When planning a trip to Lake Tahoe, making time to ride a bike trail is a must-do. Biking is one of the popular activities in the area, and for good reason. Lake Tahoe has numerous bike paths for visitors and locals alike to explore. Each bike path has stunning scenic views of the lake and there is a variety of trails for every riding ability.
The region is surrounded by alpine lakes, mountains, forests, and geological features. All of these elements create a haven for hikers and bikers and result in an abundance of trails to visit.
However, we understand that it is not possible to visit every trail, especially if you’re a tourist staying for only a few days. To make things easier for you, we’ve got a list of the top scenic bike paths in Lake Tahoe that you can’t miss, with both paved and mountain biking trails available. If you need to rent bikes while you’re in Tahoe, Vista Trail Bikes offers a variety of bike rental options.
paved Scenic Bike Paths in Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe East Shore Bike Path
Considered the most beautiful bike trail in America, the Lake Tahoe East Shore Trail consists of 3 miles of stunning bike-way. This iconic paved trail connects Sand Harbor State Path to Incline Village and boasts 10-feet wide paths that are available for biking, walking, and running.
The East Shore bike trail is very family-friendly, and visitors can bring children and pets along on the path with them. Additionally, several beach access points dot the trail, making it easy for bikers to opt for an impulsive swim if the mood strikes them. That said, if you do suspect you may be making a detour to the beach, remember to carry a towel and a change of clothes with you – you don’t want to regret missing out just because you couldn’t get the clothes you were wearing wet!
You can access the trail via the East Shore Express. Alternatively, you can also get there via your personal vehicle. Paid parking is available at the northern end of the trail, making it easy for you to unload once you get there. Take the day to explore the trail, surrounding beach access, and vista points. Or if you want to bike it without stopping, it should take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
One of the biggest advantages of this trail is that visitors don’t need to bring anything along with them when biking it – not even their bike! If you’re unable to bring your personal bike along, there are a number of bike rental shops available in the area, including Vista Trail Bikes, which offers everything from comfort electric bikes, cruiser bikes, kids’ bikes, bike trailers and more. All bike rentals come equipped with locks, handlebar pouches, and bike racks, allowing many visitors an ideal way to access the beaches and shoreline due to hard to come by beach access in the busier months.
Pope Baldwin Bike Path
The Pope-Baldwin Bike Path is a 3.4-mile paved bike path that runs parallel to Highway 89 and is maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. The name references two of the most stunning beaches in the area, both of which can be accessed via the path. Additionally, the name also references two wealthy turn-of-the-century families whose lakeshore mansions today make up the Tallac Historic Site.
The trail passes through several gorgeous spots, including:
- Pope, Kiva, and Baldwin beaches: giving you access to some of Tahoe’s most gorgeous beaches and bays.
- Tallac Historic Site: check Tahoe Heritage for seasonal information.
- Taylor Creek: their visitor center makes for a great bathroom stop!
- Camp Richardson Resort: open year-round with several ways to stay and places to eat.
- Fallen Leaf Lake Campground: reserve campspots from mid-May to mid-October.
It is a fully family and pet-friendly trail, so feel free to bring your children and dogs with you. You can even stop at the old-fashioned Ice Cream Parlor at Camp Richardson for a frozen treat for both you and your kids! That said, you must keep your dogs on a leash at all times, so make sure you’re prepared for this regulation.
You can access the Pope-Baldwin Trail through the Lake Tahoe (Taylor Creek) Visitor Center, which is located west of South Lake Tahoe, on SR 89. Parking is available at this site, as well as at both Pope and Baldwin Beaches.
Sawmill Road Bike Path
Sawmill Road Path is one of three trail segments that connect the community of Meyers to South Lake Tahoe. A paved path that is about 3.6 miles long for a round-trip runs adjacent to Sawmill Road through a canopy of trees.
The northern end of this path connects to the Lake Tahoe Boulevard Bike Path on the corner of Sawmill Road and Lake Tahoe Boulevard, which also allows you access to Sawmill Pond.
Activities at the Sawmill Pond include:
- Fishing: be sure to have the California fishing license and be familiar with state and federal laws.
