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fall in tahoe Hiking Tahoe Fabulous Life trail report Truckee

Five Must Do Fall Hikes in Truckee

I love hiking in Truckee in the fall! Read below for a few of my favorites places to hike before the snow starts falling. All of these hikes are on Nisenan & Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land.

Donner Peak Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Donner Peak: Hiking to the top of Donner Peak is one of my favorite short and sweet hikes that still works up a sweat. It’s just under 4 miles round trip and just under 1,000 feet of climbing, with a unique view of Donner Lake through a “window” in the summit. You can check out my Hiking Donner Peak trail guide here. Note: I wrote that guide for hiking it in the spring/early summer. By fall time, there likely won’t be much, if any, running water on the trail.

Sawtooth Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Sawtooth Loop: I’ve mainly done the Sawtooth Loop as a mountain bike ride, but it’s also a popular hiking trail. If you want a longer hike, you can do the full loop, which is about 10.75 miles and ~650 feet of climbing. For something shorter, just treat it like an out and back. Start by parking at the Sawtooth Trailhead parking area here. The trail is pretty well marked, but there are a few social trails as well, so it’s good to have an idea where you’re going. To do the full loop, start on Lower Ridgeline. I’d recommend hiking it counterclockwise, so continue on to Upper Ridgeline, then Martis Creek Meadow, Bald Meadow, and finally back on to Lower Ridgeline.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Tinker Knob: For a long hike with a scrambly summit, I’d recommend hiking to Tinker Knob on the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s about 15 miles with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. The views on this hike are among my favorite of any hike I’ve done in the area. If you’re interested in a most-of-a-day hike, here’s my guide to hiking Tinker Knob.

Summit Lake: The out and back to the gorgeous Summit Lake is another route I’ve mainly done as a mountain bike ride, but it’s a beautiful spot to hike into. The way I go, it’s about 900 feet of climbing and 6 miles round trip, mainly uphill on the way out and mostly down on the way down with a beautiful lunch spot at Summit Lake at the midpoint. Park here, at the Castle Valley trailhead and head up the Castle Valley Fire Road for about 0.57 miles before turning right onto Donner Lake Rim Trail/Castle Valley East, which is usually signed. The DLRT crosses the PCT (don’t turn here!) and becomes the DLRT Castle Valley section and then the DLRT Summit Lake Trail which will bring you to Summit Lake. You can also get to Summit Lake via the PCT Castle Valley and the Summit Lake Trail, which I’d like to do someday!

Castle Peak Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Castle Peak: I think that this is the most challenging hike on my list, even if it isn’t the longest! The incredible rock outcroppings and miles of views make it totally worth it though! It’s about 7.12 miles round trip, with about 1,900 feet of climbing, though a lot of that climbing happens in just a couple of miles. The downhill on this hike is almost as challenging as the climb, and I’d recommend trekking poles for this one. Here’s my guide to summiting Castle Peak. 

Click here for some my favorite gear for hiking in Truckee and Tahoe in the fall!

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mountain biking Tahoe Fabulous Life tahoe summer trail report

Three Awesome Mountain Bike Routes in Tahoe Donner

Tahoe Donner is the largest neighborhood in Truckee, full of second homes and vacation rentals on a ridgeline north of Donner Lake. It’s big enough that it has a golf course, rec center, forestry department, and a bunch of awesome mountain bike trails. While you can access the trails of Tahoe Donner from a few different trailheads around town, I’m highlighting three fun routes that all begin at the Alder Creek Adventure Center. Note: unless you are living, visiting, or staying at a rental in Tahoe Donner, park on the road outside of the fence where there’s usually plenty of parking.

Hawkes Peak Loop

Hawkes Peak Loop // tahoefabulous.com

This is the most challenging loop I’ve ridden in Tahoe Donner. It’s got great views, a section with more technical downhill than most of Tahoe Donner, and a super fun descent with lots of great little rock rolls and jumps. All of these routes begin with the same first few trails: Alder Creek Northern Terminus (0.34 miles) to Randy’s Ramble (0.33 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Connector (<0.1 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Upper. These first few segments aren’t well signed, so it’s nice to have the Trailforks app on your phone, but it’s also hard to get too lost, because eventually you’ll pop out on a fire road (or at least I always have) Once on Cinnamon Twist Upper, you’ll follow that for about 0.24 miles until it crosses the Sundance fire road where you’ll turn left and start the long climb up.

