Bridgeport Winter Trail System: A Gateway to the Eastern Sierra

Katy Shipley | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

Brought to you by Mono County Tourism

At the base of jagged peaks and alpine forests lies the quaint and historic town of Bridgeport, CA. A peaceful place where the cows graze, hot springs bubble, and winter recreation opportunities abound. Here, you can find over 500 miles of stunning trails — summer and winter alike. As the winter season approaches, the maintenance crews for the many access points are getting ready for another season of fun in the high country. 

Away from the bustle of the resorts, a backcountry trail awaits near Buckeye Hot Springs. The Bridgeport Winter Trail System is a new winter recreation area in the region. Anyone hoping to explore scenic new routes and possibly take a dip underneath a natural thermal waterfall should add this groomed winter trail to their list.

Enjoying the view of the surrounding peaks. Image: Nathan Bech, Wilderness and Trails Manager, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

About the Bridgeport Winter Trail System

Last year, Bridgeport Winter Trail System was created. The trail was a pilot project made possible by volunteers and the Forest Service. This unique and scenic groomed Nordic trail lies just 7 miles off Highway 395, up Twin Lakes Rd. 

According to the Mono County website,

“This 4.25 mile (8.5 mile out & back) groomed winter trail provides an excellent opportunity to kick and glide with access to Buckeye Hot Springs day-use area and incredible views of the Bridgeport Valley, Bridgeport Reservoir, and the Hunewill Hills. This U.S. Forest Service trail-system is groomed and maintained by local volunteers.”

You can find updates, trial etiquette info, and trail maps by visiting the county site or stopping by the Bridgeport Ranger Station. I’ve always found the rangers in this area to be very kind and full of knowledge. When exploring Forest Service land, I always give them a call, check for updates, and ask about any road closures before my trip. 

2022/23 trail map for the Bridgeport Winter Trail System Map. Image: US Forest Service and Mono County

A Chat With Jimmy Little

I had the chance to speak with Jimmy Little, the owner of Virginia Creek Settlement and head volunteer behind the Bridgeport Winter Trail System. His goal was to create more winter recreation in the Bridgeport area. He said the trail was a success and met with incredible support from the community and Forest Service. Thanks to him and his wife, the existing trail from last year is scheduled for this season and some expansion is in the works. 

Jimmy mentioned he hopes to soon expand the trail system. Depending on feasibility and volunteers, there could be more groomed trails one day.

It is always inspiring to talk to folks who donate time and effort to their communities. Volunteers like Jimmy make access into this rugged terrain possible. The Twin Lakes area is phenomenal and I was so happy to hear there is someone striving for more winter recreation here. 

A view from the groomer on the Bridgeport Trail system. Image: Mono County Tourism Facebook

Winter Operations & Etiquette for Bridgeport Winter Trail System:

  • Grooming and plowing operations are weather dependent. Jan-April. 
  • Please respect TEMPORARY winter closures – NO WHEELED VEHICLES BEYOND CLOSURES
  • Please park in staging areas identified on map  DO NOT BLOCK ROADWAY – PROVIDE ACCESS FOR SNOW PLOWING AND EMERGENCY VEHICLE OPERATIONS
  • Camp Like a Pro!  RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY – NO TRESPASSING
  • Do not ride or walk in cross country ski tracks.
  • Respect other trail users. Be courteous and yield right of way according to etiquette code. All users yield to grooming machines
  •  Over-Snow-Vehicles (OSV) yield to all other users. SPEED LIMIT IS 15 MPH
  • FAT BIKES: Yield to other non-motorized users. Do not ride in soft conditions – If you leave a rut deeper than 2 inches, it’s too soft.

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