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Stanford Rock Loop

 4.1 (9)
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15.3 Miles 24.6 Kilometers



2,213' 674 m


-2,213' -675 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (15°)

8,430' 2,569 m


6,247' 1,904 m


Shared By S. Lengyel



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A classic West Shore ride - big climb, big rocky technical descent, big views!

S. Lengyel

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-


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!

Need to Know

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.

History & Background

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.


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Your Check-Ins


Nov 14, 2018
Jonathan Coupal
A refaire je ferais aller/retour!
Nov 7, 2018
Alex R
15.4mi — 2h 19m
Jul 23, 2018
Kurt Kahl
Awesome loop. Watch those stone steps on the descent, the steepest one bit me :) 15.5mi
May 30, 2018
Greg Johnson
Very snowy up top. Quite a bit of time hiking over snow. Give yourself an extra hour. 14.3mi
Oct 1, 2017
Corbin Dunn

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Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 9 votes


in Lake Tahoe


  4.1 from 9 votes
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JohnnyX Ride
North Lake Tahoe, CA
JohnnyX Ride   North Lake Tahoe, CA
S. Lengyel describes Stanford Rock well. I'll add that the five toughest zones of climbing come in the final third of the ascent, after the meadow area and lake view. Save a several "matches" for these zones, as you'll definitely be going into the red! The combination of required aerobic fitness, technical descending skills, and beautiful views, make this one of Tahoe's classic, old school routes. Nov 9, 2016
Any updates on trail conditions? Jul 13, 2017
Yes! Lots of snow above 8200' still. Good timing on your question. Jim "Buzzsaw" B (Tahoe legend for keeping the trails open) just cleared the loop of trees yesterday with a small group of helpers. Mum past Stanford Rock and in north facing slopes expect deep snow in spots. Still epic adventure! have fun! Jul 13, 2017

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