Mountain Bike History Lake Tahoe

Add Lake Tahoe to Your Mountain Biking Bucket List

If there was a list of historic mountain bike sites that every hardtail and full-suspension rider needs to visit at least once in their life, Lake Tahoe should be near the top of the list. No, mountain biking wasn’t invented here, but it’s safe to say Lake Tahoe and the people that call it home helped shape the sport, bikes, and culture into what we know (and love) today.

For Lake Tahoe mountain biking pioneer, Gary Bell, it all started in 1978 while tracking-down some two-wheel fun in the Sierras. “I always liked being out in the mountains,” Bell said. “I wanted to be able to go further and just have fun on some trails.” The allure of the mountains drove Bell to help set the pace for Tahoe’s mountain biking roots and open Sierra Ski and Cycle Works in 1980.

Gary Bell Sierra Ski and Cycle works Lake Tahoe
Gary Bell opened Sierra Ski and Cycle works in 1980. Photo by Dylan Silver.

The development of early mountain biking in nearby Marin County hadn’t gone unnoticed as Bell soon began transforming old steel-frame bicycles into custom “klunkers” complete with motorcycle handlebars, drum brakes, and balloon tires to help him navigate Tahoe’s rugged and primitive trail system. At the same time another Tahoe local, Max Jones, was busy building trails, including the legendary Flume Trail to the north.

Klunker bike built by Gary Bell
One of five “Klunkers” built by Gary Bell and his buddies in 1979. Photo by Gary Bell

In the early days, Lake Tahoe had fewer trails as well as people using them. Most of today’s established rides had yet to be blazed or were being used for different reasons. An area favorite, the smooth-rolling Powerline Bike Trail, was originally a jeep trail that has since narrowed down to superb single-track. 

The epic Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride wasn’t completely connected either. It took the work of Gary and a handful of friends to bring together a myriad of existing trails into the endurance testing experience it is today (on bikes with little or no suspension). “Of all the trails around Lake Tahoe, I think Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride has kept the original feel more than others.” Bell said. He credited respectful riding etiquette for helping to retain the original character. 

“There’s a chance that parts of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride could get too gnarly for you. Instead of trying to make an easier way down on your own, we like to see people just walk their bikes down and not make new trails,” Bell said. Besides staying on existing trails, following simple mountain bike etiquette like giving right-of-way to uphill riders, not littering, and riding under control can go a long way toward making everyone’s outdoor experience a little more enjoyable. Bell practices what he preaches, having been one of the founders of the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) in 1988.

Mr Toad's Wild Ride

Lake Tahoe as a World Class Biking Destination

Today, bikers visiting Lake Tahoe can still ride the same trails Gary and Max did but also have dozens of others to explore thanks in-part to Gary Bell’s continuing advocacy for mountain biking in the area. The efforts made by TAMBA in recent years has also helped expand and preserve more area trails, securing Lake Tahoe as a world class mountain biking destination.

Lake Tahoe’s unique and positive cycling culture extends far beyond the trails and into the surrounding streets with Lake Tahoe recently recognized as a Bike Friendly Community. Cyclists of all types can enjoy miles of family-friendly bike paths, knowledgeable shops, and locals that share the same pedal-powered passion. 

For the road cyclist, the famed loop around Lake Tahoe is 72 miles of unforgettable scenery with deep blue water, Douglas Fir groves, and breathtaking views the entire way. For the hardcore rider, the annual Tour de Tahoe is a chance to test yourself against some of the area’s best.

Road Biker riding on the road overlooking Lake Tahoe

If you’re ready to get out and ride but don’t know where to start, check out our four favorite trails to ride. Can’t bring your own bike, no problem! Lake Tahoe has plenty of bike rental options to choose from.

Check out Mountain Biking Lake Tahoe on Instagram:

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Spring or Summer: Why June is the Perfect Time to Visit Lake Tahoe

It’s easy to find a great time to visit Lake Tahoe’s south shore! June is a particularly wonderful time to experience the lake and its surrounding areas as they transition from the vibrant colors of spring to the breathtaking beauty of summer.

Hit the Trails

Find your trail in South Lake Tahoe. Photo by Heavenly Mountain.

Whether by foot or by bike, you’re sure to find miles of trails to explore on your next trip to South Tahoe. The 165-mile hike around the Tahoe Rim Trail is the ultimate Tahoe hiking experience and offers stunning views of the entire lake. For those that prefer to be on two wheels, the Flume Trail boasts amazing panoramas of the lake and surrounding mountains without getting too technical.

Nevada State Fair – Mills Park in Carson City – June 13-16, 2024.

