The Tahoe Rim Trail is an incredible trail system which completely circles the Tahoe Basin area. Unfortunately about half of this trail system is set aside for hikers and horseback riders only. But the parts that are available to mountain bikers are exceptional trails of a rare caliber. Due to the elevation and the technical nature of these trails they are more suitable for riders who are confident in their abilities.
Over the summer of 2007 I spent a lot of time exploring the MTB legal sections of the TRT. It's an amazing trail with tons of incredible riding for all levels of riders.
On the east shore you have some great trails for beginning and intermediate riders, The local bike shops offer a shuttle to the top of Mount Rose which offer some great routes for beginning and intermediate riders. A little further south from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade is a great 14 mile section of the TRT which will challenge most intermediate riders. It can be ridden as a 25 mile out-and-back or you can just ride to South Camp Peak and back. The Spooner to Kingsbury section offers some really fun technical riding and some of the best views in Tahoe. I have a ride report from a Mt. Rose and Kingsbury Grade which can give you some idea of what to expect. I also have a much older ride report from Rose to Spooner Summit including some pictures and descriptions of the famous Flume Trail (much over rated).
On the South Shore is some of my favorite riding anywhere. Kingsbury to Star Lake and Freel Pass is a strenuous climb and generally a fast/ fun descent in the reverse direction. Advanced riders can challenge themselves to The Punisher, a route that goes from Kingsbury grade over Freel Pass to Saxon Creek, AKA Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. My favorite part of this trail is actually above Toads descending from Freel Meadow to Saxxon Creek. The descent is a flowy boulder strewn paradise of technical goodness.
The north shore of Tahoe is a little less familiar to me. Brockway Summit to Tahoe City is an excellent route and filled with some great views of Donner Summit and the Tahoe basin alike. Hopefully over the next year I'll get a chance to explore some of the great trails I've heard about on the North end of the Lake.
My Mt. Rose to Kingsbury Grade Video shows some significant sections of the Rim Trail : Hosted on Google Video
Punisher Plus - A brutal 40 mile route which goes from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade then over Freel Pass and all the way to Mr. Toads Wild Ride. This point to point route is enough to challenge most any rider. With over 6000' of climbing including a brutal climb of Freel Pass (9700') and tons of technical riding on the TRT and Toads this route is best for expert riders with lots of stamina.
Mount Rose to Marlett Peak - The Tahoe Rim Trail is a huge system that surrounds the entire Lake Tahoe Basin. Almost all the other rides in the basin touch the Rim trail in one way or the other. Much of this trail is rugged challenging singletrack which is suitable for advanced riders only.
A full 360 degree Panoramic shot from atop South Camp Peak, the highest point on the Spooner Summit - Kingsbury Grade leg of the route.
Working our way around the backside of Monument Peak this is approximately a 180 degree panoramic shot... the trail is fairly straight at this point.
Opposite where highway 89 Tees into Highway 88 there is a forest service road with some turn outs you can camp on. No services but the RV has everything we need. We arrived around 7PM and had a nice campfire going and took an evening walk to get acclimated to the elevation. This is the view of the sunset from our campsite.
Since we packed up the night before I'm up at 6AM, and the RV is rolling at 6:10. On the way to the meet place Hope Valley is shrouded in fog it's nice and cool out and the sky is clear, the weather forecast was 20% chance of T-Storms, no sign of storms and the weather was perfect all day. Just overcast enough to keep the temperature moderate and the rains the prior day had made the trails tacky.
Morgan taking pictures near the top of the climb up to South Camp Peak. South Camp Peak is the highest point in the first leg of our trip and is followed by some absolutely phenominal technical descending if you are headed south.
Steve on the last bit of trail up to South Camp Peak.
From the end of the Spooner -> Kingbury Grade section you take some surface roads for a few miles to Heavenly Ski Resort where you pick up the TRT again. We stopped at a small convenience store on the way and had a quick lunch.
Pictured: Jim on the climb up from Heavenly Ski Resort.
This little dude climbed on board Jeff's (TahoeBC) camelpack then moved to his jersey. He stuck on Jeff for at least 5 miles and quite a bit of climbing. For all I know he went home with him.
Jeff and Fast Eddy working their way around Monument Peak.
Ed enjoying the view from the Singletrack on the back side of Monument Peak.
Take a second to admire the amount of work that must have gone into building this trail. The Tahoe Rim Trail is one of the best engineered trails I've ridden on anywhere.
Kyle and Ed on the countour along the backside of Monument Peak.
Kyle is starting to feel all the climbing by the time we reach Monument Pass.
Taking a breather and looking ahead towards Jobs Sister (The peak on the far left of the image) and Freel Peak (the highest peak). Freel Pass, the highest point of the ride, is that small patch of snow just down and to the right of the peak.
Jim trying to keep dry on the shifty log crossing at the outlet to Star Lake.
Morgan tries a slightly different tactic for the crossing.
Near Freel Pass we're all starting to slow down.
Finally we make it Freel Pass. This is the highest point in the ride.
Pictured: Dennis (Ogre), Fast Eddy, Kyle (K-Max), Jim (jilm), Steve (Big Boulder), and Morgan... (Morgan). Unfortunately Jeff aka TahoeBC had to split before the rest of us got to this point.
The downhill from Freel Pass is fast, covered in loose decomposed granite and generally a lot of fun. Not my favorite downhill of the ride but still plenty entertaining.
After this the group started to smell the beer at the end of the ride and I didn't take any more pictures.