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Painted Rock Loop via Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)

Consensus:    (details)
 4.2 from 5 votes
  Difficult from 2 votes
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Rank: #9 in the Lake Tahoe area
#69 in California
#539 Overall
Featured Ride near Sunnyside-Tahoe City,  area, 
“A long climb rewarded with some of the best views in all of Tahoe and a great descent.”
Nick Wilder on Jun 28, 2013
Getting There     GPX File     Print
18.1 Miles 2,346’ Ascent 7,688’ High 4.9% Avg Grade
85% Singletrack -2,349’ Descent 6,263’ Low 19.2% Max Grade
Overview
This is a difficult loop. It's only moderately technical (at least in the counter-clockwise direction as shown), but the climbs are long and tiring, and route-finding is quite difficult in the first half (use the MTB Project mobile app). But the scenery is just stunning, from old-growth forests to huge lakes views. And the descent, though a bit rocky, is great fun on a modern bike with big wheels and decent suspension.
Description
Starting from Tahoe City, take the bike path north until you get to Village Road (look for a sign for the cross country ski area). Follow this road until it ends and look for a trail. There are many trails here, but it doesn't matter too much at this point, as long as you use the app and get on the right one eventually.

Find your way to Dollar Reservoir and have fun riding over the dam (or go around), and the follow dirt roads for a mile or two. This area is extremely confusing - did I mention you should use the app yet?

You now have two options:
Option 1. (shown here). Turn left on unmarked singletrack (named "Brutal connector to the TRT" here) and start heading up. The trail goes up and down a bit, but the middle section is a relentless 500' climb that most people will walk. The benefit of this option is you get up for some nice easy miles on the TRT. Follow the TRT for several miles of easy level, smooth riding on what must have been a road a long time ago. Arrive at 73 Rd and follow it for 100 feet before making an easy-to-miss left turn back on to singletrack. The next section is super fun, fast, bermed and buffed singletrack going slightly dowhill.

Option 2. Continue on the dirt road for a while longer until you get to The Great Ski Race. Take this fantastic singletrack for a couple miles until it ends at Mt. Watson Rd. Take the paved road uphill until you find the TRT.

From either option, you are now at the Tahoe Rim Trail - Brockway Summit to Tahoe City where it hits Mt. Watson Rd. From here, the trail enters a beautiful forest with nice, relatively moderate switchbacks. These are fun for a while, but this last climb is surprisingly long and tiring. You'll wander around the Painted Rocks (with a few side trails available to explore), before heading out one more ridgeline.

When you find yourself in a huge pile of basalt (volcanic) rocks, you're finally finished climbing. Enjoy the views and now the fun really begins. You now have ALMOST 6 MILES of downhill awesomeness with some of the greatest views of any trail. Stop once in a while to soak it in and let your brakes cool!

You'll end up right in Tahoe City just a couple blocks from where you started.
View in 3D
COMMENTS
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PHOTOS of Painted Rock Loop via Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)
 4.0 from 2 votes
These views don't get old! (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
June flowers on our way up to the Tahoe Rim Trail (Dollar Point, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
Yet another astounding view! (Dollar Point, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
The high point of this ride, and a damn fine place for a rest. (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
Whoosh ! (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
Yep, just another view... (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
 4.0 from 2 votes
Careful riding along "Thunder Cliff" above the Truckee River (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
 3.0 from 2 votes
Over the dam on Dollar Resevoir - careful! (Dollar Point, CA)
 3.0 from 2 votes
A flat section of the Tahoe Rim Trail (Dollar Point, CA)
 3.0 from 2 votes
Looking down at the Truckee River (Sunnyside-Tahoe City, CA)
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