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This year, you can ski from Mammoth Mountain to Tamarack. Yes, legally

This year, you can ski from Mammoth Mountain to Tamarack. Yes, legally
Skiers can ride the lift to a Mammoth-to-Tamarack tour, or hoof it up the hill themselves, under new options at the Sierra resort. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Mammoth Lakes is prepping for the coming winter with some new activities, expanded dining options – including more healthful fare – and changes in air service to the massive Sierra resort.

When does it start? That’s up to the snow gods. But early storms seem to always strike around Thanksgiving, and early December skiing can be some of the best of the season, with fresh flakes, short lift lines and wide-open trails.

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Among the new offerings are so-called sidecountry tours from Mammoth to Tamarack Lodge, the cross-country hub some 2 miles away in the lakes region.

Sidecountry tours are sort of a blend of backcountry and traditional downhill. The tours take place outside of the resort boundary, but use the resort chair lifts to get up the hill, rather than a snow cat or snowmobile, as you would with backcountry skiing.

Guides are provided.

The resort is also giving skiers and split boarders three ways to hoof it up the hill on their own this season, with a new uphill policy. Three separate trials will be available from Main, Eagle and Canyon lodges. This off-the-beaten-path option provides rigorous exercise, and can be done only with approved gear.

Visitors can pre-load for a strenuous day on the hill at the Warming Hut Restaurant, on Old Mammoth Road. The restaurant serves homemade breakfasts and lunches, including pancakes and breakfast hashes and a lunchtime Reuben.

The area’s newest health-focused eatery, Elixir Superfood and Juice, near Main Street, offers cold-pressed organic juices, blended smoothies, signature salads and grain bowls.

First Chair Food Truck, meanwhile, offers breakfast burritos and sandwiches, including the Vietnamese bahn mi. It is usually parked in the Footloose Sports lot.

Getting to Mammoth from Los Angeles requires either a five-hour drive or a quick flight. On Dec. 1, United begins daily service from LAX to the Mammoth Lakes airport, replacing Alaska as the resort’s airline link.

JetSuiteX, the high-end charter service, will now offer flights to Mammoth from Orange County and Burbank.

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