Singletrack officially finished near Truckee |

Singletrack officially finished near Truckee

Seven miles of new singletrack trail linking the Sawtooth Trail in Sierra Meadows with Watson Lake and the Tahoe Rim Trail has officially opened.

Seven miles of new singletrack trail linking the Sawtooth Trail in Sierra Meadows with Watson Lake and the Tahoe Rim Trail has been officially completed in the Truckee area.

The Truckee Trails Foundation recently announced the opening of the Big Chief Trail, a project completed in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, and Northstar California Resort.

“The Truckee Trails Foundation is thrilled with the outcome of this project,” said Andy Buckley, Truckee Trails Foundation president, in a news release. “Our crew, together with (U.S. Forest Service) personnel and countless volunteers worked extremely hard to complete the effort by the end of last season.”

The trails foundation proposed the trail to the forest service several years ago. The project was then made possible after an agreement with Northstar to develop a 1-mile connection on their land. Work began in May of 2018 and finished as snow began falling last November.

The trail is open to all non-motorized vehicles, and has features designed for mountain bikers.

“The upper section provides a little different flavor to the lower part of the Big Chief Trail,” said Garritt Cusack, a crew leader on the project. “There are two decent size rock drop features, a large armored turn and a slough of other rock rolls and techy sections.”

The trail also includes views of Sierra Crest and Squaw Valley, said Cusack, along with “good flowy turns and twisty singletrack that takes you to the beautiful rock rolls and Big Chief climbing area. After a long log ride you cross into a short pedal section that ties into the lower piece of trail where you’ll find small tabletops, some built up berms, and a bit of rippin’ fun.”

“The features, along with the incredible views, are what really make this trail,” said, Truckee Trails Foundation Executive Director Allison Pedley. “With names like ‘Log Ride,’ ‘Nathaniel’s Bench,’ ‘The Chutes,’ and ‘Super Rock Berm,’ our trail crew put a lot of thought and love into the technical components of their work.”

In the past it had been possible to get from Sawtooth Trail to the Tahoe Rim Trail via user-created, illegal trails, but many of those encroached on sensitive locations.

“The problem from the forest service’s standpoint was a lot of those trails were built around really sensitive areas — archaeological resources, bald eagle nesting, deer fawning habitat, and all kinds of things that if you’re not a resource specialist you don’t know you’re building on a sensitive area,” said Pedley. “That was one of the reasons the forest service allowed this trail. We can have a really nicely built trail that avoids those sensitive areas that can be maintained and sustained in a way that will protect the resources and get people where they want to go.”

The project received substantial funding, according to the trails foundation, from the National Forest Foundation and Recreation Equipment, Inc. Northstar and Vail Resort’s EpicPromise program also provided funding and employee volunteer days. Grant funding for the project was roughly $160,000, according Pedley, and roughly 30 people showed up to each of the handful of volunteer days to build out the trail. The forest service also contributed substantial labor to the project.

“It was a huge community effort,” said Pedley. “It’s kind of the first big trail in a while, and so the community was super excited to get involved. We couldn’t have built the trail without the forest service. We couldn’t have built it the way we did without Northstar, without hundreds of volunteers, and a really great crew from our end. We’d love to see more of these projects happen, and this is how it’s going to have to happen. Hopefully this is going to build enthusiasm.”

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony for Big Chief Trail at the Northstar trailhead (intersection of Fiberboard Freeway and 500 Road) on June 28, at 3 p.m. A group ride will follow the ceremony. Northstar is offering free lift tickets to those interested in parking at the resort and bringing their bikes up for a ride on the trail. Those wishing to obtain lift tickets must contact Truckee Trails Foundation Program manager Leslie Loveland at by June 25.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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