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black Pony Express Trail (XP) and Lovers Leap Trail

  3.7 ( 9 ) Favorite

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23.2 mile 37.4 kilometer point to point
60% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,731' 528 m
Descent: -4,996' -1,523 m
High: 7,401' 2,256 m
Low: 3,964' 1,208 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 36% (20°)


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Trail shared by Nico Tripcevich

High quality singletrack starting on Echo Summit, passing over Lover's Leap and dropping to Kyburz.

Nico Tripcevich

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


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.


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Jun 17, 2018
James Kiss
May 6, 2018
Doug Brown
Upper sections, (Echo Summit to Sierra at Tahoe) snow-bound as of May 5. Spent my day hiking in snow with my bike.
May 5, 2018
Doug Brown
Jan 13, 2018
Strawbilly 1A
Jul 30, 2017
Dre Os
AAAAmazing fun. Top half is easy to stay on trail. Once you cross 50 its gets a little tricky ,we missed one trail and we ended up in manzanita hell 17.4mi — 3h 06m
Apr 25, 2017
Grant Ingram
Jun 20, 2015
Bill Warner
Time includes additional climb up Wrights Lake Road to Phantom Spires. 27mi — 3h 39m

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Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 9 votes


in Lake Tahoe


  3.7 from 9 votes
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10,858 Since Jun 21, 2013
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Chris McNamara
Zephyr Cove, NV
Chris McNamara   Zephyr Cove, NV
Here is a video of the section from Echo Summit to Strawberry -… Nov 27, 2017
Nico Tripcevich
Berkeley, California
Nico Tripcevich   Berkeley, California
Sounds like it's pretty overgrown below Wright's Lake Road. Nov 27, 2017
Overgrown in the kyburz portion of the trail near the Sugerloaf. Pretty fun narrow single track with some loose loamy switchbacks. I will be giving this trail some love in the next couple of weeks to keep it real. May 13, 2018

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