Christmas Valley is one of our yearly must do Fall rides. What this ride lacks in mileage (15-17 miles), it makes up for in sweeping views, fun foresty singletrack, oh yeah, and around 1900′ (5 miles) of descending. There is a side option to go to Dardanelles Lake, that adds about 2 miles (worth it, despite a couple hike-a-bike sections).
The ride makes a sort of lollipop shape, with a 2.5 mile out and back in the middle. Surprisingly, there are few cyclists who do the out and back past Round Lake to the PCT/Rim Trail Junction. Don’t skip it! There are epic sweeping views, a few tough (totally rideable) climbing sections, and rolling singletrack sections to a couple of turn-of-the-century historic buildings.
The side trip (about a 1 mile spur off the Xmas Valley trail) to Dardanelles Lake is worthwhile (with a few hike-a-bike sections).
This also makes a great trail run from the bottom to Dardanelles Lake for a midpoint swim. Well, if you like beautiful alpine lakes with great rock formations. Otherwise it’s just more boring Tahoe singletrack with views, granite, and aspens.
Fall 2011 is off to a late start due to an epic winter. Here are a few Fall appropriate pics from 2008.
Ride Details and Description
Here is a link to a garmin GPS of the ride. The ride can be done much faster if you don’t stop for pics. Or slower if you want to stop and enjoy- http://connect.garmin.com/activity/117252526#.ToC0st9SIAg.wordpress
Length– 15-17 miles
Elevation Gain– ~2400′
Where to Start–
Park on South Upper Truckee road near where South Upper Truckee crosses the Truckee River before it begins climbing toward Hwy 89. The ride starts with about 2 miles of paved climbing on a road with almost zero traffic.
Note- There is absolutely no reason to use a car shuttle on this ride! Many people use car shuttles to the Big Meadow Trailhead to avoid 2 miles of climbing with views and forests. Seriously, you can ride the 2 miles to the start. Shuttling to the top is lame (burns unnecessary gas, and creates unnecessary traffic and parking issues)- Earn your miles!
- From the parking area on South Upper Truckee Road start climbing on the paved road toward Hwy 89 (about 1 mile)
- At the Hwy 89 Junction, cross immediately over Hwy 89 and onto a paved Forest Service road through the Big Meadow campground. Follow the paved road all the way till it crosses back over Hwy 89 at the Tahoe Rim Trail Big Meadow trailhead.
- Cross Hwy 89 and start up the Rim Trail. The first 1/4 mile has a few hike-a-bike spots up stone stairs and switchbacks (if you can ride them you are a hero!)
- Continue on the rim Trail for approximately 5 miles to the “T” intersection of the TRT/Pacific Crest Trail. You’ll pass the Xmas Valley turn off and Round Lake. You’ll top out at about 8400′ as you go through meadows and forests. Enjoy.
- Bikes are not allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail. (In theory), it would make an excellent bike trail for a few miles in either direction. This is your turnaround spot. Check out the historic ranch buildings.
- Turn around and backtrack to the Xmas Valley turnoff. Left turn (downhill) on Xmas Valley Trail. In total, you’ll have almost 7 miles of rolling/descending singletrack back to the trailhead.
- There is a side trip turnoff to Dardanelles Lake on the left side shortly after the turnoff to Xmas Valley Trail.
Always practice Backcountry Trail MTB Ethics-
- Minimize car usage, car shuttles are not needed for this ride. Earn your descents.
- Park smart at the trail head. You don’t need to block the road or park right at the trailhead for a 15 mile ride. If it’s crowded, park down the road a ways.
- Ride in Control. Everyone likes to rip it on the mountain bike. Don’t let your need for speed ruin another trail user’s experience.
- Ride it DON’T slide it! Locking up your rear wheel trashes trails and is an indication of poor riding skills .
- Pack it out. Never leave tubes or trash on the trail. Pack out someone else’s trash if you see it. Even banana peels, and bits of GU/powerbar wrappers have an impact.
- Yield to other trail users. Stop completely for all horses and communicate with their riders. Yield to hikers. Uphill riders have the right of way.
- Help each other out. Share directions, trail knowledge, and mechanical assistance.
- Set a good example. Your actions in the backcountry have a direct impact on future MTB access.