re-sized MB Lake Tahoe

Mountain Biking at Lake Tahoe

If you are into mountain biking and you are in the Lake Tahoe area of California this summer you should check out this list of trails which will bring enjoyment, challenge and fun whatever your level of expertise. My thanks go out to Wendy Lautner of www.tahoe.com for this inspiration; with hundreds of miles of trails to choose from the list of options is sure to make the head spin. Here’s a good list of trails to get you started, from there the opportunities are endless.

mountain biking on the trails of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

South Shore
• Kingsbury to Spooner – intermediate/advanced, 9.6 miles one way

If you’re looking for some great views, technical riding, good climbs and fun descents this is the trail for you. You’ll gain 1,220 feet and lose 1,540 feet over 9.6 miles, then turn around to gain what you’ve lost and lose what you’ve gained. Or set a shuttle half-way if you’re short on time or motivation. The views rival the Flume trail on this technical ride where you’ll have to be ready for rock steps and hair pin turns. Follow the orange diamonds to stay on track.
Getting there: From Highway 50 at Stateline head up Kingsbury Grade towards Daggett Pass, turn left on North Benjamin and park in the lot where the road turns to dirt. Ride up the main road and turn left at the third road. About a half-mile later, turn uphill to start the ride.

Kirkwood – beginner/intermediate/advanced, all distances
There’s plenty of riding at Kirkwood winter and summer. Lift accessed riding starts July 4 and runs through Sept. 7, but those willing to put in the work can access dozens of miles of singletrack and service road trails before the lifts start spinning. Beginners will want to try Summer Road which starts at the base area and climbs to the top of Chair 2 before descending to Chair 3. Intermediate riders should check out Vista Trail into Devil’s Corral continuing on either Upper Corral or Lower Corral loops. This ride features fun singletrack with plenty of wildflowers, waterfalls and creek crossings. Advanced riders head to Thunder Mountain and Horse Canyon trails. Lung-busting climbs provide riders with exhilarating descents. Visit www.kirkwood.com for more details.
Getting there: From South Lake Tahoe take Highway 50 towards Meyers and turn south on Highway 89. Continue 11.1 miles before turning west (right) at the Highway 88 junction. Turn left into Kirkwood after 14.3 miles.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – advanced, 20 mile loop
Mountain bikers can breathe easy on this highly technical and arduous trail since motorized vehicles were outlawed here in 2007. However, that doesn’t mean this ride is going to be easy. Toted as one of the most technical, demanding and exhilarating rides in the Tahoe area you’ll climb 3,200 feet before screaming down the technical Saxon Creek Drainage on the way home. Bring plenty of water.
Getting there: From South Lake Tahoe head east on Highway 50 towards Myers. Turn onto Pioneer Trail at the stop light and follow for almost a mile before turning right on Oneidas. Park at the turnoffs past the Forest Service gate.

Powerlines – beginner/kids, Out and back ride
One of the benefits of the Powerlines trail is that you can start from the heart of South Lake Tahoe and simply enjoy the fast, mellow, rolling terrain through forest and wildflowers in spring and early summer or you can use the Powerlines trail to hook up to longer rides on the Tahoe Rim Trail or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Beginners will simply want to stay on the Powerlines trail and turn around when they’ve had enough. Caution: this trail is open to motorized vehicles.
Getting there: Powerlines parallels Pioneer Trail Road, making many access points along the trail, but to start from the top turn up Ski Run Blvd. from Highway 50. Turn right again near the top of the road before it dead ends.

North Shore
• The Flume – intermediate/advanced, 23-mile loop or 13.5-mile shuttle assisted downhill

You cannot come to Lake Tahoe to mountain bike and miss the Flume trail. This iconic trail provides dramatic views of the Lake while it hugs steep hillside 1,500 above the azure waters. For the cross country option, access the trail via North Canyon Road from Spooner Lake or take the downhill-only approach and reach the trail from Tahoe Meadows off Highway 431, shuttles available at Spooner Lake Outdoor Company (775) 749-5349.
Getting there: Spooner Lake: From Incline Village, follow State Route 28 south for 10 miles. Turn left into Spooner Lake. Tahoe Meadows: From its junction with State Route 28, follow Highway 431 seven miles to the large parking lot on the right.

Emigrant Trail – beginner/intermediate, 19 miles out-and-back
This popular mountain bike trail sees plenty of weekend traffic, but it’s a worthy ride for people of all ability levels. You’ll see plenty of wildflowers in spring and early summer while you roll along over fun and fast single track. A bonus is the half-way point at Stampede Reservoir where a cool dip makes a refreshing treat on a hot day.
Getting there: Follow Highway 89 north from Interstate 80. Park in the dirt lot on the left just before the sign to Hobart Mills.

Hole in the Ground – advanced, 17 miles
If you’re dying to test your technical skill, you owe it to yourself to ride Hole in the Ground. After climbing for a short time on a two-track road, you’ll turn left onto a technical singletrack that doesn’t let up for the entire road. It’s a lot of fun, but expect some bumps and bruises your first time out. You’ll also get some great mountain views.
Getting there: From Interstate 80 exit Boreal Ridge. Drive up the short, steep paved road. Park along the road and start riding the dirt road up toward Castle Peak.

Sawtooth Ridge Trail – intermediate, many distances
This area has seen an explosion in new trails in the past couple of years and with good reason. Enter an intermediate rider’s dream and dozens of miles in this network of trails that spans from Truckee to Tahoe City. From the trailhead, follow the singletrack to a vista point offering views of the Truckee River, Squaw and Highway 89. Continue on the trail to Sawtooth Ridge Road, cross the road to continue on the trail before reaching a sign that says 2 Beavers & a Bear and Two Bridges. Make a nice loop by starting toward 2 Beavers & a Bear and finishing on the Two Bridges trail (there’s actually three bridges).
Getting there: From Brockway Road turn on Palisades Drive at the 7-Eleven. Turn right on Silver Fir and left on Thelin. Park in the lot past the green gate.

Northstar-at-Tahoe – beginner/intermediate/advance, many trails/distances
There’s a new vocabulary in mountain biking these days – “Do you ride regular trails or do you ride at Northstar?” – and that’s thanks to Northstar-at-Tahoe’s more than 100 mountain bike trails. While riders of all ability levels can find fun and challenging trails, Northstar shines as a destination place for riders looking to take their two wheels into the sky. Featuring hundreds of jumps, banked turns and ultra-steep and rocky downhills, come here if you want to experience the new wave of mountain biking. And, unless you’ve got your own downhill set-up, definitely rent a bike to save yours. Check out some videos here! Or visit www.northstarattahoe.com
Getting there: From Interstate 80 exit Highway 267/Lake Tahoe. Turn left at the second light into Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort.

10 great trails/trail areas
South Shore
1. Kingsbury to Spooner
2. Kirkwood Mountain Resort
3. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
4. Powerlines
North Shore
5. The Flume
6. Hole in the Ground
7. Sawtooth Ridge Trail
8. Emigrant Trail
9. Northstar-at-Tahoe
10. Animal House


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