There is a huge system of trails in the Tahoe Basin area, and perhaps the most popular mountain biking destination is the the Flume Trail. The Flume Trail offeres spectacular views of the Lake and the surrounding basin from 1000' above the shoreline. The biggest downfall of the trail is it's popularity. Because of the thousands of visitors every year the trail is well groomed and covered with a base of loose gravel which makes traction questionable at times. On weekends there is also a lot of traffic on the trail which takes away some of it's appeal.
Update: Check out Steve's Impressions of the ride, he has a little less cynical attitude about the place since he didn't have a near death experience :). There are also some cool videos posted on his site of this ride.
I wanted to piece this together while the memory is still fresh and the wounds still raw. Steve and I decided to make a Tahoe trip this weekend and the plan was to shuttle to Mt. Rose and ride The Rim Trail with the possibility of doubling back down the Flume Trail. Unfortunately the fates intervened and we didn't get the ride that I expected.
After a pricey, mediocre breakfast at Mary Calendars we hit the road. We met the shuttle at Spooner Lake at about 9:30 AM, loaded up the bikes along with 13 other folks and headed (slowly) up the hiway. The trailhead at Mount Rose had decent if stinky bathrooms but no drinkable water that I could see.
firstname.lastname@example.org -=- August 26th 2003
Shoulda went to the SouthSide Cafe for breakfast. Nice diner-style breakfast, on Virginia Street. Calendars 'bites'
The Rim Trail (From Mt. Rose - Tunnel Creek)
The weather was beautiful as we set out and I was glad that I had left my arm and leg warmers in the car. Of the 15 people who were on our shuttle there were about 12 men and 3 women of mixed experience levels. Steve and I started a little slowly because he needed to set up the helmetcam, so right off the bat we were slowed down by a group of about 5 riders who were inexperienced and going pretty slow.
As you get started there is a short downhill run through a meadow, then you hit some forested areas and start to climb for a while. As you climb the steps I mentioned earlier become more frequent and irritating. I like a challenging trail but this was reminiscent of hopping curbs in the city. The first creek crossing consisted of a 12" rock curb, about 5' of creek, and another 12" curb up on the far side. I tried to ride it but dropping down into the creek killed my momentum and I couldn't get over the curb on the far side (wet shoe).
Many people rave about how great the Tahoe trails are, but personally I feel they are a bit contrived. Most of the hazzards were man made erosion traps and steps to prevent trail decay. Generally these were navigatable but some in combination were difficult and had to be walked. Waterbars and erosion control are necessary parts of any trail but here they seemed overdone. The overall feel of the trail throughout the ride was very parklike.
After the creek crossing the trail becomes a lot nicer and starts to wind in and out of trees and large boulders. This section was very enjoyable, but had a vaguely citified feel to it. For about a mile or two you climb up to the top of the ridge. At this point if you are not used to the altitude you are probably sucking wind a bit due to the thin air but when you get to the ridge top you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the lake and the basin as a whole. As a bonus there is some sweet singletrack downhills as you curve down between boulders and trees and over semi-natural hazzards down to the Flume Trail.