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Painted Rock Loop via Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)



18.4 mile 29.6 kilometer loop
85% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,959' 597 m
Descent: -1,959' -597 m
High: 7,684' 2,342 m
Low: 6,268' 1,911 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)


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Trail shared by Nick Wilder

A long climb rewarded with some of the best views in all of Tahoe and a great descent.

Nick Wilder

Electric Mountain Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


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 lake views. And the descent, though a bit rocky, is great fun on a modern bike with big wheels and decent suspension.


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 then 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 downhill.

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.


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May 24, 2020
Ian Marozas
Oct 25, 2019
Conrad Wilson
Sep 15, 2019
Woody Ahern
Sep 8, 2019
Ravi Nandwana
Aug 22, 2019
Zach Rochon
Aug 10, 2019
Vincent Crivello
Oct 6, 2018
Jackie Tappan
Sep 7, 2018
Don Childrey
Rode the section from Painted Rocks back to town. 15.8mi

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 18 votes


in Tahoe City


  4.2 from 18 votes
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in Tahoe City


in California


154 Views Last Month
14,371 Since Jun 28, 2013



Yep, just another view...
Jun 30, 2013 near Sunnysi…, CA
June flowers on our way up to the Tahoe Rim Trail
Jun 30, 2013 near Dollar…, CA
These views don't get old!
Jun 30, 2013 near Sunnysi…, CA
The high point of this ride, and a damn fine place for a rest.
Jun 30, 2013 near Sunnysi…, CA
Careful riding along "Thunder Cliff" above the Truckee River
Jun 30, 2013 near Sunnysi…, CA
Scenic ride around Lake Tahoe via Dollar Point Trail
Oct 12, 2019 near Dollar…, CA

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