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Mountain Biking

The Flume: A classic American ride

Lake Tahoe Flume TrailHere are three ways to enjoy this internationally recognized piece of heaven. None are more than moderate in athletic ability or technical skill required, but it is a good idea to pay attention in some of the cliff areas.

#1 Self Shuttle — Leave one car at the old Ponderosa theme park (closed) on the south end of Incline Village. Drive the other car to Spooner State Park where you will begin a five mile ride to Marlette Lake. This is the only uphill. It is gradual except for the last mile. Circle Marlette clockwise to the dam. This is the beginning of where the old flume carried water to the Ponderosa. The Flume is a single track in good repair with spectacular views of the Lake. Most traffic goes your direction but be prepared for on coming traffic. Snack above Sand Harbor. Continue down the low road to the east shore highway (NV 28), turn right and pedal to your car. (The low road can be sandy.) My traditional stop in Incline is T’s Mesquite Rotisserie, killer chicken burritos. On the way back to pick up your Spooner car stop just before Sand Harbor and swim out to the rocks of Secret Beach. (You can avoid the hassle of the Ponderosa shuttle by simply riding the east shore highway back to Spooner. This is mostly uphill and has little room on the shoulder for bikes.)

#2 The Loop — Park at Spooner, either fee parking or across the road for free, and proceed as above. Near the end of the Flume, instead of continuing down the low road, turn right up a relatively short up hill to the ridge crest. From there you can join the Rim Trail (slightly technical) which will take you back to Marlette, or continue down the Washoe Valley side. I like this way best. About a mile down this road a new flume will appear on your right. Follow the single track alongside the flume to a small bridge. This area is covered with Aspen trees and is quite spectacular in the fall. Portage across the bridge, turn right and head up the road towards Hobart Reservoir. As soon as the road becomes relatively level, hike through the willows on the right where you will find a fresh water spring bubbling up through the sand. Yes! The road you are on will take you on a fairly serious up hill to the ridge crest. From here you can look down across Marlette with Lake Tahoe beyond. Nice photo op. Continue down the road to Marlette, then retrace to your car at Spooner.

#3 Paid Shuttle — Max Jones and Patti McMullan run Spooner X-ski during the winter months, a first class operation accessing much of what is described above. (Max was a former Olympic Biathlete.) During the summer they provide a shuttle from Spooner to Mt Rose, above Incline. Info at From there you can ride the Tahoe Rim Trail back to Spooner or connect with the Flume to Spooner via Marlette. Great fun and hassle free.

Comments (1)

Great to have a trail ciiontdons resource like this on the TAMBA website. Especially this year, it has been extremely useful when planning my rides. But, I am not super familiar with every ride on the list. Is there a comprehensive Lake Tahoe basin mountain bike trail map? If not, TAMBA should create one and I’d be happy to help with this effort! Amy, hit me up.

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