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North Lake Tahoe Mountain Biking Trails

So many trails zig-zag throughout the north shore of Tahoe that we can only list a few of our favorites here. If you are coming to Lake Tahoe for a short trip, this is our short list.

mountain bike rider

Tahoe Rim Trail at Tahoe Meadows
Rim Trail is a very popular destination due to its mixture of speed, technical features, and panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley. The required skill level is not too high, so beginner mountain bikers are able to ride the trail safely. It is named after the long portions of the trail that go along a ridge with views of both sides of the crest.

Please note that this trail is only open for mountain bikers on even-numbered days of the month. Hikers are allowed on the trail every day and fortunately problems between these two groups are not common. If you want to avoid hikers and other bike riders, it is recommended to ride early in the morning when there is less traffic on the trail. Beware of traffic from both directions, as mountain bikers and hikers go in both directions on the trail. The round trip route offers a good selection of different views for each direction.

The trail begins at Tahoe Meadows, and the first 2 miles start out with mild climbing. After this, the trail gets into some switchbacks and a few rock steps over the next five or so miles. Surrounding views will appear during most of the ride and start showing up during the first few miles. When you reach the crest you will find excellent panoramas of Washoe Valley, Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe.

After about 9 miles the trail reaches Tunnel Creek Road, at which point multiple trails branch out. All of these trails will lead you to Highway 28 where you can turn around and go back on the trail itself or ride up Mount Rose Highway to return to the main trailhead.

You can get to the trailhead by parking 1 mile south of Mount Rose summit on Highway 431. Parking is free along the shoulder of the highway.

Flume Trail
No Lake Tahoe Mountain biking trip is complete without a ride down the Flume Trail, the trail that gets featured in more mountain biking magazines than any other ride in the area. This is due to its fantastic vistas present throughout the trail. As a result of this popularity, there is unfortunately a fee for accessing the trail via the state park and Rangers do spot checks often.

Unlike the Tahoe Rim Trail, this ride is for the intermediate and above crowd. For the ascent there are some steep climbing sections, including some climbs in sandy conditions. It is highly recommended that mountain bikers only ride this if they are in good shape.

Further up the trail you approach narrow singletrack that takes you along edges of the mountain with 1,000 foot drops below and great views of Lake Tahoe.
After this, the trail continues along a fire road for a few miles and drops you into Incline Village where you can ride back up the highway to your car, have someone shuttle you back up or pay for the shuttle service.

Check out this trail that least once while in Lake Tahoe, it is worth it for the views alone.
Also note that there are many other free trails in the area that are comparable in quality.

Brockway Summit to Martis Peak
This 5 mile cross-country mountain bike climb leads you to Martis Peak, with views from the top of Lake Tahoe and surrounding peaks. The difficulty is moderate to strenuous with an elevation change of 1500 feet. To get to the trailhead at Martis Peak Rd, take 267 N. from Kings Beach to the Brockway Summit. Parking is available at .5 miles past the summit on Forest Service Rd 18N02.

Northstar at Tahoe
This ski resort offers lift access to tons of trails, an experience well worth it if you love riding downhill or would like a little less climbing. The trails are maintained well and Northstar hosts a number of race series every year. Check out their website for more information and trail maps.

These are only a few of the many trails you can ride all over North Lake Tahoe. If you want to explore further, we recommend getting the book “Mountain Biking Northern California” by Roger McGehee or any other Lake Tahoe/Northern California mountain biking trail book that features endless places to ride with extensive descriptions and instructions.

Lodging Info
If you are looking for lodging on your mountain bike trip to Tahoe, check out these Luxury Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals.

You can also find region specific rentals here:
Luxury South Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals
Luxury North Lake Tahoe Vacation Rentals