You'll NOT be bored. This ain't no sissy road ride. 15-18 miles of non-stop, action-packed singletrack. Stellar views to boot. If you are up for a challenge, this is a great ride.
I logged 2,600 ft. of elevation gain without doing the last 3 miles on the Van Sickle Trail
; 1 Cat 2 climb or (2) Cat 3 & a Cat 4.
There is plenty of parking a stone's throw past Spooner Pass on Highway 50. The climbing starts immediately from the trailhead at a grade that averages about 10% (Strava Cat 3). All of the loamy pine needle switchbacks are pretty easy to negotiate. There are a couple of places to catch a view of the lake through the pine trees, so take your time and enjoy the alpine environs.
The climbing slacks off after little more than a mile and the trail rolls up and down the ridge and past Duane Bliss Peak on the left. At about 3.5 miles in, the climbing kicks up again and averages about 9% grade for 1.5 miles (Strava Cat 3). However, the climbing feels harder because you'll encounter more and more loose rock and rock outcroppings that need to be negotiated. Hang in there! when you are about ready to give up and hike it, you'll pop out of the timber and finish at a rock promontory that is one of the best views of the entire Lake! Take a long break and have a snack, you are not yet 1/3 of the way.
It is all downhill from here! At least that is what the map says, however, it is NOT as easy as you would think. You'll blaze down the next 2 miles on super fun singletrack, in and out, and around open pine forest to the Junction with Sierra Canyon Trail
, which is just past Genoa Peak.
From here, the riding gets progressively tougher with each passing mile. Don't get me wrong, it is still super fun! This trail just never lets up. I was constantly challenged with every possible obstacle. Up, down around and through, up and over; drops, steps, tight corners. This trail has it all. I felt like a kid putting every skill to use. There are not many places that give you a rest or even let you roll downhill for a spell. I felt like I had just done two hours of calisthenics, I think my arms were more tired than my legs.
As the trail drops down to Kingsbury grade, you'll encounter more and more trail intersections. For this ride, stay on the T.R.T. (Tahoe Rim Trail) which is clearly marked with blue & white triangle logo. Eventually, you'll hear the highway and pop-out on the Kingsbury grade on road 207. The T.R.T. continues across the road and starts climbing again.
The Van Sickle Trail
would be a great way to finish this ride as it is a very fun run down into town. To add Van Sickle Trail
to this ride, prepare for one last, tough climb on the TRT to gain the ridge and turn right when you meet the Van Sickle. I was pretty beat up after the first 18 miles of fun but challenging trail, so I opted to zip down the Kingsbury Road at a brisk 45 miles per hour and stop there.