Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail
The TRT section is open to mountain bikes only on even days.
If you were going to do only one ride in Tahoe - this is it!
The Tahoe Rim Trail is 168 miles circling Lake Tahoe along the ridges and mountaintops that form the Lake Tahoe Basin straddling the borders of northern Nevada and California. Much of the TRT is off limits for mountain bikers and signage alerts you to this. This ride uses only a portion of the TRT that is available to the MTB community. Be aware that this wilderness is habitat for Black Bears and Mountain Lions.
While the TRT portion of the ride is more technical and advanced in sections, the Flume Trail is ideal for the beginner to intermediate rider. Few, if any, will have the ability to peddle this entire ride without dismounting at some point, but nothing is too difficult to walk your bike through.
The views are stunning. The phrase "Shock & Awe" has probably been used more than once along this route. There's a viewpoint at 11.7 miles that will blow your socks off. Take it in, put your socks back on and continue down the trail... there is more to come!
Much of the ride is easy with a smattering of technical features that will keep even the most advanced rider on their game. The trail itself ranges from packed sand, loose sand, loamy/rooty forest to granite boulders and steps.
- A shuttle is required for this ride. There's a commercial service available and easily accessed at the Tunnel Creek Cafe.
- If you want to add some mileage and another descent, it's easy to continue on the Incline Flume Trail to end on the Tyrolean Downhill for a ride that totals nearly 30 miles.
Food and drink
Tunnel Creek Cafe is a convenient place to meet up and grab a coffee, beer or a meal before or after your ride.
Take a shuttle from the Tunnel Creek Cafe parking area (where the ride ends) to the drop off at the Tahoe Meadows Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead.
A morning start of this ride is often cool - a long sleeve or windshield is recommended. There are small light blue and white triangular Tahoe Rim Trail signs guiding your way throughout the ride, though they are few and far between.
At the shuttle drop off point as you face the wilderness with your back to the road, mount up and drop onto the trail to your right. You'll ride a very tight trail through the meadow that's covered in soft, dense vegetation. Be aware of small obstacles hidden from eyesight. A fragmented wooden boardwalk guides you into the woods. Look for the Tahoe Rim Trail signs directing you up and right onto the TRT after a quarter mile.
After the meadow, you'll encounter a 300-foot climb beyond which you'll enjoy many small climbs and descents. The trail is semi-technical through this section due to the many rock steps which can be frustrating to many. 9 miles of riding brings you to a four-way intersection.
Continue straight for another 5 miles. In this section, you'll encounter a torturous 900-foot climb with many... no... VERY many obstacles. The climb rewards you with an opening to another meadow with spectacular views at Marlette Peak. Here you'll find a couple hundred foot diversion to a viewpoint. Enjoy the view of Tahoe & Marlette Lakes. Continue back to the trail and descend 500 feet to Marlette Lake where you'll pick up the Flume Trail.
Ride Marlette Lake Road around Marlette Lake to the beginning of the Flume Trail. The road runs across a short section of the lake about a foot deep giving wet tires and brakes that can then prove for some difficult opening moves down sandy granite rocks.
After this though, the Flume Trail is mostly flat singletrack twisting along a steep mountainside dropping only 40 feet per mile. There is one very short rock slide area that you'll walk over that has a sign warning you of. Enjoy the ride, have lunch, take in the views. The Flume ends at a 3 mile 1500' descent down Tunnel Creek road to the Tunnel Creek Cafe. (Sure its a road, but the descent is quite fun with its many small dips and drops that can provide a thrill at speed).
It's over, sit back and enjoy a cold one. You have just ridden one of the best rides of your life!
Some of the information on this page has been sourced from:
36.219 km / 22.506 mi
629 m / 2,063 ft
1,382 m / 4,534 ft
2,686 m / 8,812 ft