Flume Shot

Bike the famed Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe

Skirting high above the east shore, Lake Tahoe’s famed Flume Trail is one of the most scenic trails in the West—an intermediate 13-mile high-mountain traverse with amazing views of that big blue lake. Riding the trail is like drinking a glass of fine wine: better to savor it than to gulp it down.

This iconic mountain biking trail was once a series of pipelines and box flumes used to deliver water from Marlette Lake to the booming mining towns. Today this topsy-turvy roller will have you gawking, smiling, and stopping to take in the extraordinary views. Beginners can do this trail but might decide to walk their bike for brief sections (no shame in that!). 

The best way to do this trip is by renting your gear from Flume Trail Bikes in Incline Village and taking their shuttle to the trailhead. 

The first 5 miles is a gradual climb to Marlette Lake (you’re almost there when the climb starts to burn your thighs). Then the Flume fun begins! Descending briefly through fragrant pine forest, you’ll roll out to the marquee section: flat singletrack slinking 1,600 feet above Tahoe’s east shore and weaving by granite boulders the size of Volkswagens. This is also the point where your adrenaline is likely to spike. The views, including a golden one of Sand Harbor Beach, are breathtaking. 

Those who don’t have a head for heights might not love some of the steep drop-offs, and there are a few sections where you’ll need to lift your bike up and over boulders. Be sure to pull over at one of the many vista points. (Remember: savor don’t chug!) The last 3 miles is a 1,500-foot descent on a wide dirt trail. Went down smooth, after all. Flume, yeah!

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