Beer vs. Mountain Bike Trails: Preliminary Results

Mountain Bike Trails vs Beers: A Plot // tahoefabulous.com

As I mentioned earlier, I created a survey to rank the mountain bike trails and beer for smaller cities and towns. So far, I’ve gotten 18 responses, and here are the preliminary results. Bellingham seems to be the highest rated town, with the highest beer rating at 9.25 and a high trail score at 9.00. Whistler/Squamish had the highest rating for trails, an average of 9.86, with a decent beer score of 7.43. Interestingly, Bend had the second highest beer score of 8.89, but a fairly low trail score of 5.89. Reno had the lowest overall score with a trail score of 4.75 and beer score of 6.25. (I think that Reno beer score is seriously too low. If you need a recommendation for better Reno beer, let me know.)

Because several destinations had as few as two responses, I also did a chart with only the towns that had at least 5 responses.

Survey is still open, so you can still respond here. Thanks!

Snowshoeing Chickadee Ridge, North Lake Tahoe

This weather this winter has been…varied. We started off strong with a lot of snow, but then we had a long dry period, and lately, it’s been weak storms. Not a lot of opportunities for powder days. Last weekend, though, we had a beautiful sunny Saturday, so Greyson and I were looking for something fun to take advantage of that. After debating a few options, we settled on going on a snowshoe trek to Chickadee Ridge above Incline Village.

Snowshoeing Chickadee Ridge Lake Tahoe NV // tahoefabulous.com

The hike out to Chickadee Ridge is one of the more popular snowshoes in the North Lake Tahoe, for good reason. There are incredible views, the trail head is easy to get to, there’s ample parking, the ~2.5 mile round trip will get your heart rate up, but it’s not too hard, and since hikers tend to spread out, you’ll spend much of your excursion in solitude. See my hike on Strava here.

Trail Details & Map via Strava

To get to Chickadee Ridge, we started near the Tahoe Meadows trailhead of the Tahoe Rim Trail along the Mount Rose Highway 431. We parked here, which is also the parking for the snow play area on the north side of the highway. Don’t be alarmed if there are a ton of cars, most are there using the sled hill. 

After we parked, we crossed to the south side of Hwy 431 and headed cross country across the meadow toward the treeline, me on snowshoes and Greyson on his backcountry skis. One thing that I love about snowshoeing and winter recreation is the ability to forge my own path. We knew the general area we were heading, but we were able to meander there on our own. Pretty much as soon as we got into the trees, we were on our own. While there isn’t an official trail in the winter, this is a popular enough destination that there is a packed out trail to follow, if you’re worried about getting lost. When we were there, it was even packed hard enough that people were hiking in boots without snowshoes or skis (though I wouldn’t recommend it!). 

Tahoe Meadows Winter Fun // tahoefabulous.com

Once we were in the trees, we started a steady, but not too steep climb. We ended up climbing about 350 feet overall with only one steep stretch at the end. We weren’t going to a specific destination on Chickadee Ridge, so we just snowshoed south until we could see Lake Tahoe, then turned northeast-ish and walked along the ridge until we found a nice rock to sit on with a great view.

Snowshoeing Chickadee Ridge Lake Tahoe NV // tahoefabulous.com

Another reason that people go to Chickadee Ridge is right in the name. Visitors often bring bird seed and feed the mountain chickadees that hang out in the area. Due to this, they are pretty friendly and will fly up to see if you have any snacks for them. I’m not a big fan of birds getting close to me, so we didn’t feed them. A few flew close, but left us alone once they realized we had no food, which I appreciated. 

Snowshoeing Chickadee Ridge Lake Tahoe NV // tahoefabulous.com

After hanging out and enjoying the view for awhile, Greyson and I started getting hungry, so we packed up and headed out. On our way out, we followed the biggest set of packed out tracks and we were quickly back in the meadow and back to the car. Since we were hungry, we headed straight to the new-ish Alibi Ale Works Incline Public House. Alibi Ale Works is one of my favorite local breweries, but I hadn’t checked out their new pub location in Incline Village. They have a bigger kitchen than the Truckee location, so the menu is expanded and everything looked so good. I got an excellent spicy chicken sandwich, and since it’s dry January, a local Pacific Crest Coffee nitro cold brew. I’m not usually a huge nitro cold brew fan, but this was seriously one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in years! I highly recommend a stop at Alibi Ale Works Incline Public House stop after you do the Chickadee Ridge snowshoe. See my Strava Track here.

