The Tahoe Flume Trail IMBA Epic Mountain Bike Ride

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Looking for the best views of Lake Tahoe from your mountain bike? Check out the Tahoe Flume Trail. This 24-mile epic ride starts at Tahoe Meadows and descents down into Incline Village with epic views the entire way. It’s an unforgettable experience!


The 24-mile Tahoe Rim and Flume Trail is the epitome of an epic ride with amazing views and varied terrain. Almost every stretch of this ride is scenic. There are beautiful meadows, quiet pine forests, an incredible lookout at Marlette Lake vista, and the Tahoe Flume Trail above the shores of Lake Tahoe is one of the most picturesque trails you will ever ride. Even the wildflower-lined fire road around Marlette Lake is stunning!

So if you’re in Lake Tahoe and looking for a big day out on your mountain bike, be sure to add this ride to your list.


About the Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail

Quick Stats

Start: Tahoe Meadows Trailhead
End:
Incline Village, Nevada
Miles long:
24 miles
Ascent:
+ 2,110ft
Descent:
– 4,367ft
Elevation high: 9,371ft
Time needed:
4-6 hours
*These numbers are approximate and measured by my
Garmin fenix watch

 

Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail (IMBA Epic) on Trailforks.com



What to Expect

Views

The views on this ride are absolutely stunning. Almost every stretch of trail has incredible vistas and you’ll be stopping a lot to take photos.

Climbing

Even though this is a shuttled ride, there is actually a substantial amount of climbing, so don’t think it will be all downhill. The biggest climb is the on Marlette Trail section after crossing Tunnel Creek Road. It’s a 2-mile climb with moderately steep terrain, but you’ll be at around 9,000ft so expect some burning lungs. The good news is that you top out at Marlette Peak with amazing views out over Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe.

 

 

The Tahoe Flume Trail is one of the most iconic trails around Lake Tahoe and it's part of the 24-mile Tahoe Rim IMBA Epic. It's a must for any mountain biker!
The Tahoe Flume Trail is one of the most iconic trails around Lake Tahoe and it's part of the 24-mile Tahoe Rim IMBA Epic. It's a must for any mountain biker!

Distance

This is a big day, so don’t underestimate the mileage. The whole ride is about 24-miles and will take between 4-6 hours depending on how quickly you’re moving. Also remember that you’ll need to drive up to the trailhead, which is about 15-20 minutes and if you shuttle yourself, you’ll need to retrieve your vehicle at the end.

Plan for a full day to do this ride.

Technicality

As for technicality, the Tahoe Flume Trail IMBA Epic isn’t terribly technical. Most of the terrain is rolling with a few punchy climbs and some obstacles that may need to be walked.

The 4.4 mile Tahoe Flume Trail at the end might actually be the most challenging part for some riders because of the exposure. The Flume Trail runs parallel to Lake Tahoe and offers incredible views, but there are some places where it would not be good if you went over the edge. You definitely need to keep your eyes on the trail and stop often for photos!

 

 


 

 


 

 



How to ride the Tahoe rim Flume Trail

Important! The first section of the Tahoe Rim & Flume IMBA Epic is the popular Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Creek trail. It is ONLY OPEN TO MOUNTAIN BIKERS ON EVEN DAYS. While this is an advisory and not ‘the law’, abiding by this recommendation helps keep the peace between mountain bikers and hikers.

Shuttle Options & Where to start

The Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail starts at the Tahoe Meadows Trailhead off of Mt. Rose Highway. There’s a large parking lot there with bathrooms.

Since this is a point-to-point ride rather than a loop you’ll want to leave a car at the end point which is the parking area just past Tunnel Creek Cafe in Incline Village. Try to get an early start, because the Tunnel Creek parking area fills up quickly!

If you don’t have two cars and need to arrange a shuttle, Tahoe Flume Mountain Bikes can help you out. They run shuttles everyday and you can book online. Choose the Tahoe Rim Trail Shuttle to do the full 24-mile Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail ride.

Alternatively, you can choose to just ride the Flume Trail via Spooner Lake, which is about 14-miles long, half of which is on the North Canyon fire road.

 

 

 


 

Trails That Make Up the Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail

Tahoe Meadows To Tunnel Creek Road

(Only open on EVEN days for MTBers)

The ride starts out with a spin through a beautiful meadow before ducking into the forest for 8.5 miles of rolling traverse with glimpses of Lake Tahoe to the right. There are a few tight rocky sections that may need to be walked, but overall it’s a really nice and mellow pedal with only about 1,000ft of climbing over almost 9 miles.

