I spent Labor Day Weekend bikepacking from Foresthill to Lake Tahoe and back. I wanted to get a taste of the California Sierra Trail Race route that was recently developed by Sean Allen. Sean is currently aiming for the inaugural race to take place in the Summer of 2013.
I’ve hiked a lot of trails near Lake Tahoe, but I had never bikepacked them. I reached out to Sean about his new route and he generously helped me create a shorter version that I could easily complete in 2.5 days.
After my dad kindly dropped me off in Foresthill, I rode a counterclockwise loop to Lake Tahoe, Donner, and back. I started around 7am on Saturday and finished around 10am on Monday. My route ended up being around 200 miles and 20,000 ft of climbing.
I opted for a lot of pavement at the beginning of the ride through the foothills, so I could reach Loon Lake by the end of Day 1. There were few options for getting water along this stretch. It got pretty hot and I was low on water when I unexpectedly came across a bar called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” along Ice House Road. Sitting next to leather-clad Harley riders, I happily downed two cold Cokes.
On the morning of the second day, I past groups of Jeeps on the Rubicon Trail, their drivers still sleeping in their tents. I took a nice spill while bouncing down a long, rocky section, but, thankfully, there was no damage to the bike and I just bruised my hand. After riding past tourists on the bike paths and roads next to Lake Tahoe, the Stanford Rock trail offered beautiful single track and amazing views. The nice, long downhill along the Truckee River dropped me into Donner. I stocked up on food and then headed out as the sun set.
On the last day, I really enjoyed the scenery along Soda Springs Road, a dirt road that winds through the mountains, connecting Soda Springs with (paved) Foresthill Rd. Once I hit pavement, I zipped back to Foresthill. I wanted to finish early, so I could avoid the holiday traffic heading back to the Bay Area.
In case you are interested, the map to the right shows the full route for the California Sierra Trail Race that Sean created.
GPX Tracks & Waypoints
Sierra Trail Race Sampler Tracks & Waypoints (zip file)
NOTE: this is just the route that I rode. I did a counter-clockwise loop on the outer routes and actually stayed on pavement on Foresthill Rd on my way back. My route overlaps with, but is not the official California Sierra Trail Race Route, which you can find here.
Also, after uploading the tracks to your GPS, please double check that all of the tracks uploaded successfully. When I did this initially, I ran into a problem where one of the tracks apparently had the same name as another track, so it would just load over it. I think I fixed it, but please double-check before you head out on the trail.