Click here to see my favorite gear for snowshoeing.

Click here to see some of my favorite snowshoe hikes in Truckee.

Trail Stats
Mileage: ~2.5 miles
Elevation Gain: ~350 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land

Kingsbury Stinger Trail, Stateline, Nevada

I think I have a new favorite trail on the south shore of Lake Tahoe – the Kingsbury Stinger trail in Stateline, Nevada. The climb isn’t terrible and the downhill is super fun ride, with a mix of fast, bermed switchbacks and rocky features. Add in incredible views of Lake Tahoe, and you’ve got an amazing trail!

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Check out my Kingsbury Stinger Trail Video here.

The Kingsbury Stinger trail was built in 2016 as a reroute of an old, eroded moto trail as a project of TAMBA and the US Forest Service. The route we did was about 10 miles and 1,450 feet of climbing. Kingsbury Stinger is accessed from a neighborhood off of Kingsbury Grade/Highway 207. The trailhead is on Terrace View Drive (which is listed incorrectly as Terrace View Street on Trailforks, so Google Maps won’t find it!), and there’s street parking near the trail. Click here for a map to the Kingsbury Stinger trailhead and street parking.

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava

While you can ride all the way up on the regular Kingsbury Stinger trail, we cut off about a mile and a few hundred feet of climbing by using the Lower Stinger Shortcut, which is accessed by climbing up about a tenth of a mile on Terrace View Road. The access point for this trail is on the right, and easy to spot. I highly recommend using this shortcut for the climb up, especially as the lower part of Kingsbury Stinger is pretty sandy.

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

The climb up to the top of Kingsbury Stinger is a steady climb, punctuated by some really steep stretches and a few techy sections that I had to hike up. It was also pretty sandy, which makes the climb feel even longer than it actually is. There are not really any notable downhill sections during the climb up, but there are a few easier climbing and flat stretches to give you a break. There are some pretty incredible views of Lake Tahoe along the way also, so I stopped to admire the view quite a few times. At about mile 4.1, you’ll cross the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is a sign that you’re almost to the top!

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

The climb tops out after about 4.6 miles and 1,275 feet of climbing at 7,950 feet. Here we took a break to have a snack and get ready for the long downhill to the bottom. I was a little nervous about the downhill, since some of the rock features seemed pretty challenging on the ride up, and the lower part of the trail was pretty sandy and loose. We rode the trail in early October, not too long after the area had gotten some rain and snow, so we were expecting the trail to be in decent shape. The decomposed granite sections were really loose and blown out – I had forgotten how quickly those dry out in the fall. The dirt parts of the trail were dusty and a little unconsolidated on the lower half of the trail, but there was some nice tacky dirt near the top where the snow had hung around longer. Next year, we’re going to ride it in the spring or early summer!

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

That said, the downhill was incredibly fun! Having good tires and riding under control makes a big difference, but I never felt like I was going to slide out in the sandy turns. As for the rock features, I was able to ride all of them. On a couple of the more challenging ones, I rode up to and got a look first, but I found everything rideable. Most of the features had very visible ride outs, so I could see where I was going, and there weren’t really features built on blind corners, which I struggle with.

Kingsbury Stinger Trail // tahoefabulous.com

We planned to ride all the way down on Kingsbury Stinger proper, and at about mile 8.7, we crossed the intersection with the Lower Stinger Cutoff. Now we were riding blind! This section was pretty loose and involved a ~0.4 mile climb in strength sapping sand, pretty late in the ride. I wasn’t super into this part. At about mile 9.5, we did get to go down again. The last part of Kingsbury Stinger was a mix of single and double track sandy whoops and loose descents. Sandy whoops are not usually my favorite, but for whatever reason, I had a blast on them this time. Maybe it made me nostalgic for when I was first learning to mountain bike in South Lake Tahoe, and ALL the trails had sandy whoops sections? After that, we popped back out in the neighborhood, right by our car. This was such and awesome ride, and I’m excited to ride it again next year!

Trail Stats:
Location: Kingsbury Grade, Stateline, Nevada
Difficulty: Intermediate
Mileage: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,430
Click here for my Strava track
Washoe Land

VIDEO: Jackass Trail, Truckee, California

Jackass Trail is probably the most ridded downhill trail in the Truckee area, and that’s for a good reason. It’s rideable by all levels of riders, with ride arounds for beginners and doubles, drops, and rock rolls for advanced riders. It’s newly legal (thanks Truckee Trails Foundation & US Forest Service!) and there’s a new trail for climbing so go check it out.

