Painted Rock Loop via Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)

 7 votes
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Featured Ride

18.4 Miles 29.6 Kilometers



1,959' 597 m


-1,959' -597 m


7,684' 2,342 m


6,268' 1,911 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (9°)



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

Nick Wilder


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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4.1 from 7 votes

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Your Check-Ins


Aug 27, 2016
Don Nolan
Aug 18, 2016
Roscoe Dash
Tail start at 10:15 — 10h 15m
Jul 31, 2016
Bryan Brewskie
4h 00m
Apr 19, 2016
Clayton Dewberry
Holy shit. That is one mutha of a ride. Worth it but a severe beating. — 3h 30m
Oct 11, 2015
Clayton Dewberry
Sep 18, 2015
Ian Davidson
Aug 27, 2015
Mike Do
Jul 29, 2015
Matt Nelson

Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 7 votes


in Lake Tahoe


  4.1 from 7 votes
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in Lake Tahoe


in California


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Looking forward to this ride today! Oct 11, 2015

hard, long, severe uphills, rocky, bouncy. some great downhill sections, great views of tahoe. Oct 11, 2015

Rode on 06-26-2016. From the Description above, there are couple things I noticed. 1. There won't be much of confusion on the trails as of today. Once you cross the Dam and catch the trial to left. it takes you all the way to a paved Mt. Watson road junction (fork). Take a right on this fork and ride mile and keep watching your left side for TRT. The marker at that point says TRT, 8.0 miles to Tahoe city. The distance to catch the TRT is 8.5 miles. TRT is 8.0 to tahoe city. So the total diatnce of this trail seems like 17 miles; rather than 18.5 mentioned. I followed the GPS track attached. 2. It says the final 6 miles is downhill ride. There is so much rock/boulder riding, it mostly tough ride. you will probaly not feel downhil at all. In many sections you wil feel uphill eventhough you may going down due to big rocks. What did happen is, most of the elevation just dropped in the final 1/2 mile; this stretch you will come down really fast, loose, steep, rocky downhill that drops to TRT end, Fairway road. Also, - I am an intermediate skill. I wouldn't call/rate this trail Black since intermediate rider can fully do this without fear. There are bunch of rocky technical places but they are ridable. Good thing is trail rims are not eposed; so no fear/danger. - There is not much sight seeing here. Mostly riding through forest. Towards the end there are 3 or 4 excellent views to lake and truckee river. Overall, great trail for an intermediate rider. Good technical places to ride, learn and enjoy. Peaceful ride through the forest. Hardwork/tiring on few miles of rocks. Enjoy! G Jun 26, 2016

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