Pony Express Trail (XP) and Lovers Leap Trail

Consensus:    (details)
  3.8 from 5 votes
black  Difficult from 5 votes
Rank: #7 in the area
#162 in CA, #1,359 Overall
Views: 4,758. Last 30 days: 197
Condition Details | Update
Featured Ride in the
area near South Lake Tahoe,
“High quality singletrack starting on Echo Summit, passing over Lover's Leap and dropping to Kyburz.”
Nico Tripcevich on Jun 21, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
23.237.4 milesKilometers 1,731’528 m Ascent 7,401’2,256 m High 5% Avg Grade (3°)
60% Singletrack -4,996’-1,523 m Descent 3,964’1,208 m Low 36% Max Grade (20°)
3:39 average time for 27.0 miles. Details

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. This trail is a large portion of the Armstrong to Strawberry - IMBA Epic.

**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.
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.
View in 3D
5.0 (2)
Super Rad. Very Steep road climb
near South Lake Tahoe, CA
5.0 (1)
A point-to-point ride on a symphony of singletrack will leave your face sore ...
near South Lake Tahoe, CA
4.8 (4)
Miles and miles of amazing alpine singletrack, simply the best trail I've rid...
near Indian Hills, NV

Your To-Do List: Not on it   Add it! | Your Full List ›
Your Check-Ins:
Add a New Check-In | View All ›
Your Opinion:
Difficulty: -none- Change to: greengreenBlueblueblueBlackblackdoubleblack
Share This Page
Improve This Page
Add Photo or Map Symbol
Edit Description or GPS track

PHOTOS of Pony Express Trail (XP) and Lovers Leap Trail
  4.7 from 7 votes
Don't try this at home! (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  4.0 from 3 votes
Leaving Lovers Leap... 2 miles of downhill fun! (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  4.0 from 3 votes
Pony Express Trail fun (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.8 from 4 votes
Big rocks off Pony XP in Huckleberry Canyon (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Pony Express (XP) Trail (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.7 from 3 votes
Finish with a soak in the river... with your favorite beverage wrapped i... (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.5 from 4 votes
Flowers in bloom (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.5 from 4 votes
PonyExpress green room (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.3 from 4 votes
Final hike-a-bike on Pony XP before reaching the top of Lovers Leap. (N... (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.3 from 4 votes
Approaching a nice bridge on the Pony XP (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.0 from 3 votes
Fast descent... know that hikers and equestrians come up this trail! (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  3.0 from 3 votes
final push! (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.7 from 3 votes
Lovers Leap Vista (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.7 from 3 votes
N50 Singletrack (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Comfort Crossing (Pollock Pines, CA)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Yes theres a trail in there! (Pollock Pines, CA)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Views on the Ascent (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Start of Lovers Leap Descent (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Lovers Leap Trail (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.0 from 3 votes
Climbers! Dont throw rocks off the cliff. (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  2.0 from 3 votes
I really need to take better pictures... (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
  1.7 from 3 votes
Descent to Kyburz (Pollock Pines, CA)
  1.7 from 3 votes
Trails in there somewhere (South Lake Tahoe, CA)