After about 0.3 miles on Sundance, the trail will fork and you’ll keep left to stay on Sundance until it splits at about 0.7 miles in, where the fire road crosses True Grit trail. Take the right turn on to Crazy Horse fire road for a 0.5 mile, steep climb before taking the right fork and continuing the steep fire road climbing on Andromeda fire road. (I definitely got off to push at a couple of the steep parts of this fire road climb and got very jealous of the group that passed us on E-Bikes.) After about 0.5 miles on Andromeda, the climb flattens out and you’ll bend right around the shoulder of Hawkes Peak. Keep a look out for a singletrack trail to your right at about 0.6 miles.

Hawkes Peak Loop // tahoefabulous.com

Hawk’s Peak (Upper Section) is the last bit of climbing. I ended up pushing up some of this 0.28 mile section too; it’s not overly technical, but I was tired! You’ll be rewarded with a summit and an incredible 360 degree view of Truckee. It’s (literally) all downhill from here! The first and most technical downhill segment is Mother Lode (Upper Section). I’ve ridden quite a few trails in Tahoe Donner, and I generally think that the trails are easier than their rating on Trailforks. This one is an exception, or at least it was when I rode it in early August of 2020. The trail was dry and loose with off camber turns and chunky rocks. For this loop, you won’t ride all of upper Mother Lode. At about 0.9 miles in, take a hard right onto the very short True Grit/Mother Lode Connector, which will dump you out onto True Grit (Upper Section).

While I enjoyed the views from the top and the challenge of Mother Lode, True Grit was when I really started having fun. Even though the trail was still loose and dusty, this part was holding together a bit better and it was fun and flowy. Trailforks separates True Grit into two segments, splitting them where it crosses the Sundance fire road, but while you’re riding it, it really doesn’t feel like two different trails, even though they have different difficulty grades. True Grit (Lower Section) starts at about 0.75 miles in. My favorite part of True Grit is the little features sprinkled throughout – rock rolls, small jumps, etc. They all have ride arounds if you’re not interested in features, but if you made it down Mother Lode, you can definitely handle all the features. The lower part of True Grit ends after about 0.85 miles at Alder Creek Road. Here, you can ride Alder Creek Road back to the parking area or (if you want a bit more time on the trails) ride about 0.15 miles before turning right onto Pony Express fire road for about 0.39 miles and getting back onto Alder Creek Northern Terminus.

Watch my video of Mother Lode and True Grit here.

Trail Stats
Distance: 6.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,069 feet
Difficulty: Advanced
Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land
Trailforks Ride Log

True Grit Up & Mother Lode Down

True Grit Mother Lode // tahoefabulous.com

This route is less technical than the previous one, and it avoids the steep fire road climb for a challenging but doable singletrack climb. This route also startsAlder Creek Northern Terminus (0.34 miles) to Randy’s Ramble (0.33 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Connector (<0.1 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Upper. On this route, you’ll only be on Cinnamon Twist Upper for 0.1 miles before it crosses True Grit (Lower Section) where you’ll turn left and start the real climb. After about 0.7 miles, the trail crosses a fire road and turns into True Grit (Upper Section) which climbs for another 0.75 miles before ending at another fire road. Go straight onto the <0.1 mile True Grit/Mother Lode Connector which is the last bit of climbing before the intersection with Mother Lode.

True Grit Mother Lode // tahoefabulous.com

Turn right to start going down Mother Lode (Upper Section). This trail section is rated as advanced, but I think that’s mainly due to the top half and the part you’ll ride on this route is more of a challenging intermediate. It’s got great views, but feels a little exposed and the rocks are a little chattery. After about 0.25 miles, the trail becomes Mother Lode (Middle Section) for about 0.4 miles before it dead ends on Hastings, which is a fire road turned double track. Turn left, and after <0.1 miles, the double track turns into Mother Lode (Lower Section). The lower section of Mother Lode is bermed and flowy so it can get pretty loose and dusty in the late summer, but some fun rooty areas and twisty sections. At about 0.8 into lower Mother Lode, there’s an intersection with a trail called Fool’s Gold – don’t take this. Keep going and just before the 1 mile mark, lower Mother Lode turns into Hidden Gem at the crossing with a fire road, which is a pretty similar type of riding. 