Five Awesome Fall Mountain Bike Rides in Tahoe-Truckee

Tahoe Truckee Fall Mountain Bike Rides // tahoefabulous.com

Fall, or “Locals Summer”, is hands down my favorite time to go mountain biking in Tahoe and Truckee. The weather is cooler, the trails are less crowded, and, if we’re lucky, we’ve gotten some rain to help tamp down the dust. However, some rides are better than other in the fall. Some trails get over ridden throughout the summer and are too loose by September, and others are high enough that early season snow renders them unrideable. Here are some of my favorite Truckee and Tahoe trails to ride in the fall.

Fall Riding Donner Lake Rim Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Donner Lake Rim Trail, Truckee, California
The Donner Lake Rim Trail, which currently traverses about 10.5 miles of single track above the north side of Donner Lake is an awesome fall ride. Other than some loose, dusty corners, the trail holds up really well into the late fall. The Donner Lake Rim Trail has some of the best views of Donner Lake, it’s one of the best mountain biking trails for fall colors. It’s easy to access, has plenty of parking, and it connects to other local trails, like Hole in the Ground and Wendin Way

The Donner Lake Rim Trail has sections for everyone, from beginners to advanced riders. The Castle Valley segment is rocky and technical, the Drifter Hut Switchbacks are mostly flowy with some tight corners, and the Skislope segment is either a mellow climb up or ride down. For more details about the trails, check out my Trail Guides for the Donner Lake Rim Trail from Castle Valley and from Glacier Way. I haven’t written a trail guide for the newest section of the Donner Lake Rim Trail that connects to Northwoods Drive, but you can check out my video of the trail here.

Fall Riding Corral Trail Network // tahoefabulous.com

Upper Corral and Incense Cedar Trails, South Lake Tahoe, California
While Truckee mainly gets dusty in the fall, South Lake Tahoe trails tend to get sandy from decomposed granite. This route consisting of Upper Corral and Incense Cedar mostly avoids the sandpits that form in the fall. To access the trails, head up Fountain Place Road, a paved road that can be ridden or shuttled. Upper Corral is a pretty technical downhill trail, earning its advanced rating on Trailforks. There are some tricky turns, mandatory drops, and long rock gardens, though all the features are walkable if needed. Incense Cedar, on the other hand, is a mellow trail that’s mainly downhill, with a few short climbs sprinkled throughout. Incense Cedar pops out onto Powerline Road, a fire road that can get pretty sandy in spots, but is rideable back to the parking area on Fountain Place. To see my Strava track for this route, click here. For more information about the Corral Trail Network, click here for my trail guide.

Fall MTB Riding Royal Gorge Rim Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Royal Gorge Rim Trail, Soda Springs, California
The Royal Gorge trails on Donner Summit make for great fall riding. The trails were designed with mountain biking in mind, so they hold up well. Also, since they’re less well known than other Truckee trails, they have much lower traffic than something like Jackass, and aren’t as beat up as a result.mFor a great fall ride, I’d recommend the Royal Gorge Rim Trail Loop, which is a little over 6 miles and about 1,000 feet of climbing. Be sure to take the Routen Peak Spur, and enjoy the incredible views. Click here to see my video featuring the Royal Gorge Trails.

Tyrolean Downhill, Incline Village, Nevada
The Tyrolean Downhill is an awesome shuttle trail that gets sandy, but is still an excellent late season ride. It’s got incredible views of Lake Tahoe and takes you through a variety of classic Tahoe terrain. Tyrolean has features that will challenge advanced riders, but the majority of the technical features have ride arounds that make this doable by intermediate riders – without losing the flow!

To do the Tyrolean Downhill as a shuttle (which most riders do), leave one car parked at the Diamond Peak Ski Resort parking lot, where the trail ends. While there are several ways to access the Tyrolean Downhill, my favorite is via the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). Park at the Tahoe Meadows Tahoe Rim Trail parking area, off of Highway 431. Hop on the TRT: Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Creek segment, and after about 1.6 miles, you’ll hit ab intersection. Turn right to get on Upper Tyrolean, which is a mellow flowing ride through the forest. After about 1.15 miles, Upper Tyrolean turns into the Tyrolean DH, which drops nearly 1,650 feet in 3.3 miles! The trail ends at the Diamond Peak parking lot, making this a super easy shuttle, with only about 350 feet of climbing over about 6 miles. Click here to see my Strava route, but ignore the spur at mile 0.8. We were riding through patchy snow at the top and took a wrong turn. For my video of the Tyrolean Downhill (also featuring a trail race and a bunch of runners who aren’t usually there), click here.

