Mountain Biking options many at Tahoe |

Mountain Biking options many at Tahoe

William Ferchland

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Dave Carneggie, 65, left, and Joe Summerhill, 15, ponder their trail choices from the top of Kirkwood Resort.

The snow melted awhile ago, giving way to the lazy dirt paths and Sierra scenery Dave Carneggie has come to embrace while riding his mountain bike.

On Saturday the 65-year-old retiree was with some youths from his Christmas Valley neighborhood marveling at a 35-yard burst of columbine and Indian Paintbrush wildflowers “that wouldn’t quit” while at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.

Kirkwood, known for its winter-time staples of deep snow, challenging terrain and small-town tranquility, has a budding recognition of having a mountain bike park worth checking out.

Chris Eckert will be the first to tell you Kirkwood’s park isn’t in the same realm as the monsters at Northstar-at-Tahoe or Mammoth Mountain, both of which transform a portion of their land into jib parks for off-road peddle pushers.

Eckert, a resort manager who oversees Kirkwood’s mountain bike park, said the park is a work-in-progress, an ongoing experiment.

“We’re kind of just playing it by ear to be honest,” he said.

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This year a trio of logs were added to the bottom on Chair 1, one of two ski lifts that operate on the summer weekends. The other lift is Chair 2, which, in the winter, parallels the resort’s insane snow park.

The chairs take riders to six miles of dirt roads and about eight miles of single tracks.

A $20 adult all-day lift ticket needs to be purchased for Saturday and Sunday rides utilizing the chairs. Tickets for children 12 years old and younger are $15.

Lift-access rides are scheduled to run until Sept. 5.

Monday through Friday rides, when the two chairs sit still and silent, are free.

“It doesn’t cost you anything except a little bit of sweat,” Eckert said.

On average 30 to 40 people use the park each weekend day, Eckert said.

Trails area designated like they are in the winter: green circles for beginners, blue squares for intermediates and black diamonds for advanced riders. Service roads and single tracks serve as the trails.

Carneggie kept to the more easy trails, encountering hikers, falling once. It aligned with the adage used on Saturday’s ride of “No pain, no gain,” Carneggie said.

In a different group, Paul Amundson, 13, was experiencing his first time riding the resort on two wheels.

“It was awesome. The terrain is super good,” Amundson said, noting he was mindful of not biffing.

“Well I couldn’t afford to crash because I have hockey coming up soon but I almost crashed,” added the South Lake Tahoe resident but Minnesota native.

While a high-speed quad is being installed at Chair 7, the addition of the chair could provide lift access for mountain bike riders at the Timber Creek area next summer, Eckert said.

“There’s always huge potential with the new high-speed (quad),” he said.

Amundson would like to see Chair 3 open for mountain bikers. Chair 3 is on the backside of the mountain, connecting to the top of Chair 2.

Eckert said people who enjoy for mountain biking should have patience.

“It’s only been a couple years. We’re just taking it slowly and seeing what we can do,” he said.


Info on Kirkwood Mountain Resort’s mountain bike park:

The mountain bike park is open throughout the week but two lifts run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends.

Day tickets are $20 for adults $15 for juniors. Full-suspension and front-suspension bikes are available to rent on a half-day and full-day basis. Prices are $30 for a half-day and $40 for an all-day on a full-suspension bike. Hard tails, or front-suspension bikes, are available to rent at $30 all-day or $20 for a half-day.

The resort’s main line is (209) 258-6000.

Other notable resorts known for their focus on mountain biking in the summer are Northstar-at-Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain.

Northstar, on Tahoe’s north shore, offers bike rentals and lifts to attack the more than 100 miles of trails. The park is open Sunday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturdays the park stays open until 5 p.m.

After Sept. 5, the park will reopen on Sept. 9 and run from Fridays to Sundays until it closes Oct. 9.

For more information, call (530) 562-2268.

Mammoth is about three hours from South Lake Tahoe down Highway 395. It boasts 80 miles of single-track trails and ski-lift access.

Mammoth’s number is 1-800-MAMMOTH (626-6684)


Every sport has its slang but with all the equipment, crashes and nuances in the mountain bike culture results in a pairing of words and their altered definitions. Here is a short list of some good ones.

Bacon: scabs on a rider’s knees, elbows, or other body parts.

Biff: a crash

Bring home a Christmas tree: to ride (or crash) through dense bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike and helmet.

Captain crash: to “go down with the ship.” Usually the result of a novice spud-user failing to clip out in time

Cashed: to be too tired to ride any farther; bonked

Clean: to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing. “I cleaned that last section.”

Cloon: slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head, or a delay in the action. Term used in biking, skiing, and snow boarding

Corn dog: to become covered in silt, usually after a fall

Crotch-testing: sudden impact between a male rider’s private parts and something very hard and pointy, such as a handlebar stem or seat

Dab: to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a difficult section of trail. “I made it without crashing, but I had to dab once.”

Death cookies: fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every direction but the one you want to proceed in

Face plant: hitting the ground face first. “Joe hit a tree root and did a spectacular face plant.” Synonyms: auger, digger, soil sample, spring planting

First blood: credit to the first rider in a group who crashes and starts bleeding as a result

Kack: an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack can be the result of any injury receive during technical riding

‘rhoid buffing: going down a hill so steep that your butt touches the rear wheel

Single track: trail just wide enough for one person or bike

Skid lid: helmet

Tea party: when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and nobody seems to want to ride on

Vegetable tunnel: a single track that is heavily overgrown with foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it