NV State Fair | Photo courtesy of Visit Carson City

Nevada State Fair returns to Carson City, Nevada’s great capital. Four fun filled days of entertainment, carnival rides, culture, music and so much more. June 13-16th, the Nevada State Fair is proud to celebrate our great State of Nevada. Come on out and enjoy our beautiful June weather with a full day of activities at Mills Park.

Thursday June 13th: 1pm – 10pm
Friday June 14th: 11am – 10pm
Saturday June 15th: 11am – 10pm
Sunday June 16th: 11am – 10pm

Free to the public – no entry fees. Nevada State Fair is an outdoor event.

*Dogs are allowed on leash only.
*Entering and/ or leaving the venue with alcohol is not permitted.

More info: www.NevadaStateFair.org

The Nevada State Fair was originally founded in 1874 and had been Nevada’s longest-running event. The Board of Directors for the Nevada State Fair met on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 and decided to close, ending a 136-year run (1874-2010). In August of 2013, a completely new Nevada state non-profit company was formed to continue the legacy. With collaborative efforts from both state and private sectors, the Nevada State Fair is welcomed back and is pleased to be held in Carson City.

Free Events

Tahoe Bike Month

Mountain Bike Tahoe sunset

Tahoe Bike Month. Gather your friends, family, and coworkers for a month-long celebration of biking in Tahoe. Together with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition is celebrating 18 years of Bike Month starting June 1st. Ride your bike to work or school, around town, or just for fun!

Attractions

Heavenly Village Summer Concert Series

Heavenly Village starts its Summer Concert Series on Thursday, May 5, with a special preview of the summer excitement to come with Mariachi Cazadores for Cinco de Mayo. The official series kicks off on Memorial Day Weekend and runs through Labor Day Weekend.

All genres of music will be featured, with most shows on Fridays and Saturdays, holiday Sundays and the week of the 4th of July holiday, and American Century Championship Golf.

The free shows in this series are held on the stage between the Fire and Ice and Gunbarrel Tavern restaurants from 5:45 p.m to 9:15 p.m.

The Village is located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way surrounding the Marriott resorts and gondola. The parking garage is $5 after 5:00 pm. Except holidays.

The events, which last through Labor Day, are held every Friday and Saturday (with a Sunday/Monday bonus over holidays) and showcase the talents of both regional and national musicians.

Apart from being Lake Tahoe’s largest free summer concert series, what also sets the Heavenly Village events apart from other seasonal entertainment is its family-friendly environment.

Concerts are held either between Gunbarrel Tavern and Fire + Ice or in front of Azul Latin Kitchen. A complete schedule for the Heavenly Village Summer Concert Series is available online at www.theshopsatheavenly.com. Each show begins at 5:45 p.m.

Annual Hwy 50 Wagon Train, June 1 – 8, 2024

Ride in Celebration of California and Nevada’s ONLY BI-STATE HISTORIC EVENT!!
Wagon Train itinerary

Riding for only a day or for the whole trip, the wonders of this great land are truly appreciated as one travels down the road at an average speed of three miles per hour! Evening campfires, storytelling, and low key entertainment round out the experience. Families are welcome!

As early as the 1840’s, a trickle of humanity began the arduous journey toward the great Pacific and the freedom they foresaw in settling there. In 1849, the cry of “Gold” from the foothills of the California territory rocked the world! Leaving property and families behind, men traveled West.

In the early 1850’s, one of the major land routes to California, traversing what we now know as Echo Summit and the Highway 50 corridor, became known as the “Roaring Road”. Travel was so heavy; oftentimes, wagon trains were forced to wait for days to have their turn on the road.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “Gold Rush”, a Wagon Train was formed to travel west from Lake Tahoe to Placerville (Old Hangtown) along Highway 50. This “one-time” event was so popular that it resumed in 1951, and has made its annual trek each year since that time.

Waking up before dawn, savoring the rich aromas of coffee boiling, bacon frying, mingled with the clanking of harness, the soft knickers of horses being readied for the day, and the murmurs of the wranglers going about their duties draw one back into a lifetime of excitement and anticipation.

Tying into this event, join the Lake Tahoe Historical Society for the 3rd annual Western Days on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum complex. Entry and activities are free.

There will be tours of the museum, the 1930s log cabin, a peek into the 1860s Toll House, children’s hands-on activities, horse-drawn carriage rides, craft vendors, music by the Cash Only Band and Whiskey Wolves, and western entertainment and storytelling by David and Gayle Woodruff.

Chow down on BBQ and refresh Your thirst with a hard (or soft) beverage, and Much, Much MORE!

