The Flume Trail

Lake Tahoe

Diamond Peak

Mount Rose

The historic Flume Trail, traversing high above the stunningly-beautiful Lake Tahoe.

Mountain Biking Moderate

Distance
28 km
Ascent
727 m
Descent
510 m
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.5 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
The Flume Trail Map

Description

The Flume Trail began life as the grade for a water flume that delivered lumber from high in the mountains above Lake Tahoe to the towns far below. Nowadays, the remnants of the Flume are still visible, but the old flume bed is instead utilized by mountain bikers and hikers.

This relatively non-technical trail offers incredible views of Lake Tahoe—one of the most beautiful lakes anywhere—from high on the mountainside. The sinuous singletrack snakes in and out of narrow valleys, with the occasional rock up-and-over. Since this route was originally designed for a water flume to slowly descend the mountainside, the grade is very mellow, making this trail quite beginner friendly.

Despite it's non-technical nature, this trail is extremely exposed. "One slip will be your sure death," writes Tyghe Trimble in Men's Journal.

Getting up to the Flume Trail is the challenge, however. "To put things bluntly, this ride starts tough," writes Trimble. "The first four miles are a wide, dusty trail that gains about 1,300 feet, most of it in the last mile of the climb. Bring lots of water and drink liberally during this section."

The route mapped here follows the less-ridden Incline Flume Trail. The more popular route leaves the Marlette Flume and drops down Tunnel Creek Road as mapped in Tahoe Rim Trail -> Flume Trail route, but that seems too brief of a ride if ridden from Spooner Lake… especially considering the effort that it takes to get up here. So instead of dropping back down to the lake, add in the Incline Flume Trail for another route option. Also consider shuttle up the Mount Rose Highway, parking there, and riding in reverse back to Spooner Lake.

Sources: https://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/biking-tahoes-flume-trail-20120724/

Difficulty

Moderate

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability, with unavoidable obstacles 8in/20cm tall or less. Other obstacles such as rock gullies and steep sections may exist. Ideal for lower intermediate riders.

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Flow
  • Shuttle-run
  • Rock Slabs
  • Rock Gardens

Guidebooks in this area