down.

 

The original rights to develop Rush Creek were acquired by James Stuart Cain, a name generally associated with nearby Bodie State Historic Park. Some of the incline railroad components were sourced from Bodie as the mines shut down there. Agnew Lake is located .8 miles from the substation although the hike to reach the lake is longer involving multiple switchbacks to climb the steep mountain side. The Rush Creek Power House began producing electricity by 1916.

Rush Creek hiking trail, based from the Frontier Pack Station at Silver Lake crisscrosses this railroad bed and there are numerous other mountain lakes to hike to beyond Agnew and Gem Lakes.

Materials for the building of the dams were transported from 490 miles away,
then hauled up the mountain one load at a time

Double Eagle Resort, Eagles Landing & Restaurant

Across the highway from the Whispering Pines Motel is the Double Eagle Resort offering vacation home like accommodations overlooking a small pond. There’s also a small restaurant here providing food for nearby campers and the lodging establishment guests.

Horsetail Falls

Along the June Lake Loop, you’ll often catch glimpses of a massive waterfall, nearly 300 feet high to the due east, best visible in spring and found above the Rush Creek Substation at Silver Lake. The photo at right is in the off-season but you can see the how in spring, the water pours over the rock face.

During fall rides, the water release from Agnew Lake may be minimal and the dramatic view of cascading water will have to wait for another season. Water drops 270 feet in the height of the spring runoff, often spreading out over a massive rock wall into multiple fingers when water flows are high.

Beyond Silver Lake, the June Lake Loop finally reaches the furthest point away from Highway 395 and begins the southern half of the loop through several s-curves and gaining elevation entering the outskirts of June Lake proper with several side streets of homes, and motels.

 

The one mountain subdivision is found here at Reverse Creek Lodge via Rainbow Street and is worth noting for the feeder traffic it may produce onto the main road. Snowfall can reach such depths here that residents have been known to have to tunnel out of their homes. The vast majority of developments are over the next 5-miles. Population of June Lake is less than 700 residents, but can triple to 2500 in summer although it’s a fraction of the congestion in nearby Mammoth Lakes.

At June Mountain Ski Hill, there’s large parking lot for the ski hill, but across from the ski hill is Northshore Rd. After you’ve ridden the June Lake Loop at least once, add this to the roster. It extends the ride and adds a few more miles of immersion in the mountain views and terrain.

Northshore Rd

Northshore Road is the perfect detour to avoid riding through the tiny town of June Lake. Granted, the town is short and never seemingly very busy, Northshore Rd is 3.5 miles around the back side of Gull and June Lake. Ridden either direction, it offers even better views as it gains elevation along Reversed Ridge bumping over the 7800 ft level. The trailhead for the aforementioned Reversed Peak trek is here, offering a 7-mile round hike to the 9174 ft summit. Reversed Peak has two trailheads. The first is located ½ mile from Highway 158 (from the ski hill parking lot) and the second entrance (to form a loop around the base) is located across from the baseball field another ½ mile up and over the rise. Reversed Peak Loop Trail circles 2 miles around the base of this mountain. Oh Ridge was the eastern terminus of the June Lake glacier which pushed up this north-south ridgeline, today the Oh Ridge Campground sits atop this ridge, but also provides easy paved access to June Lake via June Lake Beach Rd.

Horsetail Falls is a 270 ft waterfall overlooking the June Lake Loop
& best viewed during spring snow melt

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Gull Lake

Nearing the town, there’s a small sign for Gull Meadows Car-Top Boat Launch and Picnic Area, better known as Gull Lake Fisherman Trail. This is a single lane gravel road, but it circles around the hilltop to the west shore of Gull Lake and a small parking area. Gull Lake is only 60 acres and the smallest of the four lakes along this ride. Highway 158 wiggles uphill here into town, campgrounds Reversed Creek and Gull Lake on both sides of the road which is lined by aspen trees. Reversed Creek is so named because it flows the opposite direction of all the other creeks, flowing towards the mountains rather than away from the mountains. Reversed Creek is the outlet for Gull and June Lake when they begin to overflow from snowmelt or spring water. Reversed Creek eventually joins with Rush Creek near the Silver Lake Meadow making a complete loop eventually reaching Mono Lake.

 As you come into June Lake, turn onto Gull Lake Dr on the northeast corner of the lake to reach the Gull Lake Marina. Follow the signs for the Library and Gull Lake Park Community Center Marina. Flow downhill to reach the Marina for some stunning pictures of the range reflected off the surface of Gull Lake.

Balance Rock greets travelers as they enter June Lake

Balance Rock

A noticeable landmark on the northeast edge of town at the June Lake Fire Station is a massive ball shaped rock. This spherical boulder is 18 feet tall and weighs 150 tons. It was carried by the Rush Creek Glacier to its present position. Deposited here by glacial erratics, this occurs when a piece of rock is carried along by the glacial ice and dropped far away from its starting point, even hundreds of miles. The Rush Creek Glacier carried this 150-ton rock and left it here perfectly balanced beside the fire station. Glaciers have been known to carry very large rocks vast distances, in Alberta south of Calgary, an 18,200-ton rock 135x60 feet in size was carried away from the Rocky Mountains and deposited on a flat plain in Alberta, Canada west of the town of Okotoks.

