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Pony Express Trail (XP) and Lovers Leap Trail

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 4.0 from 3 votes
  Difficult from 3 votes
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Rank: #5 in the South Lake Tahoe area
#84 in California
#676 Overall
Featured Ride near South Lake Tahoe,  area, 
“High quality singletrack starting on Echo Summit, passing over Lover's Leap and dropping to Kyburz.”
Nico Tripcevich on Jun 21, 2013
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23.237.4 milesKilometers 1,731’528 m Ascent 7,401’2,256 m High 5.5% Avg Grade
60% Singletrack -4,996’-1,523 m Descent 3,964’1,208 m Low 21.7% Max Grade
Restrictions
The very beginning overlaps with the Pacific Crest Trail which is closed to bikes so walk the first 1/4 mile. ** Start of this trail as indicated by the gps start point is a fire-road, no restrictions for mountain bikes.**
Overview
This is a good intermediate/advanced singletrack connecting the South Lake Tahoe Basin (via Hawley Grade) with the upper South Fork American river. It features pine forests and well developed singletrack on granite bedrock.

**Trail is a mix of singletrack and fire-road almost an even split in terms of miles. A large portion of the singletrack is on soft loamy soil. The descent from Lovers Leap is a mix of rocky/rooty soft soil. I saw very little granite riding along the length of the trail (plenty of granite on the hike a bike to the Lovers Leap summit).**
Need To Know
To ride the whole length it's best to do it with a car shuttle on Hwy 50. It's possible to ride the other direction (climbing from Kyburz) but there is a lot of hike-a-bike, particularly up to Lover's Leap.

At 2 points you exit on to FS roads and you have to try to relocate the trail further on so pay attention to the GPS track on the MTB Project mobile app at these 2 places: (1) where you enter the Sierra-at-Tahoe ski area, (2) west of Lover's Leap where you take roads, cross bridge, and trail resumes across hwy 50.

**There's a junction west of Sayles canyon where you can climb to Lover's Leap or drop to Slippery Ford (Pony Express is the lower/right trail). At this split the track shows the Lovers Leap trail route.**

Cyclists should do the short climb over Lover's because the views are magnificent and the trail below Lover's Leap follows an extremely rocky stream bed for about 1/2 mile between the Hogs-back and the base of the Lover's Leap face.
Description
Exceptional trail follows Highway 50 but is generally far enough from the highway for quiet, scenic experience, making this one of the better cross-country rides in the Tahoe area.

The trail takes you from the Tahoe rim along the south side of Highway 50, then jogs over Hwy 50 at Strawberry where it parallels the highway down to Kyburz.

**The ride along the N Side of Hwy 50 is a mix of logging roads and singletrack. It is extremely easy to go off trail and there are a lot of trail obstacles (Trees). The last 3 miles to Kyburz is heavily overgrown but still very rideable.**

To ride it out-and-back, it's recommended you do either just the best section is Echo Summit to Lover's Leap out and back, or brave the highway to climb up and do it as a loop.
If you're driving in a group over highway 50 get dropped off at Echo Summit and have them go for a short hike and meet you 2-3 hrs later in Kyburz!

Recommended adjacent trails: Hawley Grade connection. Also note that from the West Bowl of Sierra-at-Tahoe you can connect with Sayles Canyon trail.
History & Background
This trail is relatively new. I believe that it was developed by the USFS in the past 20 years as a multi-use trail to celebrate the anniversary of the Pony Express system.
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COMMENTS
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