Fall MTB Rides: Big Chief Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Big Chief Trail, Truckee, California
One of the newest, techiest trails in Truckee is an incredible fall ride, the Big Chief Trail. The trail is mainly in the thick forest, and is well built so the dirt segments hold up well, even after long, dry periods. There are also incredible rock work, long rock gardens, and gravel sections which won’t get very loose and dusty. It’s made up of two sections, Big Chief Upper and Big Chief Lower and can be accessed by a 7.7 mile fire road climb on the 06/Sawtooth Road. It can also be shuttled and some people ride up the trail. The trail is multidirectional, but most riders tend to ride up the fire road. The whole ride is about 15.7 miles and around 2,000 feet of climbing. For my Strava route, click here.

This is a trail for advanced and intermediate riders, especially the upper section – there are some big drops, tight corners, and technical rock gardens. I ended up walking quite a few features on Big Chief Upper! For an easier ride, you can easily just do Big Chief Lower, as the start of this segment crosses the 06 at about mile 3.7. If you’re looking for even longer ride, you can tack on Sawtooth Loop or other trails in the Sawtooth network. Click here to see my video of Big Chief Trail.

Mountain Biking Royal Gorge, Soda Springs, California

I rode the Royal Gorge Trails on Donner Summit for the first time this summer, this is such a cool and underrated area for mountain biking in Truckee! The trails are well built, and climbing doesn’t feel like a chore to get to the good stuff. While the downhills have flow, they’re not overbuilt flow trails, and riding through the forest feels natural. As a bonus, they aren’t as well known as the other Truckee trails, so they don’t get very crowded or beat up by overuse.

Royal Gorge Rim Trail // tahoefabulous.com

The fact that there are any trails at Royal Gorge is an amazing story of conservation success story. In 2012, Mountain Area Preservation (the organization where I work), Truckee Donner Land Trust (the organization where Greyson works) and eight other organizations came together to stop a proposed development of 950 residential units. Through negotiations and fundraising more than $11 million, the Truckee Donner Land Trust was able to acquire more than 3,000 acres at Royal Gorge, which is now permanently protected and accessible to the public for mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing and more! Click here for more information from the Land Trust about Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge Rim Trail // tahoefabulous.com

For an awesome ride that showcases some of the Royal Gorge Highlights, I’d recommend this route that’s mainly on the Royal Gorge Rim Trail which is about 6 miles and ~1,000 feet of climbing. Park at the Hoelter Hall Trail Head in Soda Springs, and from there hop on Upper Switchback which turns into Lower Claim Jumper. After about 0.5 miles on Lower Claim Jumper, there’s an intersection and take the right fork to continue on to Upper Claim Jumper for less than 0.25 miles. Take a right for a short jaunt on the Razorback/Claim Jumper Connector and then another right on to Lower Bogus Basin. After about 0.3 miles, you’ll hit a trail intersection where you want to take the middle trail with lots of switchbacks, Razorback Reroute. Razorback ends at a bench with awesome views, so check it out.

Royal Gorge Rim Trail Scenic Viewpoint // tahoefabulous.com

Razorback turns into the Royal Gorge Rim Trail (RGRT), but be sure not to miss the Rowton Peak Spur, which is a short climb rewarded with amazing views. After riding back down, hop back on the the RGRT Bogus Basin to Razorback segment which descends a fun and flowy 230 feet in about 0.75 miles. At the intersection, take the left trail on to RGRT Tiny Tim to Bogus Basin for another 300 feet of descent interspersed with some short climbs that dead ends on a very short section of access road. Go left on the access road, and almost immediately RGRT Soda Springs to Tiny Tim, the final bit of trail on this route will be on the left. The Royal Gorge Rim Trail ends on Soda Springs Road, which will take you back to the parking area.

This route is just a part of the Royal Gorge Trails, and I’m excited to explore more of this area before winter arrives! 

