Mt McGee

Mt McGee is the gem of the Mammoth area. It receives far less wind than its nearby neighbor Mammoth Mountain, and you do not have to jump through all the hoops to fly from the resort. A great jump off point for PG flights to the NE or NW, I would say this is the second best Sierra launch for PG or HG, but still a distant second to Walt’s Point. When the Owen’s Valley is blown out or too huge to fly comfortably, McGee is usually a little bit more hospitable with lighter winds and less valley wind. But this is the Sierra, so bring your ‘A’ game and make conservative decisions out here. The site is about at the P2 level when its just mellow sled rides, but is P4+ when mid summer thermals are ripping. Getting very high over the peaks is common here.

To arrive at the LZ- From the intersection of highways 395 and 203 (the short highway into the town of Mammoth), head south towards Bishop. Go about 7 miles until you see a large CalTrans facility on your left. At this point, take the next available left turn, less than an 1/4th of a mile further south of the CalTrans station. This road comes to a T within two hundred feet. Turn right, go one hundred feet, and turn left off the paved road onto a dirt one. A couple of hundred feet leads you to the LZ parking, right at the intersection of two barbed wire fences. There are often wind streamers here.


Here is a view of the LZ from about 3/4 the way down from the normal launch. The parking area is visible just to the right of my mallions on my left riser set. If you look close, you can see a white vehicle there in the pic. The legal LZ starts there, and runs all the way to the lake. Do not land in the lighter green triangle of grass just down and right of the mallions-


Arriving at launch- From the LZ, get back on highway 395 and head north. Go 1.2 miles and turn left onto Mount Morrison road. Go a quarter mile and turn left just before the old cemetary. After a couple hundred feet, trend left onto the good dirt road. From here do not make any turns, all the way to launch. There are many splits and side roads, but just stay on the main dirt that looks like it receives most of the traffic. Once you leave the cemetary, in 1/2 mile you will drop down into a shallow wash and take the road through this wash to the switchbacks. From the base of the switchbacks only AWD vehicles with somewhat decent clearance are needed. Nine giant switchbacks get you all the way to the normal PG and HG launch. From here it is a 2,300 ft flight to the LZ, but the road continues all the way up towards the top as well.


Here is an aerial shot looking down at the normal PG launch, and you can see all the way down to the green LZ just right of center in the image. You park in the turnout at the end of the obvious switchback in the bottom middle of the pic, and the launch is the small clearing just a few steps downhill and back the way you came-

mcgee paragliding



Top Launch- To proceed further from the normal PG launch, you will have to have a real 4X4 Toyota or Jeep, as it’s pretty hairy. The upper launch has 3,800 ft of vertical relief and a much steeper angle. PG’s or HG’s can make it all the way to the normal LZ, but speed wings generally land on a small dirt road directly below the upper launch site. There are two stacks of rocks at the launch to let you know that you are at the right spot. Steep.


Looking back at the NE corner of McGee. You can see the road coming up Tobacco Flat through the gully, in the bottom right hand portion of the image. The road then switchbacks up all the way to the summit plateau. The normal PG launch can be seen on the furthest left switchback. about 2/3 the way up. The true summit and the upper launch is all the way across the plateau, it’s the little bump on the top left-

mount mcgee


McGee is an east facing lee side site. This means that the west wind will push over at some point during the day, and you should be aware of this. You are launching into an anabatic E or SE wind half way up the east face, so make sure that the west wind is not strong or you could get worked. Do not land in the horse pen that is a few acres in size, right next to the LZ. The Mammoth/Yosemite airport (MMH) has class D airspace around it, so do not fly anywhere close to them. As well, do not come in super high anything NE of the LZ. This is the final approach pattern for aircraft, so use caution if going XC in a NE direction.

The classic routes from here are to head over Convict lake towards Mammoth. From there you can either stay on the Sierra crest (heading NW) or cross onto the Glass Mountain/Mono Craters (NE) direction. Staying on the Sierra route is often very difficult as the west wind funnels up Mammoth Pass, right around Mammoth Mountain, which always tries to blow you out east. If thats the case, then embrace it and head for Nevada (NE). One of the best convergences in the area sets up around the intersections of highways 203 and 395, and shoots out NE towards Hawthorne. It’s amazing.

Heading south is generally difficult, as it’s almost always upwind to head that way.



Launch site: Mt McGee

Aspect: NE, E, SE

Vertical descent: 2,300 ft from the normal launch, 3,800 ft from the upper launch

Launch elevation: 9,150 ft from the normal launch, 10,600 from the upper launch

Best for: All wings

Approach: AWD with some clearance or better for the normal launch, real deal 4X4 for the upper launch

Time to launch from the LZ: Half hour to the normal launch, another twenty to thirty to the top

Glide ratio to primary LZ:


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