They had mountain biked in many different parts of the world yet recommended two places (other than the Wasatch Crest Trail). One was a trail skirting the base of some active volcanoes in Guatemala, and the other was Tahoe’s Flume Trail. I immediately put the Flume Trail on my list of “Must Do’s.”
The map below shows all the parts to this epic, 41.7 mile ride… including the Tahoe Rim Trail, the world famous Flume Trail, and the brand new Van Sickle Trail.
Please enjoy this interactive trail map. Click the icons for info on land-marks, both general and personal to this ride.
The ride he described was 40 miles long and included the Flume Trail. The Wherewolf also agreed to guide me through his favorite ride, which had begun at Tahoe Meadows (see Tahoe Meadows) earlier that morning. We had just finished the switchbacks near the end of the section of Tahoe Rim Trail coming south from Tahoe Meadows.
The Flume Trail offers a spectacular 4.4 mile ride along a ledge that had been blasted out of the side of the mountains that lay along the east side of Lake Tahoe. Since the Flume Trail was created on the side of a cliff there are few trees to block lines of sight. Panoramic views of Lake Tahoe abound.
In 1887 the flume conducted water from Marlette Lake along the mountain crest to a 3,994 foot tunnel which emerged on the east side of the mountain,
supplying water to Nevada gold and silver mining towns such as, Virginia City and Gold Hill. While I did see some pieces of 6 inch metal pipes along the way, I saw no evidence of any flume (or any gold or silver!)
In most places the trail was 6 feet wide, but sometimes due to erosion, only 18 inches. In some spots the trail was loose or cluttered with debris from recent landslides. Any kind of riding error would send a person tumbling off the 1,000 foot drop… causing at least severe injury and most probably… death! Several times we had to squeeze by bikers riding north opposite of us and others stopped on the trail for photos.
We eventually came to a spot where the trail narrowed to only 18 inches. The Flume Trail had experienced a landslide in that location the previous winter. Steve informed me this was the one place on the trail he would not ride. He had stated earlier in the day (at Denny’s) that he had an extreme case of acrophobia. I could see why that sheer stretch gave him trouble. So, naturally, I had to be the photo model.
I first rode across in the southern direction… heading away from Steve. He then requested that I ride toward him so he could get a shot of my face.
So, I turned around and headed north, right toward Steve. But just as I was about 5 feet away, I looked up to give Steve a big smile, and lost my focus on the trail. Suddenly the right end of my handlebars hit a rock jutting out from the cliff face and caused me to lose my balance. For a split instance I thought I might be going down the cliff… but my instincts took over and I was able to correct my steering and finish the stint. My adrenaline, and heart rate was at a peak when I stopped next to Steve. I said, “Wow, I almost crashed at the end… I lost my concentration and hit my handlebar on that rock.” Steve, also in an alarmed state, said, “That is exactly why I don’t ride that stretch!”
The southern part of the trail had several blind corners. Steve took the lead and showed me how to warn riders who may have been coming from the other direction. Right before he got to the blind corner he would sound a loud, high pitched, “Beep- Beep!” At first I found his behavior kind of comical… but the more I thought about it, I realized I was being my usual “immature self” (as Cindy says to me quite frequently). Actually Steve was using good judgment and a cheap safety device, his voice.
I broke the silence when I whispered to Steve, “Why are all these riders here?” Steve said most likely all of these people had come up from Spooner Lake where they had rented bikes. They were either getting ready to ride the Flume Trail or they had just finished it, like we had.
We each ate a little snack and started south, along the shore of Marlette Lake … heading for the trail and road that would lead us to Spooner Lake, our next stop.
Click Tahoe Mountain Biking to see an overview of all the rides in this area.