The old expression, “just like riding a bike,” is used to describe an activity that’s easy and comes as second nature — as is mountain biking on a paved path. But, what happens as soon as you make that turn and leave the civilized routes? Rocks, sticks and boulders might sound terrifying to the first-timer. Well, it doesn’t have to be. With the right bike and trail, you’ll be searching for your next mountain-biking adventure when you’ve gotten a taste of adventure.
Lake Tahoe is home to a vast assortment of bike trails and most of the attention is put on the big boy runs such as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and the legendary Flume Trail. Sure, the Flume Trail is a great option for those in great shape and Mr. Toad’s will test even the most experienced of mountain bikers. When it comes to the first timer, nothing compares to Powerline in South Lake Tahoe. It offers a taste of fun, rolling terrain with no extreme features or long climbs.
Since it was our first-time riding mountain bikes, we wanted to make sure we knew where we were. So, we picked up a Lake Tahoe Basin Trail Map from our local bike shop, Shoreline of Tahoe. You can find this map at any of the fine, local bike shops throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin. It highlights the best mountain-bike trails and paved paths along with short descriptions of each and even where to park. With a map in hand, it was time to head out.
From the trailhead off High Meadows Road, we nervously hopped onto our pedals. The first thing we realized was how smooth the trail was. The decomposed granite was like a hard-packed dirt making the ride quite pleasant. We meandered and zig-zagged our way through mostly large conifers and came up to our first hill. Holding onto my brakes tightly, I slowly descended the hill until we came on a beautifully well-constructed bridge. Getting off our bikes, we leisurely walked over to it. In the peaceful surroundings with nary a person around, the only sound was the rushing water of the creek flowing underneath. Pedaling off once again, we came on a fork of trails. Uh, oh.
Luckily, a wooden sign pointed us in the right direction and off we went. From here, we began a short climb and entered a set of sweeping turns that reminded me of tree skiing. This is when I realized why people get so hooked on this sport. Similar to back-country skiing, mountain biking gets you away from all the hustle ‘n’ bustle of city life, but at the same time introduces a bit of adrenaline-packed fun.
Dipping down into a valley, we met our first moderate climb. Shifting into our climbing gears, we sat back and began the slow, arduous task of going up through a tight, forested section. Nearing the summit, suddenly the forest canopy opened and exposed us to a view of Lake Tahoe. Putting my foot onto the ground, I took in the scenery while catching my breath. It was here when I thought for a moment: “What if I wouldn’t have pushed past my fears?” I would have never seen this view or caught the bug of mountain biking. | mtbproject.com
There are two major trailheads you can start from. The first and most popular is to head to the top of Ski Run Boulevard and take a right onto Saddle Road where it dead ends and the trail begins. The other option is to access it via High Meadows Road off of Pioneer Trail. Generally, this trailhead offers a lot more parking. Follow the asphalt until it ends and park or continue another mile up the forest access road to the terminal parking lot. The trail starts north out of the parking area.