The esteemed Amgen Tour of California recently picked Lake Tahoe for its 2011 Stage 1 and Stage 2 legs. Although cancelled due to a fluke snowstorm, the Tour has successfully introduced the world to what locals have known for years – nothing beats biking in North Lake Tahoe.
Whether you’re tearing it up via a thousand dollar-plus road bike around Lake Tahoe’s scenic 72-mile shoreline, maneuvering the dirt tracks on a steep uphill to Twin Peaks on the West Shore or kicking it along Incline Village’s Lakeshore Drive with your toddler who has just graduated to training wheels, there is a trail especially for you.
For Lance Armstrong wannabes, locals recommend the Rainbow Bridge route.
“Hands down one of the best rides is from Truckee to Cisco Grove,” said Hardy Bullock, the Elijah Bleu’s race team captain. One of Truckee’s newest coffee shops, Elijah Bleu’s is just as serious about cycling as they are about their java.
“The climb along Old Highway 40 is famous for Rainbow Bridge built back in 1926, its spectacular views of Donner Lake and the 1,000-foot-plus climb,” said Bullock.
Named after an old water flume created in Tahoe’s heyday to provide lumber to Virginia City’s burgeoning silver mines, the Flume Trail is now geared for bikes.
“Lake Tahoe’s Flume Trail may be one of the best known mountain biking trails in the world – and for good reason,” said Max Jones, owner of Flume Trail Bikes, who offers guided tours of the trail, a shuttle service as well as rents bikes and nearby backcountry log cabins to bikers and hikers. “It’s a challenging single track with twists and turns offering up some of the best views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.”
But let’s not forget the kids. Families have long made up the majority of visitors heading to North Lake Tahoe every summer, and the region’s miles of car-free, paved trails makes it easy to enjoy a leisurely ride along the North and West shores.
“One of our most popular rides for families is along the scenic Truckee River from Tahoe City to Squaw V
alley USA, home of the 1960 Winter Olympic,” said Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “A convenient and entertaining lunch spot is River Ranch Lodge, right on the trail, as its outdoor patio overlooks the rafters disembarking from the river. The Olympic Rings at the entrance to Squaw Valley is a great photo opportunity and a nearby park has a fantastic soccer field.”
Tahoe’s guided biking services are also many and give visitors a chance to experience the area’s many and varied trails with professional guides who are also well versed in Lake Tahoe’s history, flora and fauna. Tahoe Adventure Company, based in Tahoe Vista and Truckee, offers one of the best combo excursions.
“Summer in North Lake Tahoe is about the trails and the water,” said Kevin Hickey, owner of Tahoe Adventure Company, who provides a one-day kayaking and mountain biking adventure. “Paddling in the morning along the boulders and hidden beaches of the East Shore and then riding on a downhill dirt trail that same afternoon might be one of the finest ways to experience all the region has to offer.”