Ebbetts Pass Snowmobiling

Back Country Routes

Snowmobiling around Ebbetts Pass

snowmobile rider

The Ebbetts Pass area has long been a popular place for snowmobilers. Groomed routes can be found near two Sno-Parks on the west side of the pass at Spicer Reservoir Road and Lake Alpine. Miles of back country roads meander through the hills on either side of the summit.

Bear Valley Snowmobile offers snowmobile rentals for use on the Spicer or Lake Alpine trails or around Bear Valley Village.

Winter Safety

Caution should always be taken when venturing out into the back country on snowmobiles during the winter. Sudden changes in conditions, break-downs, accidents, and avalanches are only some of the dangers that snowmobile drivers must consider. The inclusion of a snowmobile route in this guide does not mean that it is safe under all conditions.

  • Check with the Forest Service before heading out to be sure conditions are safe on the route you will be using.
  • Always carry emergency gear and a cell phone.
  • Let a responsible person know where you are going and when you will be returning.
  • Travel with at least one other snowmobile.

The Sierra Avalanche Center provides information about avalanche conditions in the Sierra from Yuba Pass in the north to Ebbetts Pass in the south. Visit their website at Sierra Avalanche Center.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Carson Ranger District Winter Recreation Guide shows snowmobiling areas on the east side of Ebbetts Pass and includes a lot of good information about snowmobiling safety.


Sno-Parks are parking areas maintained in the winter to allow people to park safely and pursue winter activities such as cross-county skiing or snowmobiling. They have pit toilets available. To use a Sno-Park you must have a permit. You can purchase a day permit for $5 or an annual pass (Nov. 1 - May 30) for $25. They are good at any California Sno-Park.

Passes can be purchased at Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods in Arnold, Sierra Nevada Adventure Co. in Arnold, or Bear Valley Snowmobile in Bear Valley. Permits may also be purchased online for an additional $1.95 at
Sno-Park Permits.

Overnight parking is allowed unless posted otherwise. Vehicles parked overnight need to be staked at all 4 corners with 1x2 inch by 8-foot poles to prevent accidental damage by snow removal equipment.

Highway 4 Sno-Parks

Spicer: On Spicer Road just a quarter mile from Highway 4. Suggested activities there are cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snow play, and snowmobiling.
Lake Alpine: At the end of the plowed section of Highway 4 near Lake Alpine. Upgrades for 2016 include an unloading area for snowmobiles, new restrooms, and a new parking area. Suggested activities there are cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snow play, and snowmobiling.


Groomed Snowmobile Routes

Lake Alpine Sno-Park to Bear Valley Village

This 1.5 mile intermediate trail connects the Sno-Park at the end of the plowed section of Highway 4 near Lake Alpine with Bear Valley Village. It involves a highway crossing.

Lake Alpine Sno-Park to Ebbetts Pass

Highway 4 (east of the closure gate) is groomed for snowmobile use from the Sno-Park just east of Bear Valley to the top of Ebbetts Pass (approximately 15 miles) and out to Highland Lakes. This trail has numerous segments and is appropriate for different skill levels from novice to expert. As the trail climbs towards the pass, the views are spectacular. Opportunities exist for expert riders to continue riding on the un-groomed portion of the Highway on the east side of Ebbetts Pass. Avalanche danger there is a consideration. (Note: The groomed portion of Highway 4 is a multi-user trail, and is heavily used by Nordic skiers as well as snowmobilers, particularly in the Lake Alpine region.)

Spicer Reservoir

The snowmobile trail begins 1/4 mile from Highway 4 at the Spicer Reservoir Road Sno-Park. The route follows the roads to Union and Utica reservoirs, Summit and Elephant Rock lakes, or the Spicer Reservoir Power House. Very experienced riders may try the un-groomed route along Slick Rock Road to access Lake Alpine.


Other Snowmobiling Areas

A labyrinth of forest roads lead away from Highway 4 at places such as Black Springs and Cabbage Patch. Many of these ungroomed roads make good snowmobile routes when conditions are safe.

Deer Valley

The route from Hermit Valley to Blue Lakes via the Deer Valley route is sometimes used by snowmobilers in the winter. The trail is reportedly difficult to follow.


Centerville, at the intersection of Highway 4 and Wolf Creek Road, is a snowmobile staging area on the east side of Ebbetts Pass. The route up Highway 4 to the summit of the pass is not heavily used because of the danger of avalanches at a place known as Flintstones. There is an effort being made to repair Forest Road 112 that bypasses this danger spot.


Bear Valley Snowmobile

Bear Valley Snowmobile provides snowmobile rentals, sales, and service.
3 Bear Valley Road, Bear Valley, CA
(209) 753-2323 or Toll Free (877) HWY4.FUN
Bear Valley Snowmobile

Snowmobile Rentals

  • Two snowmobile minimum, 18 years or older, current driver's license
  • Register and get fit for helmet at Bear Valley shop, then drive to Sno-Park to pick up your snowmobile
  • Orientation before you set out
  • Ride on Alpine Trail, Spicer Trail or in Bear Valley. (See links to maps below)

Snowmobile Trail Maps

Alpine Trail Map
Spicer Trail Map
Bear Valley Village Map

Snowmobile Rental Costs - 2016-17 Season

Lake Alpine Trail: 2 Hours $149, 4 Hours $189
Spicer Trail: 2 Hours $179
Bear Valley Village: 1 Hour $99, 1 Day $199, Week $950


Snowmobiling on Sonora Pass and Carson Pass

Sonora Pass

To the south on Sonora Pass is a great snowmobile route begining at the Sno-Park near Strawberry and winding up Highway 108 to Kennedy Meadows. Find the information on Sonora Pass Vacations.

Carson Pass

On Carson Pass, a few miles to the north, are four Sno-Parks along with dedicated snowmobiling routes. Find maps and complete information on Up and Over Carson Pass.