Riding The Unknown Mountain Bike Trails of Carson Valley

"The Bench", Tahoe Rim Trail
"The Bench", Tahoe Rim Trail

Have you been craving a singletrack escape where you and your bike can enjoy a little alone time together? Well, how does a quickie to the base of the Sierras sound? Can you feel the blood flowing again? Carson Valley sits on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, a bona fide basecamp to over 50 miles and growing of multi-use singletrack.

Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada
Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada

Many of these trails are still unknown, unmarred and fresh for the taking. While nearby and more crowded high-altitude trails sit under snowpack well into the late spring, the Carson Valley trails are rideable most, if not all, of the year.

The Carson Range, rising between Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe, tempts riders with the likes of more than 3,800 feet of nearly continuous high-speed singletrack descent from the top of the Tahoe Rim Trail to the valley below.

For those seeking a solid pedal or just a casual route, singletrack out-and-backs and loops span the region. Be it high speed or high endurance, rides in Carson Valley often start among sage and bitterbrush in the high desert. Push on a little further and trails up their technical challenge but reward with creek crossings, shaded pine forests and spectacular valley views to the east and Lake Tahoe views over the summit to the west, each serving up an average of 300 days per year of bluebird skies.

Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada
Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada
"The Bench", Tahoe Rim Trail
“The Bench”, Tahoe Rim Trail

Rides finish just pedals away from a classic blend of authentic and down home services for refreshing and laid-back recovery, be it historic thirst parlors, satisfying sandwiches or hot spring soaks.

The development and maintenance of Carson Valley’s trails is due in large part to the efforts of many volunteers working with the Carson Valley Trails Association (CVTA). Clear Creek Trail and Sierra Canyon Trail are the jewels of the CVTA’s collaborative accomplishments. Several thousand volunteer hours have been invested in trail building, but CVTA and partners aren’t finished. Trail work continues with a focus on extending Clear Creek Trail with a connector to Spooner Summit South. CVTA’s tireless dedication is evident in the maintenance of the trails.

Sierra Canyon is the pinnacle of Carson Valley’s recent trail developments. The Sierra Canyon trailhead intersects the Tahoe Rim Trail and sits at an elevation of nearly 8,500 feet. The views from this vantage are spectacular with the entire Lake Tahoe basin to the west, the span of Carson Valley to the east and Jobs Peak and Jobs Sister peeking from the southeast.

"The Bench", Tahoe Rim Trail
“The Bench”, Tahoe Rim Trail

Dropping in here initiates a long ride to Genoa, Nevada with substantial elevation loss and terrain diversity. Ten miles of singletrack, 3,500 feet of descent, moderate difficulty, countless switchbacks and careful trail maintenance amount to a killer ride.

Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada
Sierra Canyon Trail, Genoa, Nevada

Enjoy the descent via self-shuttle dropping you near the starting point or earn-your-turns by riding Sierra Canyon as an out-and-back. Sierra Canyon can also be enjoyed as part of a bigger ride, such as a climb up Kingsbury Stinger, north on Tahoe Rim Trail and ending down Sierra Canyon. No matter the ambition, all rides on Sierra Canyon end with a mandatory stop at Genoa Bar, Nevada’s oldest thirst parlor.

Carson Valley, home to Nevada’s first settlement, beckons you to check-out after a full day of dropping-in. The four communities of Carson Valley are a sweet balance of convenience (just 45 minutes south of Reno International Airport) and unhampered. There’s no attitude here, just a welcoming dose of character and love for the landscape.

For additional details on mountain biking in Carson Valley, visit visitcarsonvalley.org/top-mountain-biking-trails-carson-valley.

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