“The most challenging climbing on the highest section of the TRT, ending with Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.”
— John Harris
Covered in snow for much of the year.
This ride is a point-to-point from the Stagecoach chairlift at Heavenly to the end of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Saxon Trail #18E13)
. It's a challenging cross-country singletrack ride which includes the highest point on the Rim Trail (Freel Pass just shy of 3,000M). The trail takes in views of Nevada while climbing to Monument Pass and passes the beautiful star lake as the climb continues to Freel Pass. With most, but by no means all the climbing over, Lake Tahoe comes into view as you descend to Armstrong Pass, after yet more climbing the ride ends will a 900 meter descent of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Saxon Trail #18E13)
This is a long physical ride at high elevation that finishes with a classic technical downhill.
Need to Know
There is convenient parking at both ends of the trail. This trail is only free of snow during the summer months, even then you may find snow at Freel Pass. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen - you'll need both. Star Lake is cold but very refreshing if you choose to swim in it. You may want to pack pads for Mr Toad's Wild Ride.
Park at the Heavenly Stagecoach chairlift Parking lot. join the Tahoe Rim Trail by looking for the iconic Blue and White TRT signs and head South West to Star lake.
The first section of the trail climbs on the Nevada side of the Sierra, overlooking Gardnerville Ranchos, to Monument pass. Mostly singletrack, with one short descent on fire road, the trail winds through steep alpine forest getting progressively narrower as the drop-offs get steeper and the trees thin out. About 1Km short of Monument Pass the trees, and the shade, disappear and the steps start. As the guy in the local bike shop told me "Everyone walks the steps!". Strictly speaking it might be possible to ride them, but this is just the beginning of a long day and you might want to save some energy for later.
The power line pylon greets you at the top of monument pass and you can take a well earned rest, While you contemplate the next sction to Freel Pass that is now laid out before you.
The trail to Star lake from Monument Pass is a long relatively shallow climb around the contours that only kicks up as you finally approach the lake. At the lake you can take a swim or continue on the climb to Freel Pass
From Star Lake to Freel Pass is a tough winding climb over exposed granite with strength sapping sandy sections. Depending on the time of year you may also encounter snow here. This climb gets steeper the closer you get to the pass. Finally you reach the pass below Freel peak. If you are feeling really energetic you can hide the bike and climb to the top of Freel Peak. Alternatively catch your breath before the long descent to Armstrong pass
From Freel Peak to Armstrong Pass is a long descent on a steep mountain side on a narrow singletrack trail. The trail has two switchbacks toward the top but is otherwise pretty straight. Be aware there are a few technical rocky sections on this descent that can come up quickly on the unprepared.
From Armstrong pass the climbing starts again first across a steep hillside then onto the granite mountain top until finally it relents and you descend into the beautiful Freel Meadows.
From Freel Meadows the descent begins. At tucker flat take the Saxon Creek Trail
a.k.a Mr Toad's Wild Ride. There are a few very rocky technical sections at the top but after these the trail is pretty consistent all the way down. At the end of the singletrack join the Saxon Creek Road (FSR# 12N01A) to the parking lot.