Skip to Main Content

Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Trail Guide

Mountain biking was born in California, and the Lake Tahoe area has a long and storied history with mountain bikers. From historic mining trails to purpose-built flow, the mountain biking in Lake Tahoe is incredibly diverse. There are plenty of long, semi-technical singletrack rides, but the Tahoe area also has some of the longest sustained technical descents in California, as well as some of the best bike park riding in the state. And it’s all pretty easy to get to. Fly into Reno, or drive up from the Bay Area and sample some of the best riding you’ll find. At the end of the day, grab a burger and a beer at any one of the easily accessible restaurants and take a dip in the lake. Does it get better than this? We don’t think so. Because Tahoe has so much riding, use this guide as a starting point, we haven’t covered every trail in the area, but these are some of the best mountain bike trails in Lake Tahoe, as well as tips for food and lodging in the area.

 Total  Trails  500+  Difficulty  Beginner through Expert
 Total Distance  350+ miles  Local Advocacy Group  TAMBA

Popular Trails & Lake Tahoe Mountain Bike Trail Map

 
Lake Tahoe on Trailforks.com

Tahoe Rim Trail
Advanced | 165 Miles | 14,400' Elevation Change

 

We’ll start with the obvious one, the Tahoe Rim Trail. As the name suggests, this mountain bike trail circumnavigates the lake with 165 miles of singletrack. The rim trail has a little bit of everything, from smooth rolling terrain, to steep technical climbs and descents. Most riders choose to ride sections of the Rim Trail, as trying to bite off the whole thing in one trip requires very strong legs. So pick your section, and ride it as an out-and-back, or a shuttle. There are some sections of the trail that are closed to bikes. Some popular sections to ride are Flume, described below, Spooner Summit, and Mount Rose.

Flume Trail - IMBA Epic Route
Intermediate | 24 Miles | 3,838' Climb | 6,315' Descent

The Flume Trail is one of the most scenic and best mountain bike trails in the Tahoe region. There is quite a bit of climbing in the first four miles, but after that the trail winds through an alpine zone high above the lake, before plunging back down 1500 feet in the last 3 miles. The Flume Trail does have some exposed technical sections, so less confident mountain bikers should be prepared to walk their bikes. Make sure to bring a camera on this ride! Most people ride the Flume Trail as a shuttle.

 
Trailforks.com

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Advanced | 5 Miles | 2,586' Descent

This might be one of the most iconic mtb descents in Lake Tahoe. It’s steep, it’s rocky, it’s technical, and it’s long. The descent actually drops off of a portion of the Rim Trail, and descends a whopping 2,300 feet in 5.2 miles. This trail is technical out of the gate, with big boulder rolls and rock steps and drops. The final few miles of the trail are faster and flowier, but look out, there are still some technical sections that will sneak up on you. Most people ride this as a loop with sections of the Tahoe Rim Trail, which makes for an awesome ride, but a big day on the bike.

Corral
Intermediate/Advanced | 2.2 Miles | 650' Descent

Corral is a lot of locals’ after-work ride for good reason. It’s short (2.2 miles) but filled with fun and interesting features, including some rock rolls up high, and some jumps and berms at the bottom. You can climb up the trail, or ride or shuttle the road. Corral is one of those trails that leaves you laughing and grinning as you head up for another lap. Combine this with Armstrong, described below, for an all-time ride.

Armstrong Pass
Intermediate/Advanced | 6.5 Miles | 1,675' Descent | 460' Climb

Love Corral but looking for a longer day? Shuttle up to Armstrong Pass. Like Corral, you can shuttle most of this ride, but be ready for some hike-a-bike on steep switchbacks to get from the car to the top of the pass. From there you’re looking at 12 miles of flowing, technical riding that spits you out at the top of Corral. For trail riders, the Armstrong-Corral ride is a must-do.

Northstar Bike Park
All Abilities | 2,715' Vertical

Not looking to earn your turns? Head to Northstar. Located close to Truckee, Northstar has over 100 miles of mountain bike trails with something for everyone. Want to ride big jumps and berms? Northstar has plenty. Want to try your hand on some of the rowdiest trails in the Enduro World Series? Just hop on one of Northstar’s chairlifts. And for those just looking to ride and relax without climbing, Northstar has plenty of smooth intermediate and beginner trails.

South Yuba Trail
Advanced | 15 Miles | 6,675' Vertical

For something completely different, try the South Yuba Trail. Depending on how far you want to ride it, the South Yuba trail has about twenty miles of tight, technical singletrack along the Yuba River outside Nevada City. This one is not great for gravity groms or beginners, but experienced cross country riders looking for a challenge will love its unrelenting tech.


 
powered by Trailforks.com

Typical Weather & Riding Conditions

The Lake Tahoe area is typically warm and sunny all summer, with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s and very little rain. In other words, perfect riding conditions. The trails are mostly dry and sandy, with big rock features. The biggest limiting factor for early season rides is snowfall. If the area has had a big winter, the higher elevation trails don’t melt out till late June or July.

Where To Stay When Mountain Biking in Lake Tahoe

The biggest question when looking for lodging in Tahoe is where you want to ride. Because the lake is so big, it’s a good idea to pick a home base and stage out of it. There are plenty of beautiful campgrounds around the lake, just pick one near where you want to ride and make sure to book ahead of time. If you’re riding at Northstar, we recommend staying at the resort, it’s too convenient to pass up. For those riding in the South Lake area, there are plenty of hotel options. If you’re coming with a group and want something bigger than a hotel room, there are plenty of vacation rentals available all around the lake.

Where Mountain Bikers Should Eat in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe has a little bit of everything food-wise. Hands-down though, our favorite place to end a ride is Starkey’s Taco Truck in Truckee. Their wood-fired pizza is hard to beat after a big day on the bike. For tacos and other Mexican delicacies, head to Verde in South Lake Tahoe. For post-ride beers, there are several breweries around the lake including South Lake Brewing Company, and The Brewery at Lake Tahoe. So grab a local beer and plan for the next day’s ride.


Explore More Mountain Biking Trail Areas