Find Your Beach

A family of four at Baldwin Beach. Photo by Rachid Dahnoun.

Each beach around South Lake Tahoe boasts different panoramas, personalities, and even sun exposure (hint: beaches on the western side of the lake see more early morning sun, and those on the east side are ideal for catching the sunset). Some, like Kiva Beach and Nevada Beach, are dog friendly. Others, like Emerald Bay State Park, offer boat camping and you-can’t-find-anywhere-else views of Fannette Island and the Vikingsholm Estate. And if you’re looking for something more exhilarating, like access to boating and parasailing, you’ll find that, too.

DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay

On Saturday, June 15, 2024, runners will once again run counter-clockwise around Lake Tahoe in the 59th annual DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay. Considered to be the oldest relay race in the country, the Lake Tahoe Relay began as a New Year’s gag by a group of college runners in 1959, grew into a tribute to a beloved son, and has evolved over decades as a family’s labor of love. With altitudes up to 6,500 ft. on the 72-mile course around scenic Lake Tahoe, this race is as fun as it is challenging.

The Lake Tahoe Relay teams have 7 people, each running approximately 8 to 12 miles. All runners will have the same team number pinned on the front of their shirts. The course closes at 8:00 p.m. Runners will be asked to leave after 8:00 p.m. for their own safety.

In addition to the team run we also offer:

(1) person 72-mile ultra-marathon circling beautiful Lake Tahoe. The event will start at 5:00 am at the start-finish line of the Lake Tahoe Relay. Competitors will have 15 hours to complete the course and must be done by 8 pm.

(2) person 72-mile relay. Each member will run 36 miles alternating legs as needed based on team dynamics. The event will start at 5 am, and teams will have 15 hours to complete the race.

This non-profit event is a labor of love and a memorial to Robert DeCelle Jr and Sr, beloved father and brother. All proceeds have gone to High School and Youth running programs within California and Nevada. All of the timers, workers, and the band are DeCelle family members or close friends.

Registration is available online. For more information, contact Sean at runtahoe@outlook.com

Heavenly Village Brewfest

Saturday, June 15, 2024, 1:00-5:00 pm, 7th Annual Brewfest at the Heavenly Village Lake Tahoe. Presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Jeremy Gilpin JFG Investments. Tickets

This awesome event will include:

  • Beer, 15 Breweries
  • Spirits
  • Kombucha
  • Soda Tasting
  • Live Music
  • Corn Hole
  • Paint & Sip
  • Age 21 and over – includes wrist band and a commemorative glass
  • $40 donation. Will sell out quickly!
  • A portion of the proceeds go to Christmas Cheer

For tickets and more info, click here!!

Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular Show at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular. 8:00 pm, Saturday, June 1, 2024, at the South Shore Room inside Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Ticketmaster.com

Paramount’s Laser Spectacular, the smash hit multi-media laser and light show featuring the original master recordings of Pink Floyd. In 1986, the Laser Spectacular was produced for the very first time in San Antonio, Texas. Producer Steve Monistere managed to turn the show into a worldwide, must see event!

Rock Tahoe Half Marathon

Run. Rock. Recover. Rock Tahoe Half Marathon on Saturday, June 15, 20243. Lake Tahoe’s premier running event takes runners along Lake Tahoe and finishes at the Golden Nugget Lake Tahoe Hotel & Casino. Runners receive a medal at the finish, live music and a pool party. If you haven’t secured a spot yet for this event, register today.

RUN in beautiful Lake Tahoe!
ROCK your way through some awesome weekend events!
RECOVER poolside with live music at the post-race pool party!

The Rock Tahoe Half Marathon starts at Spooner Summit and drops over 1,000ft as it winds its way down Highway 50 along the stunning East Shore of Lake Tahoe to the finish line and post-race pool party at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe!

www.rocktahoehalfmarathon.com

But Wait, There’s More!

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Our Favorite #VisitLakeTahoe Instagram Photos from the Month of April

Hello Lake Tahoe enthusiast!

If April showers bring May flowers, we’re curious what next month will bring. Take a gander at our favorite #VisitLakeTahoe Instagram photos from the month of April!

10. You have to see it to believe it

9. Lake Tahoe Bucket List Activity

8. Live at Lakeview will return!

7. Love on the slopes!

6. Spring Skiing at it’s Best!

5. Lake Tahoe East Shore does not disappoint

4. Summer vs Winter

3. Bring your Best Friend!

2. Another Bucket List Activity!

1. Eagle Lake Hike

No matter what route you take on your next Lake Tahoe expedition, please be sure to positively impact the local environment and wildlife along the way. As a city in the middle of a forest, South Lake Tahoe and its guests have a responsibility to keep wildlife wild by never feeding them and properly disposing of garbage in bear-resistant containers. 

