This past Sunday I met up with a couple of my fellow colleagues from Twelve Horses, and rallied up to the Lake Tahoe Basin for a little mountain bike ride.
We selected the 23 mile loop that takes you from Mount Rose Meadows, out along the Tahoe Rim Trail, around Marlette Lake, back on the Flume Trail, and down Tunnel Creek Road to Ponderosa Ranch.
It is a truly world class ride with beautiful vistas, technical moves, and varying terrain. There are several log rides, boulder problems, and big rocks to boost off of if you are so inclined. Additionally, there is a perfect balance of cross country and uphill riding to make you feel like you got a good workout, but plenty of payoff when you come to the downhill sections.
The ride does require a shuttle, and it is best to leave a car just outside of Incline Village at the Ponderosa Rach. Drop the car, don’t forget to leave a cooler of beer, and drive up to Mt Rose Meadows to begin.
I like starting at the upper parking lot near the campground to get some initial fun downhill through the meadows. Cross the stream and proceed up through the forest to the ridge. From there you are greeted with excellent views of Lake Tahoe and a really fun rolling trail that throws several intricate maneuvers and granite obstacles in your way to keep you interested.
Proceed onward and you eventually come to the saddle junction that takes you either to Tunnel Creek, the Flume Trail, or Marlette Lake. Stay high and left to continue to Marlette. You will pass by an intermittent lake to your right, and then you will almost immediately begin to climb, climb and climb.
The trail eventually evens out and soon you come to a panoramic view of Marlette Lake cut into the earth with the backdrop of Lake Tahoe glueing it all together. Some fun downhill begins here, follow the little blue Rim Trail signs, and you eventually dump out onto a dirt road that take you all the way around Marlette to the Flume Trail located on the other side.
The Flume is famous and rightfully so. The fact that it was chiseled out of the side of steep cliff faces by the pioneers of Lake Tahoe, for the original purpose of transporting water, gives it not only a historical feel but also a gravitational pull. You can’t help but feel that pull in places where the trail drops off dramatically just to the left of your front wheel.
The Flume eventually joins up just below the saddle junction that I discussed earlier, and this is where you take Tunnel Creek Road to the car. Tunnel Creek tempts you to go fast, but there are a couple of things to think about. First, there are deep sand traps and speed bumps to be careful of, and secondly, day hikers and other bikers are often coming up the trail. So be careful and respectful.