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Ghost Town Loop Bodie Hills, CA

The Ghost Town Loop Bodie traverse through the rolling hills east of Bridgeport, California was a great way to spend Labor Day. The entire trip took about 4 hours as we took our time touring the backcountry high-desert hills and drove the back way into the ghost town of Bodie.

I used the route listed in Tony Huegel’s “Sierra Nevada Byways” book (Tour 33 – Ghost Town Loop) which I think may be out of print currently since Amazon has it listed for $140!

It’s probably easier and cheaper to use Alltrails or Avenza maps, but I’d look to see if Wilderness Press releases another printing of Tony Huegel’s book. I’ve used it a bunch and it was a great last-minute pick-up at Tom’s Place General Store.

Tom’s Place General Store

The Ghost Town Loop to Bodie is pretty much dirt road with a little gravel so any 4WD with decent clearance should be able to handle it. Its a good route to if you are new to overlanding and want to get the feel for easy off-road driving on maintained dirt roads without much need for 4-WD driving skills.

Ghost Town Loop Bodie

Rating: Easy

Maps: Alltrails Bodie Ghost Town OHV Trail

Books: Tony Huegel’s “Sierra Nevada Byways” 4th printing 2016 by Wilderness Press.

Time/Distance: Roughly under 3 hours without stops. About 34 miles on my odometer with side trip up Masonic Mountain and down to Middle and Lower Town.

How to get there: From Bridgeport, CA and U.S. 395, head north on SR 182 for approximately 3.8 miles to the junction with Masonic Road (046) and turn right onto Masonic Road. You’ll head uphill on a wide well-maintained dirt road for about 5 miles until you reach the abandoned Chemung Mine. This is a good place to stop and check out the ruins and enjoy a panoramic view of the Eastern Sierra’s high desert.

Chemung mine Bridgeport, CA
Stopping at the abandoned Chemung mine.

From the old Chemung mine, continue east on 046 around Masonic Mountain. There’s a single lane dirt road to the right that will take you up and around mountain to the cell phone tower. There are some blind turns and a steep drop off to the left hand side as you’re heading up, so drive slow if its a weekend because you might have vehicles heading down as well.

on the Ghost Town Loop to Bodie, CA
On the Ghost Town Loop to Bodie, CA

After the right-hand spur to Masonic Mountain, you’ll continue on 046 down into the remains of the old gold rush town of Masonic and its different sections of Upper, Middle and Lower Town.

If you continue left at the fork for Road 169 just after Upper Town, you can continue down into the ruins of Middle and Lower Town. As you head down the slight hill, you can also see the remnants of some abandoned mines on the hillside.

Abandoned mines on the Ghost Town Loop

After you drive down into Middle and Lower Town, reverse direction back up the hill where Road 169 forks off from 046.

If you are coming down from Masonic Mountain and Chemung mine, and don’t take the spur into Middle and Lower Town, you’ll turn right onto 169 at the fork.

If you’re coming back up 046 from Middle and Lower Town, then its a left turn onto Road 169 where it will wind through about 14 miles of pastureland with grazing cattle until you reach the ridge above the ghost town of Bodie, California.

Follow the dirt road down into the parking lot for Bodie and spend some time learning about one of the best preserved ghost towns in the Eastern Sierras.

exterior Bodie Ghost Town
The ghost town of Bodie, California as the clouds loom overhead

Once you finish checking out Bodie (and there are restrooms there), you can either take the main improved road 270 (Bodie Road) west out of Bodie back to Highway 395 or reverse your route and head back up 169.

By Overlanding John

Just a guy that wants to take the road less traveled by and enjoy the journey

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