Ready to be a next-level visitor? Picking up even a few pieces of discarded trash can go a long way towards “Keeping Tahoe Blue”. Click here to learn more.

Click here to learn more about the wildlife that calls Lake Tahoe home and how you can help keep them wild.

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Opening & Closing dates for Campgrounds, Beaches, and Forest Roads at Lake Tahoe

The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) has begun the process of opening National Forest recreational facilities in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Before recreation sites can be fully opened to the public, the Forest Service must complete seasonal hiring of crews and staff to manage sites, clean up from winter, remove safety hazards such as damaged trees, and wait for the danger of a freeze to pass before turning on water systems for restrooms. All opening dates are subject to change, due to conditions and weather.

Fallen Leaf Lake Campground Tahoe
Fallen Leaf Lake Campground at Lake Tahoe

Inspiration Point near Emerald Bay was the first site to open on April 27, 2024. Round Hill Pines Beach Resort opened May 1. Baldwin and Nevada beaches are scheduled to open May 4. The Tallac Historic Site parking area is scheduled to open May 15 and services (restrooms/trash) will be available beginning May 24. The Taylor Creek Visitor Center parking area is scheduled to open May 15 and services (restrooms/trash) will be available beginning May 29.

Campgrounds/Resorts

Day-Use Areas

  • Bayview Trailhead parking area/restrooms – TBA
  • Baldwin Beach and Nevada Beach – May 4
  • Big Meadow Trailhead parking area – May 25
  • Camp Richardson Corral – May 4, 2024
  • Chimney Beach – Mid-July (due to construction)
  • Eagle Falls parking area/restrooms – TBA
  • Inspiration Point – April 27
  • Kiva Picnic Area – May 22
  • Meeks Bay Resort & Picnic Area – May 10, 2024
  • Pope Beach – May 10
  • Sandpit Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area – May 10
  • Secret Harbor, Sawmill Pond – May 15
  • Tallac Historic Site – parking area May 15; buildings May 24
  • Taylor Creek Visitor Center – parking area May 15; buildings May 29

Until sites open, parking, trash and restrooms are not available, so plan accordingly. Do your part and pack out all trash. Where pets are allowed, always clean up after them and be sure to properly dispose of pet waste bags. Do not leave pet waste bags behind, if a trash receptacle is not available, please take them with you. Where gates are still closed, be sure to park vehicles completely off the roadway, avoid parking on vegetation, and do not block the gates.

Beaches and campgrounds around Lake Tahoe

A friendly reminder that pets are not permitted at the following designated swim beaches for public health and safety reasons: Baldwin, Camp Richardson, Meeks Bay, Nevada, Pope, William Kent, and Zephyr Cove beaches. Per the Code of Federal Regulations, in developed recreation sites where pets are allowed, pet owners are required to keep pets on a 6-foot maximum length leash at all times. For ideas for recreating with your dog, visit our Dogs at Lake Tahoe webpage.

National Forest gate and road opening dates are determined by the LTBMU Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) developed under the LTBMU Travel Management Plan. All dates are subject to change due to conditions and weather. View or download MVUMs.

For the latest opening date information and updates, visit the LTBMU’s Current Recreation Conditions webpage and follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website at https://www.fs.usda.gov/ltbmu.

Until Nevada Beach, Pope Beach, Baldwin Beach and Meeks Bay open for the season, you may access the beaches by walking in. The facilities have been winterized and there is no garbage pick up. So please remember Pack it in, Pack it out. This includes dog bags, Please do not litter the beaches. Help us keep Tahoe Blue.

National Forest beaches and picnic areas at Lake Tahoe are generally open Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. The length of the open season depends on snowfall conditions and may vary from year to year.

Pet friendly Tahoe Beaches

Tahoe beaches are popular and parking areas tend to fill up quickly. Plan accordingly and carpool, take public transportation, or develop alternate transportation solutions, such as walking, andbiking when visiting National Forest locations.

We encourage all National Forest visitors to practice responsible recreation. Do your part to maintain the health and safety of yourself and others by following these guidelines:

Pets are not allowed on designated swim beaches. Only leashed, service dogs are allowed entry to developed beaches. The Forest Service reminds dog owners to always clean up after their animal, including properly disposing of pet waste bags.

Campgrounds

For more information, contact the Forest Supervisor’s office at 530-543-2600, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin  Management Unit Facebook Page

Forest Service Tahoe National Forest Facebook Page

Forest Service Interactive Visitor Map

Check out Camping at Lake Tahoe on Instagram

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