Hidden Gem ends at South Eur Valley Road at 1.1 miles where you’ll turn right and gently climb for about 1 mile. Keep a look out for a trail on your right – Cinnamon Twist Upper. Climb back up Cinnamon Twist and retrace your ride on Cinnamon Twist Connector, Randy’s Ramble, and Alder Creek Northern Terminus back to your car.

Trail Stats
Distance: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,032 feet
Difficulty: Intermediate
Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land
Strava Ride Log

Mustang Sally

Mustang Sally // tahoefabulous.com

Mustang Sally is considered one of the best trails in Tahoe Donner and I definitely agree. While it’s rated as advanced on Trailforks, I think that’s a bit of an overstatement and is really more of a challenging intermediate with no mandatory features, steep drops, or difficult rock gardens. Again, start on Alder Creek Northern Terminus (0.34 miles) to Randy’s Ramble (0.33 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Connector (<0.1 miles) to Cinnamon Twist Upper. This time, you’ll ride the full 0.65 miles down Cinnamon Twist Upper to South Eur Valley Road. Turn left and look for Cinnamon Twist Lower at about 0.2 miles. 

Cinnamon Twist will end at about 0.37 miles at Alder Creek Road. Continue straight and after about 0.3 miles, East Mustang Sally trail will be on your left. (Don’t turn onto the first trail you see on your left at about 0.2 miles, Mustang Sally has a trail sign.) East Mustang Sally is the main climb on this route – you’ll gain ~680 feet in under two miles. There’s a bit of a false summit at about 1.65 miles though. I was very disappointed to realize that I had more to climb after a short downhill! The actual top of the route has some cool big boulders and a nice view.

Mustang Sally // tahoefabulous.com

You’ll go a bit downhill on  East Mustang Sally before you pop out on a fire road. Make a sharp left after a swing right to get on the real downhill, West Mustang Sally. This part of Mustang Sally drops ~540 feet in just under a mile, and like I mentioned earlier, it’s very rideable and fun. It dead ends at another singletrack, Sidewinder, which is about 1.25 miles of rolling hills and a couple of punchy climbs. Sidewinder dumps you back out on Alder Creek Road, and from there you’ll just retrace your ride: Cinnamon Twist Lower to South Eur Valley Road to Cinnamon Twist Upper to Randy’s Ramble to Alder Creek Northern Terminus.

Click here to watch my video of Mustang Sally.

Trail Stats
Distance: 9.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,080
Difficulty: Intermediate
Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land
Trailforks Ride Log

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Hiking lake tahoe Tahoe Fabulous Life tahoe summer trail report

How to Hike Tinker Knob on the Pacific Crest Trail

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to tackle a hike I’d never done before and tackle a new-to-me peak, Tinker Knob on the Pacific Crest Trail. Tinker Knob is a landmark peak on the Sierra Crest between Truckee and Squaw Valley. It’s odd, nose-like shape is visible from Donner Summit and I-80. It’s apparently named after James Tinker, the proprietor of the hotel at Tinker’s Station (now known as Soda Springs) and his prominent nose.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

There are a few ways to access Tinker Knob – from Olympic Valley via the Granite Chief Trail and the PCT, from Coldstream Canyon via the Coldstream Trail, and from Donner Summit via the PCT, which is the way I went. This route was about 15 miles, 2,300+ feet of climbing and it took me a little under six hours. (I started my Garmin a little late on the Strava track below).

