As many visitors notice, literally everything has “Tahoe” in its name. From restaurants to stores to ski resorts and even a mountain. While not the biggest or most striking, Tahoe Mountain on the South Shore offers up incredible mountain biking terrain that most people whiz right by.
Serenity from the crowds
Compared to the better known trail networks in the area, Tahoe Mountain Loop is rarely talked about. It doesn’t have the steepest, longest or easiest trails. What it does have with no argument is elbow room and close proximity to South Lake Tahoe. Couple that with unique views of Angora Ridge on one side and a birds-eye view of sandy beaches and Mount Tallac on the other and you have got yourself a fun adventure to embark on.
Tahoe Mountain Loop | 7 miles roundtrip | Moderate
Just past the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe, you’ll see a rolling hill ascending behind the intersection. With the other peaks such as Mount Tallac looming above, this little ridge line gets skipped by most eyes. While it might look small for mountain biking, it’s the perfect peak. Starting from South Tahoe High School, you’ll head to the right and begin the long slog up as it switchbacks on the north side of the peak. As you crest the ridge, pause for a moment and take in the view of the lake under the canopy of sugar pines and ponderosas.
Nearly 1,000 feet below, you’ll see cars whizzing by on State Route 89 toward Emerald Bay like little ants. To the right in the far distance, the tall skyscrapers of Stateline, Nev., seem tiny in comparison to the surrounding natural topography. Just behind the busy casino corridor lies the massive Heavenly Mountain Resort, which includes the legendary Gunbarrel trail, home to an 1,800-foot fall-line slope filled with moguls the size of VW bugs in the winter.
A plethora of options
As you pedal onward, the ridgeline gives you a bit of respite from the sun due to the canopy. After about 1 mile or 2 of rolling terrain, you’ll reach a right-hand curve with one more final push over to the south side of Tahoe Mountain. From here, you get unobstructed views of Meyers, Freel Peak and Christmas Valley. This is also where the fun starts. You can either continue on Tahoe Mountain trail or head onto Valley View.
Tahoe Mountain Loop offers amazing banked turns and a few boulders to ride over. Valley View is one step up when it comes to difficulty and its terrain is more suited to mountain biking, featuring a few more rock gardens, tasty banked corners and a couple of large and long log rides at the bottom. Both finish off with a full assortment of fast turns that flow through the remnants of what was the 2007 Angora Fire. If you parked at the high school, be sure to not miss the OHV road that intersects the trail. Make a left and then another left onto the paved bike path, which will help make it easy work to get back to the car.
When to visit
If you visit these trails in the summer, be sure to go early. Otherwise, under the mid-summer sun, you’ll be frying like an egg on scorching asphalt.
Tahoe Mountain Loop is perfect for late fall/early winter riding. With its mostly south aspects and minimal canopy, these routes lose their winter coat pretty early in the spring and get drenched in sunlight. This means even on the coldest days, these are a great option for those diehards who want to get a few miles of mountain biking in.
Where to park
This loop has multiple options on where to start. If you want to do the full loop (about 7.6 miles), I recommend parking at the high school and heading west on the single-track trail.
For those wanting to do a shuttle, park a car at the top of Tahoe Mountain on Deveron Way and head onto the trail by a sign that says Deveron Connector. After a short 10-minute ascent, you’ll end up at a Y where you can access Valley View (about 1.1 miles) or head a bit further to Tahoe Mountain Trail.
As we said earlier, this might not be the biggest, toughest or most famous mountain bike trail in Tahoe, but it does offer up serenity, one-of-a-kind views and most of all fun. So, be sure to whoop it up on Tahoe Mountain Loop. | alltrails.com