New trail construction in the Tahoe area doesn’t happen regularly, so the fact that we have not one, but two new trails that connect from the Tahoe Rim Trail in South Lake Tahoe is a big deal. One that I hope continues, thanks to the efforts of the recently revived Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association (disclaimer: N’s on the board, and I am a member).
Admittedly, one of them – the Van Sickle – isn’t completely finished yet, but still. It’s rideable, so it counts.
The US Forest Service recently finished a nearly 4 mile (according to my bike odometer) trail that connects High Meadow to Star Lake. This trail now means that you can ride from lake level (approximately 6300’), via the Cold Creek Trail, all the way to Star Lake (elev. 9200’). That’s a lot of climbing.
We decided to check it out last weekend, so N, my friend K and I met at the High Meadow trailhead, which shaved a few hundred feet off the total elevation climb. To get to the new connector trail, you can either ride up Cold Creek trail, which has a few technical sections, or up the High Meadow dirt road, a steep, albeit smooth, affair. Once up at High Meadow, we found signs for the new connector trail, which was beautifully constructed by a trail crew hired by the USFS. It’s a not-too-steep climb with fun rock sections, views at pretty much every corner, and the odd stream crossing and waterfall. Considering the elevation gain, it was pretty efficient. Way more so than the first part.
From there we rode the TRT towards Stagecoach. I’ve done this section in the opposite direction multiple times, and it was way easier in this direction. Sure there were a few uphill sections, but overall it was downhill.
Just above the last descent to Stagecoach Lodge, we followed the new trail to the Van Sickle Bi-State Park, which has plenty of the rolling up and down terrain for the first mile or so, which means every climb has an equal descent. We hit a t junction, with one trail going down to Van Sickle Park, and the other heading down to Heavenly’s Boulder Lodge. Our direction was Van Sickle, which meant we started to descend – big time. It will be a fantastic descent once fully done, but for now we had the added excitement of unfinished trail sections which required slower speeds and/or hike-a-bike. I’m hoping by next year it will be uninterrupted flow.
Because we had to head back to the car, we cut off the Van Sickle trail and headed back to Power Lines trail, which was a bit more challenging for me, as I realized I was bonking. N commented that he’d never seen me ride this beginner trail so slowly. But I had climbed around 4,000 feet in the 25 mile loop, so I felt I had an excuse.
It wasn’t a fab end to the ride, but the trail was awesome enough that I’m eager to ride it again, though I’ll pack more food next time.