I started my hike parking at the Donner Peak/Pacific Crest Trailhead. This area can get really crowded, especially on summer weekends, so the earlier you arrive the better, and be sure not to park in no parking areas.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

The Donner Peak section of the PCT starts with a stout climb up rocky granite “stairs” cut into the hillside before transitioning into a dirt trail through Sugar Bowl Resort. This section is about 540 feet of climbing in a little over a mile before a trail intersection.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Turn right to continue on the short Mount Judah section of the PCT (the left junction heads toward Donner Peak). After less than a mile, there’s well-signed a trail intersection where you could take a sharp left to detour and summit Mount Judah. This route had enough climbing for me already, so I decided to skip it for this trip.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

The next section Judah to Tinker Knob, will take you to your goal. Shortly after the intersection with the Judah detour there’s a very short digression that’s worth taking. It leads you to a beautiful overlook at Roller Pass, named because wagons could be winched up this pass, not disassembled and carried like they had to be over Donner Pass.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

After some more hiking through the trees, the trail opens up along the shoulder of Mount Lincoln and you can see for miles and miles. This is the start of a long, exposed section with no shade so be sure to have sun protection. I imagine it can be pretty hot up here if there’s no breeze or really windy. I got lucky and had just enough of a breeze to be comfortable, but I wasn’t being blown around or anything.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

The entire section climbs about 1,450 feet in five miles, but it’s not straight uphill. There’s a significant downhill that drops you over 250 feet about 0.85 miles in. There are also some really nice, flat portions of the trail that are easy to cruise on. Additionally, most of the trail is nicely packed dirt, though there are some sandy sections and loose rocky areas where paying attention to your feet (especially when you’re tired!) is important.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

The PCT does not go over the top of Tinker Knob, so if you want to summit you’ll have to detour and be comfortable with a little class 4 scrambling. The trail to the summit isn’t on Trail Forks, but it exists and it’s pretty obvious, when you’re below the summit. The first half of the trail is just a steep hike, but then you’ll have to do a little route finding. I needed to use both my hands and feet to climb the last little bit to the summit. I didn’t think it was too difficult, but I was extra careful since I was hiking solo.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

The 360 degree view from the top is incredible! It gave me a perspective on the area that I hadn’t had before, and I could even see into the Lake Tahoe Basin. After hanging out for a bit, I (very carefully, very slowly) picked my way back down to the trail and started back towards home.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com
Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com
Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Once off the sketchy part, I realized that I forgot to take a summit selfie, so I made do with a slightly-below-summit selfie that included the Knob itself.

Tinker Knob HIke // tahoefabulous.com

Even though this hike is an out and back, the views as I headed north were very different, so I wasn’t bored. I especially loved looking into the huge and impressive American River Canyon, which I rarely see on my typical hikes.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

I hiked along, occasionally breaking into a slow run to give my hiking muscles a break, until I arrived at the last real climb of the hike. I plodded up this, stopping occasionally to stretch and catch my breath, and finally made it to the top. I was super tired after this exertion, but my hips and knees were even more sore, so I did occasionally break out into a “run” in the smoother sections.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

Once at the granite step downclimb section I slowed down considerably. I was so tired and I definitely couldn’t run on this technical section, so I just took it as gingerly as I could. When I got back home, I joked with my husband that I was going for an “SKT” or slowest known time on that segment. Finally, finally, after at least 6 hours, I got back to my car and collapsed in the driver’s seat.

Tinker Knob Hike // tahoefabulous.com

This is the longest hike I’ve done in a long time (maybe ever?) and exhausting, but so worth it. If you’re looking for a gorgeous hike that introduces you to a great section of the PCT with ever changing views and great wildflowers, I’d highly recommend the hike to Tinker Knob on the PCT.

Trail Stats:
Difficulty: Advanced
Mileage: 15.25 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,541 feet
Nisenan & Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land
Strava Route Here

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california mountain biking Tahoe Fabulous Life trail report Truckee

Mountain Biking the Animal Trails, Truckee, California

Even though the COVID-19 outbreak has required that we stick close to home, I’ve still been exploring new to me mountain bike trails. I’ve just been trying out trails in Truckee and Tahoe that I haven’t ridden before. The Animal and Animal Crackers trails in the Prosser Trail Network, just north of Truckee off of Highway 89 quickly rose to the top of my favorite trails in the area.

