Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop

Last Friday, my friend Todd organized a ride on the Tahoe Rim Trail out of the Tahoe Meadows near Mount Rose. This is one of my favorite rides, so I jumped at the chance to go. The 30 mile loop we rode has fantastic views, fast smooth singletrack, and many challenges along the way to test your skills.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Tahoe Meadows Below Mount Rose

We met up at the Mount Rose Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead around 9:00 AM, and rode south towards Tunnel Creek. Scott J got to try out his new Stump Jumper’s suspension along the way. We all had fun climbing and jumping off the rocks.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Scott J on a Boulder Crossing

The first 9 miles to Tunnel Creek crosses back and forth along the ridge, giving you views of Washoe Valley on the East side, and Lake Tahoe on the West side.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Washoe Valley Overlook

Jon’s tube decided to die seconds after the picture below was taken. Pinch Flat! We swapped the tube rather quickly, but then I “thought” I saw something wrong with his brakes. I pulled one of the pads out, only to discover that there was nothing wrong, that they were just Avid Brakes…not the Hayes I’m used to looking at. We spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to reassemble Jon’s brakes, and got to meet many friendly people that passed us. At least we stopped near a pretty view! Jon forgot to bring his own tube, so Scott made an easy $40. It’s amazing what price you can command on such commodities when you’re in the middle of nowhere!

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Above Crystal Bay

After reaching Tunnel Creek, we continued along the Tahoe Rim Trail. This section of the trail switchbacks up for a few miles to reach Marlette Peak. We ran into our friends Mike and Kathy along the climb, and chatted with them for a while. They were doing a loop in the opposite direction.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Riding Through Boulders

After a bit of a climb, we broke through the trees and made the final ascent to Marlette Peak. When I get my first glimpse of Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe below, an overwhelming feeling comes over me. I’m not a religious person, but this place is about as spiritual as it gets for me. Marlette Peak is a wonderful place for lunch, so that’s just what we did. Ate and basked in the greatness.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Jon Riding up Marlette Peak

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Scott J Above Marlette Lake

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Marlette Peak

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Lunch Break on Top of the World

Marlette Peak
In My Happy Place

After a nice break atop Marlette Peak, we began the fun descent down to Marlette Lake. The singletrack is fast, smooth, twisty, and goes in and out of the woods. Almost makes you want to pedal back up and do it again! We kept going though as there were many miles ahead of us. We got onto Marlette Lake Road, and made the final descent to the lake through the Aspens.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Marlette Lake

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Leaving Marlette Lake

We pedaled around the south end of Marlette Lake, and then over to the dam where the Flume Trail starts. We met a couple at the dam, and the girl had lost a cleat bolt on her brand new shoes. Doh! Don’t forget the lock-tite folks! This may be a good item to keep in the tool bag come to think of it. It weighs next to nothing, and may save the day!

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
On The Flume Trail

There was a lot of traffic on the Flume Trail for a Friday! Can’t imagine what it must be like on the weekend. We took advantage of the frequent stops to snap some photos. The lake was glass smooth in some spots, and it looked like the boats were just floating in space!

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Sand Harbor as seen from The Flume Trail

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
On The Flume Trail Looking South

We made it back to the Tunnel Creek crossroads, and took an extended break. We had a good chat with another group of riders that had done our loop the opposite direction. We both argued that our direction was much better. After refueling, we began our 9.5 mile trek back to Tahoe Meadows. Early into this final leg, we ran into Mike and Kathy again. They had a long ride ahead of them too.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Back on the Tahoe Rim Trail

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Above Crystal Bay in the Afternoon Sun

It was now the afternoon, and going the opposite direction with different light made the trail all new. It is also deceiving how much elevation you lose on the way in. It feels like nothing but climbing on the way out! One by one we started to run out of water. A couple of the guys even uttered the dreaded “Death March” phrase.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Come on Guys! It’s Not a Death March!

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
Weary Adventurers

We finally made it back to Tahoe meadows around 5:00 PM, tired and thirsty. There was just one final ascent, and we decided to do it on the road to get it over quickly. The next drink of water was back in Reno, as there is no running water at the Tahoe Meadows trailhead. We all eyeballed a high school cross country team bus back at the top. Had there been an ice chest, we would have raided it. I think a small water filtration system might be good for these long summer rides. We were all loaded to capacity with water, but still ran out.

Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop
The Final Stretch

We were all pretty quiet on the drive home. I had to look in the back seat occasionally to see if Scott J was even still in the truck with us. The next 24 hours would be spent refueling and rehydrating. I slept good that night!

As always, more pictures of the ride can be found over on the Bike Carson Flickr page HERE.

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10 thoughts on “Tahoe Rim Trail / Flume Trail Loop

  1. Three friends and I did the same ride Sunday although we took Tunnel Creek down to Sand Harbor for cold beers on the Beach.

    Jeff, Thanks for the advice to Not climb Marlette Peak from the Sunflower Hills side…

    The Flume was like L.A. Traffic on Sunday at noon…ugh

    The next trip is Meadows, Red House and Hobart to Lakeview.

  2. jeff, i read your post twice and didn’t come across the word “beer” once…

    a weekend of many epics it sounds like. i joined a group that rode the TRT/flume from Kingsbury to Franktown on sunday. probably missed lester and co. by 30-45 minutes.

  3. I didn’t have a beer that day! Isn’t that weird? I drank tons of water when I got home and couldn’t seem to get enough. The wine I had with dinner was almost like battery acid. Too hot for wine in the summer sometimes. I did have a beer (my last one) later in the weekend…I must not have seen it Friday in my delirium!

  4. Then No wonder they labeled it a Death March. Some icy cold IPA’s waiting in the car at the finish and that last 9 miles would have been much easier!

    You would have been lacking the wonderful scenery we had at Sand Harbor but at least a cold beverage for Post Ride.

    Who organized that trip?

  5. That looks like good times! I haven’t been up there on those trails since I was a kid. I personally hate loops of any kind so I would love to continue to spooner and perhaps go back via kings canyon (which would add quite of miles) or get back somehow from spooner. Have someone shuttle perhaps…

  6. We do the two truck shuttle.

    Two vehicles from Carson. Park the first wherever you plan to end up…pile into the second and drive up to the Meadows.

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