Road biking from Boca to Stampede

Photos & story by Tim Hauserman  ·


stampede reservoir

Keep your eyes open for osprey, eagles and American white pelicans at Stampede.

Looking for a great 2-hour ride? Then, jump on this fun, 24-mile route that takes you through lush meadows, along a sparkling river, and past two reservoirs, all on a lightly traveled road.

The ride begins at the Boca Dam parking lot. From Truckee, take Interstate 80 about 6 miles east to the Hirschdale Exit. At the stop sign, turn left, cross the Truckee River and railroad tracks, then park above Boca Reservoir on your left.

stampede reservoir

The ride to Stampede includes a moderate downhill.

Easy rolling with views
The first mile is easy rolling as you ride above Boca, watching boats crisscross the water while you pass a campground. As the reservoir ends, the road hugs the bustling Little Truckee River, before a quick climb brings you to a large, open meadow and you ride into Sierra County.

A parking lot on your left is a popular spot for fly-fishers, who walk across the meadow and locate secluded pools to fish. You exit the meadow with a steady climb, followed by a moderate downhill to the bottom of the Stampede Dam, where parking provides access to the river.

Short, steep climb
Next, comes the steepest climb of the route, fortunately just a few hundred yards, bringing you to a junction at the 7-mile mark, where you have two options: Turn left and drop down to Stampede Dam, then along the shore to the boat launch where you turn around, or add a few miles, by going straight at the intersection and ride through Hoke Valley to where the pavement ends.

The first option is an 18-mile round trip, if you do both, it’s about 24 miles. I like to head for Hoke first, quickly finishing the climb and then enjoying a long. gentle downhill to the valley, before a short climb to the end of the road.

Hopefully, you will not encounter what I did on this section once – a naked Santa riding a bicycle. While apparently he left the house before remembering to put on his clothes, he did remember to don his Santa hat.

little truckee river

Enjoy the scenery along the Little Truckee River.

Wildlife along Stampede
After turning around, head back to the Stampede junction, and descend to the dam crossing. Watch for osprey, eagles and American white pelicans, which all can be found around Stampede. Just across the dam, a small parking lot on your right has restrooms and an overhanging viewing platform. It’s another 2 miles of riding, often with views of Stampede, to the boat ramp and more restrooms, where you turn around. Since you’ve already rode through Hoke Valley and there is more down then up on the way back, the ride back to the Boca dam is a breeze.

Ride tips
This ride is best done midweek. Why? The primary users are campers and folks launching boats into Stampede Reservoir, with weekend use being the heaviest. While, in general, vehicle traffic is light, the road can feel a bit narrow when both you and a few trailers are on the road at the same time. Keep that in mind and stay close to the right edge at all times.

The best time of day to ride? Between 10 a.m. and noon. The fisherman are up early and are already on the lake by 10 a.m., and the winds come up in the afternoon, which means that if you are out too late, you will be fighting a headwind as you struggle back to your car.

Another option is the early evening. By then, the winds have died down and the campers are hunkered down finishing their burgers and getting ready to roast the marshmallows.