Emigrant Trail is probably Truckee's most popular mountain biking trail, and with good reason. It is fun for everyone from beginner to expert, and since it runs through a scattered forest at a low elevation, it is out of the snow sooner in the spring and it stays out of the snow later in the fall, then most trails.
There are two trailheads, both located north of Truckee on Highway 89. The first is at the Donner Camp Picnic Area 3.5 miles north of the junction of Highway 89 and Interstate 80.
From the trail start it is 11.75 miles to Stampede Reservoir. The first 2.5 miles have some challenging sections so beginning riders may prefer the second trailhead. It is another 1.5 miles driving north along Highway 89 to Prosser Creek. This trailhead is just north of the bridge at a dirt parking area.
From this second trail start it is 9 miles to Stampede Reservoir. Whichever place you start, you have a gently winding, up and down ride to the reservoir. While you will get a good workout on the up-hills, none are long enough to be a great struggle, and the downhills are not too steep for most riders.
Sawtooth Trail was built for mountain biking and completed in 2002. With 9 miles of trail it makes for about a 12-mile loop (including Road 06) from beginning to end.
To get to the trailhead, go 0.3 miles from downtown Truckee on Brockway Drive (the former Highway 267). Turn right on Palisades Drive at the 7-11. Follow Palisades around a sharp turn and it becomes Ponderosa Drive, which you follow about one mile.
Just across the Placer County Line, take a right on Silver Fir Drive. Go 0.4 mile and turn left on Thelin; follow it about 0.1 mile to a green gate and Forest Road 06, which goes straight ahead as Thelin veers to the left.
Forest Route 06 is the main backcountry road that climbs up to Starrett Pass and meets the Fiberboard Freeway that travels from Brockway Summit to Tahoe City. On Forest Road 06 you will drive up hill about 0.2 mile to a signed, gravel, trailhead parking area on your right.
Take a glance at the trailhead map before hitting the trail on your bike. Soon after your ride begins you are at a viewpoint at the top of the ridge above the Truckee River. The trail then winds back and forth between the Truckee River canyon and the open forest to the east. This trail does not have a lot of ups or downs, but it includes a steady series of sharp turns on rocky trail tread, so it might not be suited to beginning riders.
Your fun loop crosses Road 06 several times at alternate trailheads and then loops back to 06 about three miles south of the trailhead. From there you can just follow the gravel road back to your car, or backtrack on some of the trail that you have already ridden.
Enjoy the last bit of mountain biking before the snow flies, but it may be cold out there. I recommend warm fleece layers, warm socks, and lingering over that morning cup of coffee before you leave the house. Giving the trail a bit of time to warm up will make for a more enjoyable ride.
Visit Tim at: www.TimsTahoeAdventures.com