10 Tahoe Road Rides
As the days get warmer road cyclists take to the open shoulders of local highways and byways, cranking up mountain passes and spinning freely on the flats.
Maybe you’re longing to don your spandex, clip in and hit the road but aren’t sure where you to go. These 10 great Tahoe rides, recommended by Tahoe and Truckee road bike shop experts, should help spur you to action. And, if we’ve missed your favorite ride, feel free to tell us in the comments.
Tahoe’s North Side
This out-and-back ride following historic Donner Pass Road to its west end is approximately 42 miles from the heart of Truckee in the Safeway plaza, home of Paco’s Bike Shop where you can pick up those last-minute needs. This route for intermediate riders climbs approximately 1,300 feet in both directions. Highlights include riding along Donner Lake, climbing and descending the steep and winding section between the lake and Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and less traffic than many area rides.
Truckee to Squaw
Great for beginning cyclists or for those looking for a “day off” this 26 mile out-and-back section is one of the only truly flat rides in the Tahoe Basin. Paralleling the Truckee River, cyclists enjoy a wide eight-foot shoulder the entire way even though heavy traffic on Highway 89 can often be a drag.
Squaw to Dollar Point or Sugar Pine Point
From the turnoff to Squaw Valley on Highway 89 at the traffic light cyclists can leave the busy highway shoulder and opt for a more peaceful riding experience along the bike path hugging the contours of the Truckee River. Follow the path to the “Y” at Lake Tahoe. From here, continue left toward Dollar Point (expect a climb on the way out) or right toward Sugar Pine Point. Each route hugs Lake Tahoe shoreline making this beginner ride a spectacular scenic option.
This popular loop ride generally starts in Truckee, continues south on Highway 89 into Tahoe City. Head east (left) on Highway 28 to Kings Beach, following the narrow shoulder on the lake shore for much of the ride. Head south (left) on Highway 267 at the traffic light and get ready to climb the gradual side of Brockway Summit. Although less steep than its north-facing side, it’s still a hefty climb with a spectacular view of the lake at the top (if you turn around). Follow 267 back into Truckee. This intermediate ride is approximately 75 miles.
Tahoe’s South Side
Follow Highway 89 south from Meyers up Luther Pass to the junction on Highway 88. Continue east on Highway 88 toward Woodfords where you’ll meet up with Route 206 (or Foothill Road). Follow this mostly flat road along the backside of Tahoe’s mountain before reconnecting to some elevation gain on Kingsbury Grade. Make a left toward South Lake and enjoy a gradual climb before descending into the basin on this 50-mile loop. Intermediate/advanced riders.
Old Echo Summit
Looking for some peace and quiet? Follow this road closed to cars just south of Meyers. Take the first right on South Upper Truckee and climb the old grade to that joins Highway 50 at the summit. For a fun descent, hop onto the winding highway (with a tight shoulder) for sweet views of the lake and an exhilarating ride. Another option is to make this loop ride an out-and-back by following the road you came in on. Beginner’s ride.
Jack’s Valley Loop
For Incline, south shore and Carson area residents, the area at the base of Kingsbury Grade is filled with great rides. A simple, non-technical loop starts with a left from the parking area at the intersection of Kingsbury and Foothill. Heading north, the gentle hills roll on into Genoa (the Country Store has superb deli sandwiches), before becoming Jack’s Valley Road. When you meet Hwy 395, take a right and head south on the wide shoulder, before going right again at either Genoa Lane or Muller Lane. Either will loop back to Foothill for a roundtrip of 35 miles.
For a shorter jaunt, turn right from the Kingsbury parking area, and go the opposite way down Foothill Blvd. After five miles, take a right at Fredricksburg Road, and another four easy miles brings you to Hwy 88. The whole road is wide, safe and has less traffic than the section toward Genoa. Turning around here is about an 18-mile loop or you can go across the highway for another section.
Crossing Hwy 88 from Fredricksburg Road, the road becomes Diamond Valley Road and heads southeast. When the road Ts after 2 miles, a right will keep you on Diamond Valley Rd, eventually intersecting with Hwy 89. Go right on the highway for about a mile, then right again on Hwy 88, before veering off to Carson River Road. This is the most scenic part, as the road meanders with the river and cruises through ranch land, before joining Diamond Valley at Hwy 88 again. Total loop is about 11 miles.