A ceremony Oct. 20 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., marked the completion of a series of important federal, state, and locally funded trail projects, the official grand opening of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, and the celebration of the agency partnerships that supported it. The project helped to create a network of trails from within the town of Mammoth Lakes going out to the surrounding public lands.
Several noteworthy long-term trails projects were honored including the completion of the Lakes Basin Path, and the wayfinding and interpretive signage that was installed along paths and trails in the area.
The Inyo National Forest, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, the Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association, and the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation teamed to commemorate the occasion with tours, Summer of Stewardship volunteer trail projects, and a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center.
Construction of the Class 1 Lake Mary Road Bike Path began in August of 2007 and opened to the public four years later. In the intervening years it grew to a larger, partner-funded project. On its way to Horseshoe Lake, the path gains nearly 1,000 feet of breathtaking elevation over 5.3 miles of Inyo National Forest land.
Both the bike path project and a road rehabilitation project were funded through a variety of sources including the 2009 Recovery Act. The construction included 5.7 miles of asphalt bike path (separated from traffic) for bikes and pedestrians, 27,000 sq. ft. of retaining walls, several prefabricated bridges, a pedestrian/bike tunnel, concrete curbs and gutters and 1.3 miles of roadway improvements and erosion control.
A total of 125 wayfinding signs and 16 interpretive exhibits were also installed along various Mammoth Lakes paths and trails. The design, fabrication and installation of these signs on national forest land was made possible by Forest Service Recovery Act funds. Their location and placement is being jointly managed by Inyo National Forest and Town Public Works Department personnel through a Challenge Cost Share Agreement.
The new interpretive exhibits panels have been designed to help travelers along the bike path learn more about the cultural and natural history of the Mammoth Lakes area. They are meant to improve the quality of the recreation experience and are a key component of an effort to grow the local tourism economy.
Integral to this new signage are QR (quick response) codes that will, when scanned with a smartphone, connect visitors with additional information about the surrounding area. This enhanced content is channeled through the new Mammoth Lakes Trail System Web site, which offers detailed trail, destination, activity and experience information for the entire 300-plus miles of trails. It also connects users to nationally renowned forests, parks, wilderness areas, and other outdoor attractions.
The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites over the Veterans Day holiday weekend, Nov. 10-12. The fee waiver days support the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside. To find a forest near you, check out our Forest Locator Map!