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General Information: The ride around Lake Tahoe is almost an obligatory ride for any serious road bike enthusiast, but even for recreational riders, the tour around the lake is withing the range of possibility. At 72 miles with a vertical gain/loss of over 4000 feet, however, the ride around the lake requires some training before riding. With only two long, steep hills, the lake is well within reach of intermediate riders. Most riders choose to ride clockwise which keeps you on the lake side of the road for better views...and views there are. In addition to the views, there are lots of nice areas to stop and enjoy the lake.

Where To Start: Since this is a loop ride, you can start anywhere on the ride depending on where you want to finish.

Click here for a map and profile

Ride Description: We will describe the ride by section, starting from the South Shore and traveling in a clockwise direction.

South Tahoe "Y" to Meeks Bay: (Go to profile)

From the "Y" in South Lake Tahoe, head north on highway 89 toward Emerald Bay. After a couple of miles, you will see the beginning of the South Shore Bike Trail that runs parallel with the road, minus the cars! After three miles, the bike trail ends and you continue on the road. The road climbs past Cascade Stables then makes the steep climb through four hairpin turns up to the ridge between Emerald Bay and Cascade Lake. A fine lookout (Inspiration Point) exists just a bit further on. After a short steep descent into Emerald Bay, you climb again along the north side of Emerald Bay. Fantastic views are had all along this stretch. The road now turns north again and continues to climb for a mile or so where you pass the entrance to D. L. Bliss State Park. There is a fine beach here, but it is all downhill to the water...and, of course, all uphill back to the road! After you top out, be prepared for several miles of thrilling downhill to Rubicon and Meeks Bays. Meeks Bay has a small store and another fine beach to sit and watch the lake.

Meeks Bay to Carnelian Bay: (Go to profile)

From Meeks Bay, the road climbs a bit (nothing too long or steep) and continues north through some fine Red Fir Forest and past Sugar Pine Point State Park (a nice campground). The Erman Mansion is in the day use area on the lake side of the road and is an interesting historical building with a beautiful lawn and a dock. The campground is on the west side of the road (water available) a mile or so past the day use area. From Sugar Pine Point State Park to Tahoe City there is a bike trail that you may or may not want to use. It meanders about a bit and adds a few more miles and many road crossings making it somewhat inconvenient. Most serious riders stick to the road. The section heading into Tahoe City can get very crowded in the summer. Tahoe City has many places to stop for lunch or a cold drink. For riders wanting to extend the tour, you can take Highway 89 north to Truckee from Tahoe City, then come back to Tahoe on Highway 267 (Brockway Summit) . This adds about 20 miles and 1500 feet more climbing to the ride. There is also a bike trail for a few more miles from Tahoe City heading over toward Carnelian Bay. Three or four miles out of Tahoe City you will climb a short, steep hill up to Dollar Point, followed by a short, steep descent! The road from Dollar Point to Carnelian Bay is most flat with some short uphill and downhill sections.

Carnelian Bay to Sand Harbor: (Go to profile)

Continuing east now on Highway 28 (North Shore Blvd), you pass the exclusive (gated) communities of Agate Bay and Tahoe Vista, arriving at Kings Beach after a five or six miles. If you opted for the extended route, this is where Highway 267 from Truckee intersects Highway 28. Just a couple miles east of Kings Beach, you pass the state line into Nevada. You will know you are there when you see the CalNeva Hotel and Casino flashing an invitation for you to come lose some money. From the state line, continue east on 28 keeping an eye open for a right turn down a short hill onto Lakeshore Drive. This road gets you off the main highway for a few miles and allows you to gawk at some of the most expensive houses in Tahoe. Lakeshore Drive intersects Highway 28 again just past Incline Village where the road turns south. After three miles or so, you will come to Sand Harbor, part of the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park (water available in summer).

Sand Harbor to Zephyr Cove: (Go to profile)

Leaving Sand Harbor, prepare for the toughest climb on the ride as the road ascends steadily for nine mile (1700;) to Spooner Summit. Of course, the slow riding gives you plenty of time to enjoy the fine scenery as the road climbs through a beautiful Red Fir Forest. There are some fine beaches along this stretch of shore, including Tahoe's only nude beach...just look for all the cars parked along the road! From Spooner Summit, turn right onto US 50 and enjoy the four mile downhill with gorgeous views of the Lake Tahoe. On the way you will pass Glenbrook, home to the rich and famous. The stretch of road from Glenbrook to Zephyr Cove includes many more fine views of the lake, but as you continue south, road congestoin increases. You can find everything you need in Zephyr Cove including water, food, and a campground.

Zephyr Cove to South Lake Tahoe "Y": (Go to profile)

From Zephyr Cove you climb a short hill, descend then climb another short hill to Round Hill where you can even find a Safeway ( a clear sign that you are approaching civilization). Proceding south on Highway 50 you will pass Kinsbury Grade (207) which takes you out of the basin and down into the Carson Valley.

[If you are looking to seriously increase the mileage, ride over Kingsbury Grade, down into the Carson Valley and turn right onto Foothill Blvd. Follow this out to where it intersects Highway 88, take a right and head up past Markleeville and up to Hope Valley. Turn right onto Highway 89, climb over Luther Pass and continue down back into the Tahoe Basin. Finally, turn right onto Highway 50 and back to the "Y" and your start!]

From Kingsbury Grade, you will soon pass the Casino Corridor which on a summer weekend may redefine "congestion" for, busses, pedestrians, and even horse and buggies will be sharing the road with you. Continue throung town for another seven miles back to the "Y" and where you started. Alternatively, you could turn left on Pioneer Trail (at the 7-11/Subway corner just past the casinos) and take this less crowded, more scenic route. This road will dump you out onto Highway 50 after about ten mile. Turn right onto US 50 and ride back to the "Y" and your car. This variation adds about five miles to the ride.


Advisory: This ride can be dangerous in heavy traffic. During the summer, especially on weekends, there are lots of angry drivers out there who resent your prescence. Add to those freaks the "lets rent an RV and go to Tahoe" set and you need to exercise extreme caution, especially around Emerald Bay, Tahoe City, and South Lake Tahoe.


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NOTICE: While the information on this site is thought to be accurate and reliable, it is offered only as a guide and cannot replace sound personal judgement.

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