Rolling good time on new Beaver Tail Trail

Courtesy Tahoe Fund

Among fanfare and a ribbon cutting, the newly christened Beaver Tail Trail opened in Kings Beach on July 12. The new single-track flow trail emphasizes rolling, banked turns and switchbacks to make for a fun mountain bike ride, without much climbing. I took a quick run over the trail and with the exception of one steep drop that I decided to walk, a few places where I lost the trail and two out-of-control dogs nipping at my tires, it was an awesome ride.

Check out the map for the new trail.

The trail begins off of Beaver Street in Kings Beach. It’s easily accessible to folks in Kings Beach at the top of the town’s downtown grid. I started riding from Steelhead Avenue and found a pretty good climb through the neighborhood before reaching the end of pavement on Beaver Street. The climb then continues uphill on dirt road for another half mile before the Beaver Tail heads off on the left — and most of your climbing is complete.

Immediately Beaver Tail lives up to its billing as a flow trail. It’s an exhilarating single track with lots of sweeping, rolling turns and extra bumps thrown in for fun. While I don’t really like technical trails, for the most part this trail is very doable for anyone with decent bike handling skills. There was one short drop off a rock that surprised me, but I held on.

Then I met a junction near a creek crossing. Both potential routes looked like nice single track, so I really had no idea which way to go until I pulled up a map of the route on my phone. This led me to cross the creek, which was rushing water about 6 inches deep. You could probably ride it, but I scampered across on a log instead. Once across, another unsigned junction appeared. I picked wrong first heading uphill, but then recovered and took a left turn and headed back down alongside the creek.

This section close to the babbling creek was scenic and a blast with quick ups, downs and turns until — “Whoa, Nellie” — there was a big drop. Some great trail building created a smooth 10-foot drop that would certainly be rideable for a more skilled rider. Perhaps, once I’m more familiar with the trail, I will ride it. This time I decided to walk it. Hey, I need my brain to write, so I better keep it in my helmet.

The new Beaver Trail has opened above Kings Beach. | Tim Hauserman

After that it was some more rolling and a few bumps added by the trail builders before the trail ends with an option of heading uphill on an older trail or heading downhill slightly before a dirt access road that goes to the end of Commonwealth Drive. The new trail is only about 1 mile, but it’s an enjoyable ride that just about every rider should be able to ride successfully. It also connects to a host of other trails in the area. I would strongly recommend starting from Beaver Street as opposed to Commonwealth Drive; it is mostly downhill from Beaver Street and the trail is designed to flow downhill.

The trail was constructed by the U.S. Forest Service, North Tahoe Public Utility District and Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA), which held more than a half dozen trail-building days to make it happen. Funding came from Truckee Tahoe Airport and Tahoe Fund. The plan is that this trail will be the start of a network of trail improvements planned for the area. In addition to helping finance the trail, Tahoe Fund purchased 20 bikes to be used by the Boys & Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. A group of kids were on those bikes at the trail’s unveiling.

While we may look at it as an enjoyable ride, the Forest Service has found that flow-trail designs reduce the amount of erosion — in this case into Griff Creek, which flows into Lake Tahoe. The design allows the water to shed off the trail without creating rivers of dirt following the fall line into the creek. Flow trails are the design of choice these days.

In the last few years, TAMBA built Ocelot and the Lakeview Ridge, flow trails which are now a popular part of the network of trails that fan out from Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City. Also, The Corral Trail in South Lake Tahoe started the flow trail trend and is now perhaps the area’s most popular trail.

The name Beaver Tail was chosen by popular vote. Three potential names were selected as the most popular and Beaver Tail was the resounding favorite in an online poll, garnering 560 votes in just a few days.

If you are living or staying in Kings Beach and have a free hour to explore on your mountain bike, this trail is a great way to spend that hour. With more time you can explore other trails in the area or head on up to the top of Beaver Street for a second lap. |