**Note that this is a super popular section of trail along the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), so if you’re riding it on an (even) weekend day expect it to be pretty busy.

Tunnel Creek Rd. To Marlette Rd.

This is the big climb of the ride. After crossing Tunnel Creek Rd., you’ll pedal for a bit before starting up a switchbacked climb that will eventually take you to the incredible Marlette Lake Vista. The first climb is actually pretty mellow, it just goes on for a couple of miles and gains about 1,200ft (and remember, you’re already at around 9,000ft!). You’ll descent for a bit and then it’s time for climb part two. The second climb isn’t as steep or long, but you’ll still be glad to make it to the top.

After exiting the forest, you’ll see Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe to the right. The viewpoint from above Marlette Lake is amazing and a great spot for lunch!

After a break and some food, bomb down the descent. You’ll come to an intersection, which is easy to miss since you’ll be going fast and the turnoff is a hard left. You can go either way at the fork, but the IMBA Epic route is to stay left at the intersection where you’ll pass through a campground. If you miss the turn and head straight onto Marlette Peak Trail it’s not a big deal as you will connect back into the IMBA route albeit a little extra climbing.

 

 


North Canyon Rd./Flume Trail Rd.

This section of the ride is on a fire road, but it’s actually quite beautiful and a nice, flat pedal. Wildflowers line both sides of the road throughout the summer and if you are riding in the fall, the changing foliage makes this section magical.

You’ll follow the road along the west shore of Marlette Lake for about a mile. There are a few places where you can hop off your bike if you want to cool off with a dip in the lake.

 

 


Flume Trail

Ok, this is where your jaw will drop. The Flume Trail is beautiful. The trail runs parallel to the northeastern shore of Lake Tahoe, but at 1,500ft up above the water so you have a birds-eye view of the lake and mountains in the background. It is stunning.

The only hitch is that parts of the Flume Trail are very narrow with some serious exposure. There are some places you do not want to fall. But the trail itself is mostly flat with little to none tech. Be sure to stop and take lots of pictures!

 

 


Tunnel Creek Rd.

The last section to the Tahoe Rim & Flume IMBA Epic is the Tunnel Creek Fire Rd leading to the Tunnel Creek Parking Area, where you should have a car waiting for you.

This is a steep double-wide path that is popular with hikers heading up to the Tahoe Flume Trail, so watch your speed and stay wide around corners. It’s downhill all the way.

Alternatively, you could take the Flume Trail all the way up to the Tyrolean Downhill if you still have some juice left in your legs. It adds about 8 miles to the ride and another 800ft of climbing.

But you’ll have to cross over Tunnel Creek Rd. knowing that there’s a cafe with cold beer at the bottom…


Tahoe rim & flume trail Considerations

  • This is a big ride at high elevation. Most of the Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail ride is above 8,000ft. If you’re coming from sea level, you’ll probably be gasping for breath even on the smallest of inclines. I’m not saying don’t do this ride if you’re not accustomed to the elevation, but just make sure you take it into consideration and allow yourself extra time and bring lots of snacks and water.

  • Water. There is potable water at Marlette Peak Campground as well as several small river crossings and at Marlette Lake. Always filter your water before drinking.

  • There is some hefty exposure on the Flume trail and it may uncomfortable for some people. When in doubt, walk.

  • Ride on an EVEN DAY. The nine-mile Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Creek section is closed to mountain bikers on odd days. Make sure you plan to ride this trail on an even-numbered day (for example, July 26th).

  • Allow for at least 4-6 hours to complete this ride. You’ll want to stop to take pictures, eat snacks, and rest at the top of the climbs. We rode it in just over 4 hours. Our moving time was quick, but we took plenty of breaks and photo ops.

  • While the loop is mostly well-marked, it is essential that you bring some sort of navigation guide like the TrailForks app or MTB Project or a printed map.

 

 



What To Pack

Riding the Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail is a big day without quick access to bike shops or amenities, so make sure you bring all the trailside essentials with you. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you for your ride:


Final thoughts the Tahoe rim & flume trail

The Tahoe Rim & Flume IMBA Epic is one of the best rides I’ve done in a while. With incredible views, moderate climbing, fun singletrack, and an ending that lands you straight at a cafe that serves tasty food and beer, this ride should definitely be on all mountain biker’s bike-it list. DO IT!

 

 


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