Click here to see my video of the Royal Gorge Rim Trail

Ride Stats:
Location: Soda Springs, Donner Summit, California
Mileage: ~6.25 miles
Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet
Difficulty: Intermediate

VIDEO: Mountain Biking the Donner Lake Rim Trail – Castle Valley to Wendin Way

This weekend, I rode the Donner Lake Rim Trail from Castle Valley west and down the Wendin Way Trail. This is a great route for late in the summer – it’s less dusty than a lot of the trails in the area and is still in good shape. We did it as a shuttle, leaving one car at the PCT trailhead near Boreal Resort and one down at Donner Lake. Doing it that way it’s a fun shuttle with a mellow fire road climb, some chunky granite XC style riding, flowy mellow trails in the trees (with a great stopping point at Summit Lake) and a downhill that has both fast switchbacks and some rocky features.

Click here to read my trail report on the Donner Lake Rim Trail from Castle Valley to Wendin Way.

VIDEO: Mountain Biking the New Section of the Donner Lake Rim Trail

There’s a newly completed portion of the Donner Lake Rim Trail! Trailforks is calling it two segments – DLRT Teton and DLRT Skislope, which cover about 5.5 miles and around 950 feet of descent (or climbing, depending which direction you ride it). The trail is pretty dusty and riding slow right now, but it has incredible views and I think it will be amazing once it gets some rain!

Mountain Biking Big Chief Trail, Truckee, CA

Big Chief Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Check out my Big Chief Trail video here!

There’s a new mountain bike trail in Truckee, the Big Chief Trail, and it is awesome! While mountain bike/keyboard warriors may complain on the internet that the Forest Service only builds boring, easy trails, that’s absolutely not true of the Big Chief Trail. Ridden from the top down, the trail descends about 2,175 feet over ~8.5 miles, but it’s a pain to shuttle and involves a lot of driving. If you’re riding up, you can either ride up the Big Chief trail or up the 06 fire road, which I prefer. The Big Chief trailhead is about 3 miles up the 06 past the Sawtooth Trailhead. If you are shuttling from the top, the Upper Big Chief Trailhead is near the intersection of the Fiberboard Freeway and the 500 road. There’s limited parking, but the drive in is all paved. (Strava route for the shuttle here and Strava route for the fire road ride here.)

Big Chief Trail // tahoefabulous.com
Trail map & elevation via Strava

Big Chief Trail is split into two main sections, the top third (which was just completed this summer) and the bottom two thirds. Big Chief Upper is the most technical part, earning its advanced rating. At this point there are several large features that I couldn’t ride and didn’t have ride arounds, though I was able to walk them fairly easily. (I’ve heard, though, that eventually all the features will have ride arounds.) This section is pretty rocky overall in addition to the several technical features. After about 2.15 miles and ~850 feet of descent, the upper section crosses the 06 fire road and Big Chief Lower begins.

Big Chief Trail // tahoefabulous.com

The lower section of Big Chief begins with a tiny climb that opens into expansive views and impressive rock work. The lower segment is easier overall than the upper section, but there are still challenging sections and lots of features like drops, rock rolls, wall rides and more. There’s also a fair amount of climbing on this section, with about 550 feet of climbing overall. Most of the climbing comes in a half mile section at about 1.3 miles into the lower section.

Big Chief Trail // tahoefabulous.com

After the climb, the trail flattens out and gets bumpy with rock rolls, drops, wall rides, wooden features, and more. All the features have ride arounds, and this is a good spot to session and practice. After the techy features, it’s mostly a fun, flowy, downhill ride to the bottom. There are great jumps and berms, and the trail is mostly smooth, though there are a few rock gardens and roots to keep you on your toes.

The Big Chief Trail is a fun, challenging trail that I’d recommend for intermediate or better riders. There are definitely advanced features on the Big Chief Upper and lower sections, but the trail is totally doable as an intermediate rider as long as you’re paying attention and prepared to walk or ride around when available. That said, riding just the Big Chief Lower section is less challenging than doing the whole thing, and a great option for an easier ride.

Trail Stats
(from the top of Big Chief Upper down)
Mileage: 7.85 miles
Elevation: 2,178 descent, 675 feet of climbing
Difficulty: Advanced Intermediate
Washoe Land

PS: Check out my lists of things to do in Truckee here and here for after your ride!

VIDEO: Mountain Biking Big Chief Trail, Truckee, CA

Big Chief Trail is the newest trail in the Truckee area, and Greyson and I rode it from the top! Check out the video (not pictured: some gnarly stuff we had to walk) which also includes some of the Sawtooth Trail.