Biking trails — easy and difficult — exist in abundance on Tahoe’s South Shore
August 4, 2016
Lake Tahoe has gained a lot of recognition as a cycling destination in recent years.
Features in national mountain bike media have highlighted the beauty and the quality of the area's trails. Pro riders have come to rip the berms, drops and jumps of the downhills. Amateur bikers have come for views like the Flume's world-class vantages. Premier stores like South Shore Bikes in South Lake Tahoe and Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City have also sprung up to support both locals and visitors.
Just like skiing in the winter, the region is developing a culture that revolves around biking. Apparently, the word is out: Lake Tahoe is a great place to ride.
SOUTH SHORE DIRT
One of the South Shore's most popular trails, Powerline is suitable for all ability levels. With no major climbs, the trail runs through the woods and meadows near Pioneer Trail. The smooth singletrack is an easy connector to some of the steeper downhill options, including Corral, Cedar and Cold Creek.
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Directions: Though there are many options to jump on and off Powerline, most people start off Saddle Road. Head up Ski Run Boulevard, turn right onto Saddle Road, continue until the dead end. A map kiosk marks the start of the trail.
Length: 6.5 miles
If you're looking for views, Tahoe Mountain is a spectacular medium-difficulty singletrack trail. The most challenging part is undoubtedly the climb. Some riders choose to skip that and shuttle to Tahoe Mountain Road. From here, the trail looks over the southeast side of the lake on one side and the Angora burn area on the other. Expect a handful of steep switchbacks and some fun rollers. Watch out for horses and hikers, as it's a multi-use trail.
Directions: Follow Lake Tahoe Boulevard past the "Y." Near Sawmill Pond, Tahoe Mountain Trail turns north and uphill from the bike path that runs along Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Length: 2.2 miles
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride / Saxon Creek Trail
This intense downhill is responsible for putting South Lake Tahoe on the mountain-bike map. The technical singletrack is littered with rock gardens, drops and swooping turns. It's fair to say this trail is not for beginning downhillers. You'll want full suspension and a finely-tuned technique to make it to the bottom.
Directions: Take Pioneer Trail towards Meyers. Turn left onto Oneidas Street. Continue onto the paved Forest Service road, Fountain Place Road. Park in the dirt parking lot on the right. Ride up the paved road to Armstrong Trail, which will connect to the top of Mr. Toad's. Do not try to ride up Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Length: 6 miles
Cold Creek Trail
Another top notch downhill singletrack on the South Shore is Cold Creek Trail. The trail starts with rolling berms and quick flat turns before dropping into more technical rocky areas and a few optional airs. This is not a beginner trail. Intermediate riders may want to walk a few sections. Because of the easy road access, locals will lap this route all day.
Directions: From Meyers, take Highway 50 east. Turn right on High Meadow Road. Follow the road to the top of the hill. Cold Creek Trail can be used to connect to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Length: 3 miles
Corral Area Trails
Likely the most popular zone for South Shore mountain bikers, the Corral Area has a variety of trails for all ability levels. Most downhill trails run parallel to a paved road, so shuttling is easy. Notice the groomed jumps and sturdy berms. Members of Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association have put a lot of work into these singletracks.
Directions: Take Pioneer Trail towards Meyers. Turn left on Oneidas Street. Continue onto Fountain Place Road. Just past the creek crossing, park in large dirt parking lot on the left.
Van Sickle Trail
This awesome new addition to the South Shore's MTB trail network provides a quick connection to the Tahoe Rim Trail for riders in the Stateline area. The 3.5-mile climb offers wide open views of the South Shore and East Shore of Lake Tahoe. Though not technically difficult, the climb is fairly steep.
Directions: From the "Y," take Highway 50 towards Stateline. Turn right on Heavenly Village Parkway. Continue into Van Sickle Bi-State Park. Parking will be on your left.
Length: 3.5 miles
Tahoe Rim Trail
The Tahoe Rim Trail is Lake Tahoe's marquee multi-use trail. Though not all of it is open to mountain bikers, a long section, stretching from Spooner Summit to Big Meadow, offers some amazing riding. Cyclists who want to ride the TRT need to either jump on a connector trail, like Van Sickle, or park at a spot where the trail intersects a highway. Make sure to check out http://www.tahoerimtrail.org for a full list of mountain bike regulations.
Directions: Many trails connect to the Tahoe Rim Trail from the South Shore. The TRT crosses Highway 50 at Spooner Summit and Highway 89 at Big Meadow.
Railroad Grade Trail
Looking for a short, mellow ride? The Railroad Grade Trail is perfect for beginners or those who just want a quick out-and-back pedal. The trail connects the Montgomery Estates neighborhood to the lower section of the Corral Trail, much of it along Trout Creek. On a hot day, take a break at one of the deeper pools to cool off.
Directions: From Meyers, head east on Pioneer Trail. Just before Sierra House Elementary, turn right on Marshall Trail. Take another right on Columbine Trail. Park at the dead-end.
Length: 1.6 miles.
SOUTH SHORE PAVED
Lake Tahoe's southeast is lined with long sandy beaches. And the best way to get to them is by bike. While traffic is snarled on Highway 89, the mellow Pope-Baldwin path whisks cyclists through old-growth Tahoe forests and aspen-dotted meadows. For stop-overs, there's everything from the Tallac Historic Site to Camp Richardson's famed ice cream shop.
Directions: The bike path officially starts near South Lake Tahoe's Pope Beach and runs parallel to Highway 89. There's plenty of parking along the highway or at the Pope Beach parking lot.
Length: 3.6 miles
Rabe Meadow Bike Path
On warm and sunny days, most Tahoe cyclists want to go one place — the beach. The Rabe Meadows Bike Path is an easy pedal from Stateline. The recently developed trail is a piece of what cycling advocates hope will one day be a path that links the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe. For now, it drops riders at the expansive sands of Nevada Beach.
Directions: From Stateline, head east on Highway 50. Turn left on Kahle Drive. Parking will be on your immediate right. Signage designates the start of the trail.
Length: 2.4 miles
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