When fall is in full effect, it’s time to get on your bike in mountain communities across the country. It’s no secret that the Lake Tahoe area holds some of the best mountain biking in the lower 48, thanks in large part to the many miles of singletrack accessible from the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). In fact, many bikers seek out a visit to the Tahoe area just for a chance to ride the several sections of the TRT that are open to bikes.
One of the most popular TRT rides is the section of trail that runs from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury Grade North. “The Bench” as it’s commonly referred to is an amazing 12.2 mile ride that can be fun riding in either direction, combined as an out-and-back, but is most commonly ridden with a start from the Kingsbury North trailhead. What’s interesting about this ride is 5.5 miles in from Kingsbury North, or 6.7 miles in from Spooner Summit, there’s a very obvious sign pointing to the Sierra Canyon Trail. I never gave it much thought in the past, and have still heard very little about the trail from other riders in the area. However, after riding it, I’m at a loss for why as it’s easily one of the more fun downhills in the greater Tahoe area.
The best way to access the trail is to start from either TRT trailhead previously mentioned, but to first set up a shuttle car at the base of the Sierra Canyon Trail. You can ride straight up the Sierra Canyon Trail as well, but that’s only if you want to ride up roughly 4,000 feet of vertical. It’s a great workout, but if you’re looking for more of a downhill experience then you’re going to want to set up the shuttle.
Since the 5.5 miles of the TRT that starts at Kingsbury North is such a fun ride as is, my crew chose to start there after setting up the shuttle. The ride meanders, climbs and drops as you do your best to not crash while taking in spectacular views of Lake Tahoe to the west. This section of the TRT is also known for bucking riders who aren’t used to technical features. You might be stoked to give a few of these obstacles a chance, or you might be bummed to walk-a-bike several times as you cruise the trail, but by the time you get to the clearly marked turnoff for the Sierra Canyon Trail it’s literally all downhill from there.
Nevada’s Carson Range is most easily characterized as high alpine desert. While this might lead one to believe the trail would be full of loose, sandy rock, there was actually none to speak of. Long switchbacks, with a few stretches of bumpy talus are mere footnotes that start the ride when compared to the quality dirt, tight trees and open vistas that dominate the descent. From the TRT turnoff, it’s 9.6 miles back to the trailhead and not for a second was any section of the trail washed out, poorly maintained or unrideable. It almost felt like at some point, there had to be some section to kill the buzz, but it never happened. If you’re in the area or are just looking for something a little different, give the Sierra Canyon Trail a go. You won’t be disappointed, and chances are, you’ll be planning to get back on it as soon as you finish your first lap.