Animal Trails Truckee // tahoefabulous.com
Via Strava

Greyson and I rode these trails as a loop starting from the parking lot at the Donner Party Picnic Area. We parked on the west side of Highway 89 in the gravel parking area, so we could avoid having to cross the highway to get the trailhead. The trails start right from the parking area, so are easy to find. We headed up Emigrant Trail, taking it for about 0.35 miles before making a right turn onto the Lower Prosser Traverse, which is more of a decomposed fire road than a single track trail. At just before 0.9 miles, look for a left turn onto the Lower Prosser Crossover Trail, a short connector climb.

The crossover trail dead ends at Lower Animal Crackers, where you’ll want to make a left to keep climbing up. From here, Lower Animal Crackers climbs about 375 feet in ~0.9 miles. Here, you’ll come to a trail intersection. From here, we decided to make the climb up to the top of Prosser Hill on Upper Animal Crackers, which is a right turn. We started climbing up, but accidentally took the left fork at one point and ended up on the moto primary Prosser Hill DH. We almost immediately had to start pushing up over the loose rocks and steps, and after about 0.5 miles we thought to check where we were on Trailforks and noticed we were on the wrong trail. Ooops! We quickly headed back down the technical (but rideable) trail and got back on Upper Animal Crackers.

Animal Crackers Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Upper Animal Crackers climbs just under 600 feet in about 1.2 miles, and I don’t think it has a single switchback. It is a pretty unrelenting climb, and we ended up pushing up some steep sections before finally making it to the top of Prosser Hill. After hanging out and enjoying the view for a bit, we headed back down the way we came, for a fast, but kind of uninteresting downhill. While the view from Prosser Hill is great, Upper Animal Crackers isn’t a super fun trail, up or down. I think it’s worth doing at least once for the view, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this segment. Also, on the way down (at about mile 1.3 from the top, we accidentally took a left fork onto an unnamed moto trail and had to backtrack and then cut a little cross country to get back on Upper Animal Crackers. Having Trailforks on our phones was a life saver on this ride – I’d highly recommend!

After a bit back on Upper Animal Crackers, we made it to the trail intersection and took the right turn onto Animal Crossover, a short connector trail. Trailforks was useful here, too, to make sure we didn’t get on yet another moto trail nearby. The real downhill fun begins on Animal Trail, which Trailforks ranks as a black diamond. I thought it was on the easier side for an advanced trail, but could see it getting more challenging later in the season as it gets blown out. When we rode it in late May, it was still in great shape. I thought the downhill was all rideable, with the biggest challenges being some steep and tight switchbacks. There aren’t really any mandatory jumps or built features, but the trail is a great example of trail building that uses natural contours and features to make a fun and challenging trail. Animal Trail drops 635 feet in about 1.2 miles with hardly any climbing. It dead ends back at Lower Prosser Traverse for a right turn before a quick left back onto Emigrant Trail and then back at the parking area.

Animal Trail // tahoefabulous.com

Like I said, I had a great time and really enjoyed this loop which was 9.15 miles and 1,757 feet of climbing, including our wrong turn detours. Next time, I’ll just do a shorter loop and skip Upper Animal Crackers, while paying closer attention at trail intersections. The trails aren’t super well marked, so I’d recommend having Trailforks on your phone and checking every so often, so you don’t end up on moto trails by accident. 

Check out my video of the Animal Trails here.

Trail Stats
Mileage: ~7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,550 feet
Difficulty: Advanced Intermediate
Wašišiw Ɂítdeh (Washoe) Land
View my Strava Ride Log Here

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california GoPro Videos mountain biking Tahoe Fabulous Life tahoe summer trail report

VIDEO: Kings Beach Trail Network

There’s an awesome new trail network in Kings Beach, just north of Lake Tahoe! We rode a few trails there this weekend to check it out, and really enjoyed this awesome new mountain bike resource.

Sorry about my hydration strap flapping into view for a bit on the Beaver Trail section. I forgot to tuck it away.

You can check out my ridelog on Strava here.

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Beer lake tahoe Lost Sierra mountain biking Reno Tahoe Fabulous Life trail report travels

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!

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Hiking lake tahoe Tahoe Fabulous Life tahoe winter trail report Uncategorized

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

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fall in tahoe lake tahoe mountain biking Tahoe Fabulous Life trail report

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

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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.

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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.