June Lake Slot Machines

A short distance from the fire station at Northshore Rd and Highway 158 three miles in from Highway 395 is the June Lake Slot Machines historical marker:

During the 1930s in central Mono County, demand for gaming entertainment skyrocketed with the influx of hundreds of employees working on the Mono Basin Project. To accommodate the workers, many local bars and cafes installed slot machines. Although illegal, their use in Mono County thrived for many years. Unfortunately, upon completion of the aqueduct in 1941 and transfer of all workers, demand for this activity diminished. Within a few years most slot machines were voluntarily removed. It was rumored that the last slot machines were hastily dumped into June Lake in the middle of the night by local merchants in response to an imminent raid by the State Revenue Agents, however, the legend of the slot machines did not end there. Over the years, numerous attempts to locate them by special cold water dive teams failed. Although no one has inserted a coin into one and pulled the handle, many people still gamble on hitting the jackpot and finding those "one armed bandits" at the bottom of June Lake, forever lost? Time will tell.

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Hairpins descending to Ruth Lake

Highway 158 flows along June Lake, el 7621 ft and covering 320 acres, while the ridge, bordering south along the road extends up to 9764 ft Mount Downs. There are two marinas at June Lake: June Lake Marina and Big Rock Resort. Fishermen base here seeking a small population of Lahontan cutthroat trout in June Lake. The view from the highway is intensely scenic, and if you ride this loop clockwise (vs this counter-clockwise description), the view along June Lake here again assures you this loop is well-worth the detour. Another mile down a long straight and you’ll reach Highway 395. There is fuel here at the June Lake Junction.

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Where to Next?

Northbound: Highway 120 East is one of our all-time favorite roads along the south edge of Mono Lake. It pairs up nicely with Benton-Crossing Rd to form an enjoyable, if not remote, loop.

North from June Lake, Lee Vining and the back entrance to Yosemite Highway 120 Tioga Pass are mere minutes away.

Note that Bodie Ghost Town is on the north side of Mono Lake and easily assessable from Highway 395. Nearby Bridgeport is good for fuel and eats if your destination is northbound. Further north is Highway 108 Sonora Pass and the rest of the Sierra Nevada mountain passes: Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass & Highway 89 Monitor Pass. Further north are Ice House Rd, Wentworth Springs Rd to Mosquito Ridge Rd.

Southbound: The June Lake Loop is 14 miles north of Mammoth Lakes and these two ski hills are neighbors. Entering Mammoth village is done via a Mammoth Scenic Loop Rd located 10 miles south of June Lake Junction. This is also the route to Devils Postpile which is on the eastern backside of Mammoth Ski areas and reached via following Highway 203 to its end. Note if you want to reach Devils Postpile National Monument, you can only reach it on two-wheels certain times of the year. The busy season requires access via shuttle. Log onto the national park’s website for the latest updates. The times I’ve led motorcycle tours to Devils Postpile, we rode there in September and rode all the way to the site and then walked a short distance to view the hexagonal columns. Very cool place to visit. A massive waterfall known is Rainbow Falls is also nearby via a short walk. Benton Crossing Rd, Lower Rock Creek Rd, Highway 168 Ancient Bristlecone Forest & Manzanar War Internment Camp are further south.

Eastbound : Nearby is Highway 120 East, while a few miles to the south at the Mammoth Airport and the Little Green Church is Benton Crossing Rd headed around Crowley Lake and towards the Nevada border. This is a favorite ride of the author, and many bicyclists.

First glimpse of Ruth Lake looking north

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Pashnit Tour group riding along the June Lake Loop

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This video is counter-clockwise from June Lake Junction (opposite of written description above).

June Lake Loop - Highway 158 - Photo Gallery

MORE INFO: June Lake Loop - Highway 158

RIDE (near) IT on a PASHNIT TOUR
16 Miles - LENGTH

Main Highway - PAVEMENT
S-curves, gradual elevation changes - CURVES

June Lake Junction - GAS

Numerous - LODGING

 7654 ft - PEAK ELEVATION
 


GPS LOCATION
37°46′47″N 119°04′32″W -  June Lake

40°22′08″N 123°26′00″W - Silver Lake Resort

40°6′N 123°48′W - June Lake Slot Machine Historical Marker 
 40°10′35″N 123°36′42″W - June Lake Junction

LISTED CONNECTING SIDEROADS:

Hoagland Rd (paved)
Zenia-Lake Mountain Rd (paved)
Van Duzen Rd
 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
June Lake Accommodations & Rentals
June Lake Loop

Parker Lake Hiking Trail Photos

Parker Lake Hiking Trail Photos - II


Silver Lake Resort
Double Eagle Resort


Hike to Agnew & Gem  Lake
Hike to Reversed Peak Summit

 

Rush Creek Hydro Electric System
Mono Basin Watershed Assessment
Link

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June Lake Loop - Highway 158

June Lake Loop

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Rush Creek Hiking Trail to Pacific Crest Trail

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Topo Maps