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West Shore Backcountry Lakes Tour

Difficult
 3.2 (9) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A big West Shore loop featuring 6 lakes, 3 cabins, and some rocky, technical singletrack.


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Map Key

19.4

Miles

31.3

KM

50%

Singletrack

7,693' 2,345 m

High

6,283' 1,915 m

Low

2,133' 650 m

Up

2,135' 651 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

21%

Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown

Overview

This West Shore Backcountry Lakes Tour featured ride includes six backcountry alpine lakes, three cabins, some tough climbs, and some rocky technical descents. You'll head out on the world famous Rubicon Jeep Trail to Richardson Lake, then return via Lost Lake Trail and General Creek Trail.

The outer parts of this ride skirt the edge of Desolation Wilderness and have a really feel remote. The crown jewel of this ride is the turnaround point at Lost Lake. Lost Lake is a gorgeous natural alpine lake with sunny granite outcroppings, great views, and is deep enough for swimming.

There are a couple of hike-a-bike sections along the slot canyon of General Creek Trail, but the views are great. Expect 3-5 minutes of hike-a-bike on the way down.

Bring a camera!

Description

I placed the start and end of the ride at the entrance to Sugar Pine Campground, but you could start anywhere in the neighborhood and make your way through the neighborhood to the Rubicon Jeep Trail.

The first two miles of the Rubicon Jeep Trail are paved up to the staging area. From the end of the pavement, you'll climb to McKinney Lake on a mix of gravel to loose cobble and big rocks. The ride along the Rubicon Jeep Trail ranges from easy and flat, to some tough sections on loose cobble and picking lines around large rocks. Also look out for some large mud puddles in spring!

Along the Rubicon Trail, you pass by McKinney Lake, Lily Lake, Miller Lake, and Miller Meadows (which has a seasonal pond, open meadows, and great spring flowers). Immediately after Miller Lake, you'll make a left turn onto the Richardson Lake Trail (jeep road). On the way out (past the cabin), you'll see an old road spur to the left, this is the start of Lost Lake Trail and General Creek Trail. You'll be coming back to this trail after the side trip to Richardson Lake. The TRT/PCT drops into Richardson Lake, but is sadly not bike legal.

There is a little known Sierra Club hut- the Ludlow Hut- just past Richardson Lake. It's worth the 1/4 mile side trip for a visit and pics. The hut is not visible from the lake.

From Richardson Lake, turn around and head back to Lost Lake Trail. The trail quickly turns to singletrack (long abandoned jeep road), and has a remote feeling. After climbing for approximately 1/2 mile, and passing the intersection for the wilderness section of General Creek Trail, you'll descend to the first crossing of General Creek. In big snow years, there can be a lot of water flow. This is an easy crossing.

Safety Note - During spring snow melt, the lower crossing of General Creek can be really dangerous. If the upper crossing (first crossing) is swift and deep and sketchy, I would not attempt the lower crossing (where the trail crosses in a slot canyon). Use good judgement. The creek crossings are usually easy by mid-June.

After the General Creek crossing, you'll pass the General Creek Trail intersection and start heading up toward Lost Lake. The first climb to Lost Lake is steep, technical and rocky. It is rideable, but very difficult. Be prepared for a dismount or two. The trail quickly levels off and becomes more manageable all the way to Lost Lake.

Approximately 1.5 miles past the intersection, you'll see Duck Lake on the left side. It's a pretty natural alpine lake and worth a side trip and pics. Duck Lake is usually shallow though. Continue another 0.2 miles to Lost Lake and the end of the trail. Eat snacks, take pics, soak up some sun, go swimming! It's almost entirely downhill back to the starting point.

Descend back to the General Creek and make a right turn. This is a rocky technical section, with a few required dismounts. Here is also a short hike-a-bike section down to the lower crossing of General Creek. After the crossing, you'll stay on General Creek Trail, and finish with Sugar Pine Campground Trail. There are two sets of rock stairs on General Creek Trail that are rideable, that that is the toughest obstacle. The trail starts to wind back and forth, meandering its way back to Lake Tahoe.

I rated this ride as a single black diamond, but there are some tricky technical sections and mandatory dismounts on General Creek Trail. Scout your lines first if unsure. As always, be prepared with a well functioning bike, food, and water, and a map. (I recommend the Adventure Maps Lake Tahoe Basin, by far the best local map or use the MTB Project mobile app). It's a long way out to the nearest road, and there is no cell service for much of this ride.

Please write a comment if you do this ride. I live in the neighborhood here and rarely see people out this far!

Contacts

Shared By:

S. Lengyel

Trail Ratings

  3.2 from 9 votes

#3076

Overall
  3.2 from 9 votes
5 Star
11%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
22%
2 Star
33%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#398

in California

#3,076

Overall
47 Views Last Month
5,500 Since Jun 13, 2016
Difficult

0%
0%
0%
14%
71%
14%

Photos

Lost Lake. Why I ride. And why I get off the bike to explore.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
Lost Lake. A gorgeous natural alpine lake on the edge of Desolation Wilderness.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
Abandoned cabins at Miller Meadows, one of the great parts of this ride.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
Duck Lake.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
Keep your eyes peeled for unexpected hidden gems on Lost Lake Trail.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA
The Sierra Club Ludlow Hut - just past Richardson Lake.
Jun 13, 2016 near Tahoma, CA

Weather


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Check-Ins

Sep 5, 2020
Chaz Dunn
Trail was not the best 19.4mi — 10h 00m
Jul 11, 2020
Ian Geocaris
Jul 11, 2020
David Zemke
Jul 9, 2020
John Hardy
Jeep track, full of boulders, some jeeps. Forest singletrack fallen trees, but can navigate around. Incredible view. Walk down general creek trail 19.4mi
Jun 21, 2020
David Lindstedt
Loop without Lost Lake — 3h 15m
Jun 16, 2019
Eli Makus
Went up General Creek Trail and the water was too fast and deep to cross over and continue to Lost Lake. Otherwise conditions were good. 10mi — 1h 30m
May 27, 2018
Joel Maus
Started up Rubicon in the evening and only got to Miller Lake as sun was fading. Rubicon is a challenging climb- lots of rock and lots of water. 13mi
Aug 6, 2016
Winston Jaugan