Tahoe Mountain Biking? I had been to Lake Tahoe several times.
In the early 80’s to ski, and more recently to coach my school’s girls basketball team in summer tournaments. But all that happened way before mountain biking became my passion.
First a few interesting facts. The name Tahoe comes from a mispronunciation of the Washoe Native American name for Lake Tahoe,
“da” “ow” “a” “ga,” which means, “edge of the lake.”
Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake in North America, and is the USA’s second deepest lake (Oregon’s Crater Lake is deeper by 900 feet … at 1,945 feet deep).
Lake Tahoe is known for the clarity of its water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides … and it is in these surrounding mountains where we find most of Tahoe’s Mountain Biking.
I had heard a lot about Tahoe Mountain Biking, especially from Bob and Marnie,
two riders I’d met on the tremendous Wasatch Crest Trail in Park City, Utah.
They were from Dallas, Texas, but had ridden all over the world.
They claimed Tahoe’s Flume Trail was one of (if not the most) spectacular trails they had ever ridden.
Usually when I plan to ride in a new area I go straight to a local bike shop as soon as we arrive.
I tell the shop guys what kind of trails I am looking for and ask which ones they recommend.
I planned on using this same strategy again this trip, but thought I might go to the MTBR forums and ask for opinions. I already had input from Bob and Marnie, but I wanted to learn about Tahoe Mountain Biking, some of the other trails.
Not more than 1 hour after I’d posted on the forum I got a response. A guy named “Wherewolf” gave me a whole list of rides.
I messaged him back asking him to rate them so I would know which 3 to ride.
This time, though, I also asked him if there was any way he could do some of these Tahoe Mountain Biking rides with me (I always like to ride a new area with someone who knows the trails.)
Nate Porter, a former baseball player of mine, had acted as my guide in Grand Junction two weeks previous. I figured the Wherewolf lived in Tahoe and might want to do his usual rides with someone new.
I was a little surprised when I learned the Wherewolf lived 3 hours from Lake Tahoe.
He said he had wanted to do a ride he’d done many times before … but he also wanted to tack on a newly built trail at the end.
He said we would have to ride the first part on an even day as the trail was so popular it was only open to bikers on even days. He questioned whether I would be able to do a 30+ mile ride.
I assured him I would be able to finish the ride and so we planned on doing the ride on Saturday, August 18th.
Our communications were kind of spotty as I was already taking a vacation in Twin Lakes, where cell phone service is non-existent and the Wi-Fi just a shade better.
We finally decided to meet at the Tahoe Denny’s, at 6:00 am, on August 18th.
Cindy and I were a little early and were waiting in the foyer when a tall, thin man dressed in bike riding clothes slipped through the door and mumbled some kind of comment to us.
As he approached the “Please wait to be seated” sign he looked back, as if to see if we had followed.
Only at that point was I convinced this man was Steve Wolf.
I stepped forward and asked if he was indeed the Wherewolf … and he confirmed.
Steve and the hostess/ waitress immediately started to chit chat as she showed us to our table, making us feel he visited quite often.
I thought it strange that the woman would know him since he lived 3 hours from Lake Tahoe.
I think that was when I realized how many times Steve partook in Tahoe Mountain Biking.
While eating our breakfast Steve told us some very interesting facts about himself.
A couple that really stood out in my mind were; the fact that he had had both knees replaced, he was afraid of sheer heights, he didn’t ride switchbacks, and he had terrible balance.
I knew he was a professor of Botany (Stanislaus University) from his emails but I never realized he was 63 years old.
This 63 year old guy with artificial knees had been worried that I would not be able to keep up with him? He had to be kidding!
Well … he wasn’t … and there were a couple of times when I had to dig deep to keep up with him during the ride. His strength was definitely endurance.
Steve Wolf turned out to be quite an interesting person. You can learn more about him when you read about the day we shared … just click Tahoe Meadows, the first leg of the ride.
The map below shows the trailheads for the Tahoe Mountain Biking rides I completed and feel worthy of a Story Page. By clicking on an icon you will get the name and location of the ride, an option to link to the ride’s Story Page.
Despite getting Steve’s ride recommendations I decided to get another opinion and went to Tahoe Sports, a huge store right next to the Heavenly Village in South Lake Tahoe.
There the worker explained that most of the good cross country trips involved riding on the Tahoe Rim Trail (or as he called it the TRT),
a 163 mile loop through the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe.
When I told him about my Tahoe Meadows to Van Sickle excursion he took a pen and drew two more Tahoe Mountain Biking rides on my map.
The first followed the TRT from the Stagecoach Lift (of Heavenly Valley Resort in Nevada) around the southeast side of
Monument Peak, past Star Lake, over Freel Peak Pass, through Armstrong Pass, across Freel Meadows, and on to Big Meadow, a 23 mile ride.
Then I could either call Cindy to pick me up in Big Meadow, or I could ride back into town.
To learn all about this ride … and … to find out how I was “talked out of” finishing the full trip, please see Tahoe Rim Trail … Stagecoach to Monument Pass.
The other ride the Tahoe Sports worker proposed was a journey on the TRT from Big Meadow to a place called Dardanelles Lake, then continue to where the TRT intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).
I would then have to backtrack as mountain biking is strictly forbidden on the PCT.
He said Dardanelles Lake was spectacular and the swimming was great.
He mentioned a rock cliff that lay just under the water causing the swim to be unusually warm.
I never did make it to Dardenelle’s Lake that trip. A fellow I met on the trail recommended a trail was called Stanford Rock, which I eventually found just south of Tahoe City.
The highlight of the Stanford Rock ride was climbing Twin Peaks,
a mountain or “mountains” rising to 8,872 feet above Lake Tahoe.
I rode to the base of the peaks, stashed my bike, and picked my way through the rubble to the top.
The views of the entire Lake Tahoe area were incredible!
While standing on Stanford Rock a rider approached from behind me. I later learned his name was “Paco”, and he was from North Lake Tahoe.
He said there were many good Tahoe Mountain Biking rides on the northwest side of the lake, near Brockway Summit. I told him that Stanford Rock was my last ride in Tahoe that trip, but some day I would return.
I must return! For I still want to do that stretch from Armstrong Pass to Big Meadow, and the Dardenelle’s Lake ride. I will ride the stretch of the TRT where it parallels the Flume Trail on its way to Marlette Peak.
And yes, some day will take the Saxon Creek Trail through the stretch called “Mr. Toads.” And then there is Meeks Creek Trail too …
Yes, I am going to return for more Tahoe Mountain Biking … and the sooner the better!!