Christmas Valley a solid Lake Tahoe fall bike ride
By the numbers
Approximately 1,500 elevation gain
1,500 singletrack descent over 3 miles
Nearly 5.5 miles of total singletrack
Intermediate to Advanced
MEYERS, Calif. — Need a quick fall mountain bike option this weekend before the season comes to a close? Consider the Christmas Valley Trail near South Lake Tahoe, outside of Meyers near Highway 89.
Fair warning, the final 3 miles of downhill singletrack are pretty technical and probably won’t be a great choice for anyone below at least a strong intermediate mountain biking ability level.
If you plan on doing the full loop without a car shuttle, it will also involve an — at times aggressive — roughly 1,500-foot elevation gain on a combination of road and trail.
But if you are all about a trail that rewards you with a challenging, near-continuous 3-mile downhill finish, this will be a great choice.
From the trailhead, the first section of the loop involves a steep climb on Upper Truckee Road to Highway 89. From there, riders have option of continuing on Upper Truckee or taking a right on Highway 89 — both come back together where the Tahoe Rim Trail crosses the highway.
Staying on Upper Truckee will avoid highway traffic. To continue the loop, you want to turn right onto the Tahoe Rim Trail — there is a trailhead sign for Big Meadow. The road portion involves roughly 700 feet of the total climb and can be shortened with a car shuttle.
From the Tahoe Rim Trail access, the climb continues for another 2.2 miles with a break while passing through the flat and scenic Big Meadow. Be sure to stay on the Tahoe Rim Trail; there is a turnoff for Scotts Lake 0.5 miles into the trail.
After Big Meadow, the climb continues a little over a mile to a ridgeline trail junction where the Christmas Valley trail begins and the Tahoe Trim trail continues to Round Lake. With the climb finished, this is a great spot for a break.
From there, the roughly 1,500-foot descent makes for a pretty thrilling ride spread over 3 miles of technical downhill singletrack back to the Christmas Valley trailhead. With alpine meadows, thick pine groves and a touch of fall colors, riders will enjoy an equally scenic and challenging ride.
Getting there: From Meyers, take Highway 50 South a short distance and look for the turn off for Upper Truckee Road on the left. Continue nearly 4 miles to the Christmas Valley Trail parking lot — you can’t miss it. Parking is on both sides of the road with the trailhead located on the right.
To Shuttle: Park a car at the Christmas Valley Trail’s end and drive a shuttle car up to the Tahoe Rim Trail access point. There is roadside parking and additional parking at the Big Meadow Campground. This will cut roughly 700 feet of elevation gain out of the ride.