Photograph by Scott Markewitz, Aurora Photos
Encircling the largest alpine lake in North America, the 165-mile (266-kilometer) Tahoe Rim Trail just may be the singletrack with the greatest view in the United States. More than 80 miles (129 kilometers) of the trail are open to mountain bikes. In fact, the riding here is so sublime that the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) named the 21.8-mile (35-kilometer) section between Tahoe Meadows and Spooner Summit as one of its Epics, an honor bestowed on trails that epitomize the best that mountain biking has to offer.
For good reason: The trail takes in gritty climbs and fast descents with spectacular views of Tahoe to the west and the Nevada desert to the east. Nine miles (14 kilometers) in, you’ll split off onto the adjacent 22-mile (35-kilometer) Flume Trail, which starts at the Spooner Lake campground. Though not officially part of the Rim Trail itself, it’s the signature ride here, and it requires a decent climb and a bit of singletrack to get down. Just remember, it’s tough to keep your eyes on the trail with all those eye-popping views of the lake. One of the best things about the rides on the Rim Trail is that it can be just as much fun for novices as it is for fat-tire vets.
Need to Know: Some sections of the trail are only open to bikes on certain days. Many local bike shops provide shuttles for the point-to-point rides in the Rim Trail. Rent bikes and check in on trail conditions at Flume Trail Mountain Bikes (www.theflumetrail.com). Bike rentals start at $45 a day; shuttles from $15. Read about the trail at www.tahoerimtrail.org.