Stanford Rock is a big, long, sometimes punishing, climb followed by a great technical descent on "old school" singletrack with lots of rocks and steps. It's great for those who like technical descents and can handle lots of rock steps.
The climb is mostly forested with some great views along the second half of the climb. Be sure to stop here and there on the descent on the Tahoe Rim Trail - Tahoe City to PCT/Granite Chief Wilderness/Twin Peaks
. There are some amazing views of Twin Peaks, the Pacific Crest, epic fields of alpine wildflowers, aspen groves etc. Bring a camera!
Be prepared! Carry tools, pump, tube. It's a long hike out to Ward Creek Road. Tubeless tires or high pressure is recommended for the descent. Practice sound risk management, especially your first time down. Have fun!
We start this ride in Ward Creek State Park, just off the bike path along Hwy 89 on the Ward Creek-Stanford Rock Connector
. The traditional start to this ride was on Ward Creek road and started with an immediate creek crossing followed by an immediate climb. Start with dry feet and an easy warm-up with this version.
From the Ward Creek-Stanford Rock Connector
, make a left at the old logging road, Stanford Rock Trail
, and start climbing! Most of the climb follows a decommissioned logging road and is steep in parts. The climb is one of the harder continuous climbs in the Tahoe Basin. You'll be climbing for about 5.5 miles with few breaks. It is 100% rideable but a challenge to clean the whole thing.
Just past the first large open meadows, there is a nice view spot overlooking Lake Tahoe, Blackwood Canyon, and into Desolation Wilderness. Check it out and keep climbing!
The top of the climb is obvious and has amazing views. Prepare for the descent!
Make a right turn onto the Tahoe Rim Trail - Tahoe City to PCT/Granite Chief Wilderness/Twin Peaks
at the "T" intersection (where the trail flattens out after the first descent) and descend toward Ward Creek Road (going straight will bring you into Granite Chief Wilderness and the PCT/TRT). Everything on the descent is rideable but requires some low-speed rock descending, picking good lines, and local knowledge. Look out for lots of steps!
Ride cautiously, check out sections on foot if you aren't sure about the lines, and practice good risk management. The descent is 100% rideable once you see the line. There is no training benefit to an endo on sharp granite! It's a fun but technically challenging descent on an old school trail.
The trail turns into old fire road after the Ward Creek, TRT bridge. Follow the old road downhill until it dumps you off onto Ward Creek Road. It's an easy downhill road burn back to the start, just head toward toward the lake and you'll find your way back.
Check out the waterfall next to the trail! Also, stop in the first big meadow on the descent. Great views of Twin Peaks, the Sierra Crest, Aspens, wildflowers, etc.
TAMBA (Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association) volunteers, in cooperation with the Forest Service, completed a partial reroute of the descent in Fall 2015. "The Corkscrew," an unsustainable fall line downhill trench, was rerouted into sweet flowing singletrack to the TRT intersection (with some rock features and banked turns!). TAMBA is currently working on permission to realign parts of the climb as well to turn this into a world class loop.