Mountain Biking All Year: You Know You Want To
Ski to Ride. Wait… Ride to Ski?
Living and playing in Tahoe is all about getting outside. You don’t need fat tires to mountain bike this winter – sweet, tacky singletrack in the foothills is just 45 minutes away. Or head east and get a good ride in, all-you-can-eat sushi, then tackle your Reno errands. For extreme “cross-training” you can double down – ski in the morning and then bike until sunset. Start Haus in Truckee has the gear and expert bike mechanics to help you get out there. Grab your friends and your cooler and head down the hill for the day. Or take advantage of off-season lodging rates and take your posse to ride in the Santa Cruz or Marin.
Nevada City, CA
Just a 45 minute drive west of Truckee you’ll find warmer temps and great trails. You can access three of the trails easily by parking near the Harmony Ridge Market on Hwy 20 and hopping on the Pioneer Trail. The Pioneer Trail is 15.5 miles of flowy trails with rollers and some optional lines with berms and kickers. It’s an intermediate trail you could bring a kid or a beginner on and they’d do fine: the grade is gradual but there are some short technical root patches. Pioneer runs parallel to Hwy 20 and is marked with directional and forestry logo signs. There is also trailhead parking at White Cloud, Equestrian overlook, Skillman, and the Alpha Omega Vista. You can add on a descent from the Pioneer Trail by taking Scotts Flat Lake Trail, starting across the street and east from Harmony Ridge Market. Scotts Flat Lake Trail takes you down to the lake with perfect flow – twisty banked turns, tabletop kickers, and log and rock ride options. The 5.1 miles of singletrack trail is smooth with very few technical sections, but watch out – riders and hikers ascend it for an out and back, or you can follow Scotts Flat Road back up to Hwy 20 for a more gradual loop. Many also combine a Pioneer or Scott’s Flat ride with a lap or three of the Hoot Trail. The Hoot Trail lives up to its name: it has insanely fun and flowy banked switchbacks and optional jumps. But it doesn’t last long, only 1.3 miles of the 4 mile loop is singletrack, the rest is getting there (turn left 1/2 mile east of Harmony Ridge Market on the Pioneer Trail) and then a fire road climb back to the market.
Start Haus master mechanic Gregg Stone on the Hoot Trail
If you’re looking for a long advanced/technical ride, park at the trailhead by Poorman Creek to ride The South Yuba Trail. This trail offers legit, narrow and rocky singletrack winding through thick forest. It’s about 9 miles long and includes steep and rocky grades. There is another portion of The South Yuba Trail from Edwards Crossing to Purdon Crossing that is 4.4 miles of steep, narrow, and technical, offering great views of the South Yuba’s steep canyon.
Heather Benson rides the Confluence Trail
About an hour west of Truckee you’ll find a lot more great trails in Auburn. For the popular intermediate rated Foresthill Divide trail, park in the Western Parking Area of Auburn State Recreation Area. Stay to the right at the “T” in the trail for a 4.5 mile singletrack ascent (with a couple of downhills thrown in for fun) that loops back down. Or take a left at the “T” to go directly to the Connector Trail, fast, narrow singletrack that connects with the Culvert Trail – a full out downhill race track with high berms and jumps. The Culvert is meant for advanced riders: be prepared to catch a lot of air. The Connector is also a 7.5 mile link with the Confluence Trail. Although the Confluence starts with fire road, the trail quickly narrows to singletrack. The trail can be narrow in places and with breathtaking views high above the American River. This trail and the Clementine Loop aren’t for beginners or anyone afraid of heights.
About 45 minutes drive east of Truckee is a network of 22.6 miles of 95% singletrack trails in Keystone Canyon Non-Motorized Recreation Area in North Reno, Nevada. You can park at Rancho San Rafael and take the fun, flowy 2.6 mile Rancho Connector Trail to connect with 10 other trails, including The Halo Trail and Crispy Bacon Trail loop with stunning views and a fun descent with some rock obstacles. These are great intermediate trails, but check the wind forecast – if it’s a little bit windy in Reno it will be way too windy at Peavine. Go somewhere else. Also avoid moisture – if it has rained in the past week, don’t go. The soil in Keystone Canyon is red clay. If the mud makes contact with your bike, it will not only ruin your ride; it will ruin your bike. Seriously. If it’s dry otherwise and you see a mud puddle – ride around it. Back to the good – great singletrack and great change-up from forest. You’re 45 minutes from Tahoe and you can experience awesome desert scape and Reno city views. Then grab Pho and still have time to impress your partner by coming home with all of your Home Depot and Costco shopping taken care of.
These are just a few of the nearby trails that are accessible this winter. For more info and to map out your connections, try community supported https://www.mtbproject.com/ and also https://www.trailforks.com/.