- Relaxing: laying out a blanket for lunch or pulling up a lawn chair. This is a great spot to spend time with the family.
- Nature Observation: view the area’s diverse wildlife.
The southern end connects to the new Pat Lowe Memorial Bike Path, which leads you past several businesses on the way to Meyers, as well as the community itself. The trail is fully pet-friendly, and you can leave your dog off-leash if you prefer. Keep in mind that there is no dedicated parking available at either end of the path. Dedicated bikers can complete the trail within 10 minutes, though the draw of this trail is more the activities offered along the path rather than as a way to get your daily exercise in.
Mountain Biking Trails in Lake Tahoe
The Flume Bike Trail
This iconic Tahoe bike trail follows the path that was once used to deliver water to Virginia City in the 1800s. A 20-mile trail, it offers something for everyone – serious mountain bikers and hobbyists alike.
More casual bikers can access the 4.4 mile Marlette Flume Trail, which offers gorgeous views, as well as a relatively tame stretches of trail. You can access this part of the trail via Spooner Lake, where bikers can spend time resting and relaxing. This part of the trail is also family-friendly, allowing you to bring children along.
More serious bikers can instead opt for the Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride. This section of the trail is a 14-mile ride one way and has a number of steep sections, as well as over 1000 feet of climbing in the first four miles of the trail. Once you reach the summit, the descent leads you to Marlette Lake at the flat portion of the Flume Trail, which boasts stunning views and picnic areas where you can relax.
Unlike many paved bike trails in Lake Tahoe, the Flume Trail is not available year-round. It is only open for bikers when it is completely snow-free. This means that, depending on the weather and the snowpack, the trail may be closed if you visit in the early summer.
Bikers can access the trail via shuttle, which you can catch next to Tunnel Creek Café. The shuttle will drop you off at the trailhead near the Spooner Lake day-use area, and you can leave your car at the other end of the trail, so you can drive back once you’re done biking. If you are traveling without a mountain bike, you can easily rent one for the Flume Trail at a local bike shop.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Bike Trail
Also known as Saxon Creek, this iconic Lake Tahoe bike trail is mainly a downhill ride. However, it is a rocky, technical trail nonetheless, which means that it is best enjoyed by moderate to advanced riders.
The trail itself is 6 miles long and allows bikers to travel through forests and past boulders on the initial sections. Once you pass these areas, the path gives way to a series of sharp, fast, banked turns that you should be careful traversing if you aren’t an experienced biker. More information on trail difficulty can be found on Trailforks’ elevation chart on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride trail.
The challenge with this biking trail is less the ride itself and more accessing it. Bikers cannot access the trail directly. Instead, you will need to ride the Tahoe Rim Trail either south from Armstrong Pass or north via the Big Meadow Trailhead parking lot before hitting this trail. Keep in mind that you cannot ride up this trail.
Star Lake Connector Bike Trail
This is a relatively new bike trail in Lake Tahoe and was first opened in 2011. A 4-mile ride, you will be climbing over 1400 feet. It can be ridden both ways, ascending and descending, depending on your preference.
If you prefer a longer ride, you can connect with the Cold Creek Trail once you have descended from the Star Lake Trail. Alternatively, you can climb the trail, continue biking up to Freel Peak, and then descend down the Armstrong, Connector, and Coral trails.
The uphill ride can be challenging and should only be attempted by riders who have some level of biking experience. There are two perennial creek crossings on the route, and Star Lake itself is a gorgeous high alpine lake that you can stop and rest at. This route is only open once the snow has melted, and the elevation of the trail means that it is usually one of the last biking trails in Lake Tahoe to open in the spring.
You cannot directly access the trail via car or other vehicles. Instead, you’ll have to access it via High Meadow Road. The trail can be found on the south end of the meadow, off the dirt road.
Lake Tahoe is a stunning vacation destination for both hobby and experienced bikers. While it offers several other activity options, the scenic bike paths and mountain biking trails around the lake are definitely an experience you cannot miss. No matter whether you’re looking to enjoy a casual day out with your family or spend a few hours working out, you’re sure to find the perfect biking option for you!