Ride Log - Tahoe Rim Trail to Flume Trail
The Flume Trail is ranked #1 in Nevada, #1 in Lake Tahoe, and #15 in the United States, according to MTB Project, my bible. And naturally, as a native-Californian who lives 3.5 hours away from Lake Tahoe, I had never been on it before. Technically, the trail’s in Nevada, so I’ll give myself a pass this time.
I realize I am extremely privileged in that respect though, since I have extraordinary parents who work very hard to allow me to have such an amazing experience. My dad planned a trip to Incline Village for all three of us to ride the Tahoe Rim Trail from Tahoe Meadows all the way to the famous Flume Trail and back down again.
Setting out from my parents’ friend Doug’s place in Truckee, Ca, we drove around the lake towards the Nevada stateline. Crystal blue flashed through the pine trees as we snaked along highway 28 until we arrived at Flume Trail Bikes.
With coffee from Tunnel Creek Cafe in our bellies, we boarded the shuttle heading to Tahoe Meadows. Once we arrived and unloaded our bikes, we followed a gentle trail through the meadow and into the woods until we were navigated upwards to the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). The smell of pine and dirt was more than welcoming.
I finally reached the top of a 300 ft steady climb to be rewarded with an overlook of the icy Tahoe blues shining back at me. After savoring “the views”, we carried on to find flowy, slightly rocky and very sandy trail riding. This was honestly some of the best trail riding I’ve seen. And the trail bliss carried on for about 7 miles.
The most challenging section was a steady climb with switchbacks that seemed to carry on for ages. Nonetheless, we pushed onwards. We knew we would be rewarded again soon enough.
Once we reached what seemed to be the highest point of the trail section we were on, we saw a slight detour off to the right of the trail. Now, I saw the word “viewpoint” and I simply couldn’t resist. We did a bit of back-and-forth before inevitably forcing ourselves and our bikes upwards. We reached a 21% maximum grade and added on another 300 ft (all in 1 mile) of climbing.
It was absolutely worth it.
We sat atop rocks dangling dangerously close to a sheer drop off and savored the view of Sand Harbor while enjoying our raw energy bars. It’s one of my best memories. Moments like this are why I mountain bike. You certainly earn your keep.
Finally, we made our way back onto the TRT. Just as I was thinking it couldn’t get any better, we approached the Flume Trail.
At the trailhead, a sign posting warned us of narrow trails, landslides, and steep drop offs. Really, the trail is quite tame if you ignore the steep drop off to the side of the trail.
I would’ve been quite happy simply riding along this trail without stopping. Despite my initial protests to the “photoshoot” Doug and my mum insisted upon, I’m really glad we took a moment to capture this trail. Stop to smell the roses, so to speak.
What’s interesting is, we didn’t run into anyone else on the Flume Trail. It could’ve been the time of day as we were out quite late, but it was a rare privilege.
I loved every second of being on that trail.
And so we took our time, spending nearly an hour moseying along, making the most of the jaw-dropping photo opportunities.
Once we’d ridden the Flume Trail, we carried on down a downhill fireroad. Dad and I enjoyed racing down the dusty doubletrack. One of these days, I’ll beat him…or at least come close.
We arrived back at the truck close to 7pm. That’s the thing about adventuring with the Tabrett’s - You’ll certainly make a day of it - especially since we’re usually late to start. Rounding out the day with a burger and fries from Burger Me in Truckee, I was a happy rider.
Now, if anyone asks me about mountain biking Tahoe, there is one trail I will recommend - and that’s the historic Flume Trail in all its glory.