Mountain biking near Lake Tahoe

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of April 17-23, 1997
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Mountain biking near Lake Tahoe

Mountain biking near Lake Tahoe
Question: We are interested in mountain biking around Lake Tahoe in early September. Do you have any suggestions? Or perhaps you can suggest another beautiful area to ride in. We have looked at mountain-biking tours in Bryce and Moab, but would prefer to sleep and shower in an inn rather than camp. We would also prefer some flexibility in activities such as being able to run and perhaps swim, rather than being committed to just biking.

Bombay, India

Adventure Adviser: Only 20 miles of Lake Tahoe's 72-mile shoreline has a paved bike trail; the other 52 miles you'll be highway riding, dodging down-and-out gamblers and wandering tourists. But don't let this scare you. If you have a car, you can drive from trailhead to trailhead and find biker heaven — everything from gently undulating paved trails that wrap parts of the lake to cliff-hugging singletrack. But keep in mind that this is a mountainous area and if you aren't used to biking at altitude (6,000 to 9,000 feet), you're going to be sucking for air.

The five paved sections around the lake range in length from 2.5 to 9 miles (one-way). Most of these trails meander past beaches with lakeside picnic tables where you can stop for a leisurely lunch.

When it's time to call it a day choose between cooking over a campfire or crawling into a plush king-size bed after a five-course meal. One B&B suggestion is the Cottage Inn (800-581-4073) in Tahoe City, at the north end of the 9-mile West Shore Bike Path. The hunting-lodge-turned-upscale-resort is quite cozy. Or try the Shore House in Tahoe Vista, where you'll be served wine and cheese after a day of hard riding or jogging or tennis-playing or swimming (800-207-5160). For a complete list of lodging options, from mega-resort to rustic cabin-in-the-woods, call the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority at 800-288-2463.

High-adrenaline note: If you're an experienced and in-shape biker, you can't miss the 17-mile one-way Flume Trail. If heights freak you out, don't bother with this ride because at one point you'll be navigating the edge of a 1,500-foot drop-off. The trail begins on the east side of Lake Tahoe at Spooner Lake parking lot in Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park (702-831-0494).

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