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Tahoe off-road biking; here are three good autumn routes on the west shore.

Mapping loop routes for mountain biking that let you avoid the company of faster moving vehicles can be perplexing; you often have to use busy highway over at least part of your course. The west shore of Lake Tahoe, however, is blessed with dirt trails leading inland from the lake and paved bike paths skirting its shoreline. Here we describe three rides suitable for beginning to intermediate riders. Fall is a particularly pleasant time of year for Tahoe cycling. The crowds of summer no longer mob the bike paths, cooler weather keeps you from overheating, and aspens and aiders lend a brilliant gold hue to the already scenic landscape. You can rent bikes at any of a number of bike shops between Tahoe City and Tahoma, just north of Sugar Pine Point State Park. CyclePaths, about 2 miles south of Tahoe City on State 89, also has trail maps and offers half- and full-day guided mountain-bike tours in the area; for details, write or call Box 887, Tahoe City, Calif. 95730 (916/581-1171). Ask, too, about guided rides, clinics, a mountain-bike polo tournament, and other events planned for the Tahoe Fat-Tire Festival, scheduled for September 22 through 30. Three bike routes to choose from 1. Paige Meadows & Truckee River. This 12-mile loop is the most challenging of the three rides-and the only one that involves significant elevation gain and loss (about 1,000 feet). Just south of where State Highway 89 crosses the Truckee River in Tahoe City, park in the lot on the east side of the highway. Cross the highway, take the paved bike path south about 1/2 mile, then turn right on Granlibakken Road. After 1/2 mile, go left on Rawhide Drive to where it dead-ends at a national forest road. Follow the main dirt road (ignore side roads) as it climbs gently but steadily uphill through a dense forest of pine and fir. Approaching the grassy meadow, you'll need to go around a large log which serves as a barrier to motor vehicles. The trail soon emerges into the meadows. Fringed with blazing yellow aspens, the meadows are a good place to rest and enjoy a picnic lunch. Staying to the right (and on the trail-the meadows are easily damaged), ride across the meadows and back into the trees. After going around another log blockade, you turn left on a single-track trail; this leads to another dirt road. Turning right, you begin to climb again along the shoulder of Scott Peak. Eventually, the road levels off, as it contours around the mountain, expansive views of the Truckee River canyon and Tahoe rim peaks open up to the northeast. A mile-long descent provides an exhilarating finale to the unpaved portion of the ride, and brings you to the Alpine Meadows subdivision. Continue downhill to Alpine Meadows Road; turning right, you'll come in about a mile to the Truckee River and a paved bike bath just on the other side. Ride southeast on the bike path as it meanders alongside the river for 31/2 miles to Tahoe City. As you enter town, stay to the right at the Y; cross the bridge to return to your car. 2. Blackwood Canyon. You ride into the canyon on a lightly traveled paved road, and you ride out on a dirt trail. Mostly level, the 6 1/2-mile route isn't too daunting for beginning riders. To park, turn west from State 89 onto Blackwood Canyon Road (at the sign for Kaspian picnic area, about 41/2 miles south of Tahoe City), then immediately right into a large snow-park lot. Bike west on Blackwood Canyon Road, a coniferlined route enlivened by occasional stands of alders cloaked in autumn yellow. Between the trees, you get glimpses of 8,878foot Twin Peaks. Rounding a big bend to the left and passing signs for an off-highway vehicle staging area, you'll cross Blackwood Creek on a bridge. Look for a dirt trail heading off to the left. Rocks on the trail demand careful riding-first through a thicket of Jeffrey pines only head-high, then past more stately specimens. The trail ends at a residential road in Tahoe Pines. Continue straight for 1/2 mile to State 89 and the paved bike path on the far side of the highway. On the mile-long ride back to the parking area on the bike path, you recross Blackwood Creek on a picturesque stone bridge and pass a towering natural landmark known as Eagle Rock. 3. Sugar Pine Point State Park. A new section of paved bike path makes it possible to ride this appealing 6-mile loop without venturing onto State 89. The rest of the route follows mostly dirt roads in good condition. Like Blackwood Canyon, this ride is well suited for fat-tire tyros. Enter the portion of the park west of State 89 ($3 per vehicle day-use fee), and park in the main day-use lot, on the left. Ride west on the main road through General Creek Campground to the last campsite loop; a dirt road continues west from the far side of the loop, across from campsite 150. Meadows alternate with stands of mature Jeffrey pine and white fir as you ride into the undeveloped part of the park. After pedaling for about 2 miles along the dirt road, you'll come to a junction with a narrower trail. The trail cuts through lush undergrowth to a small bridge over General Creek. Widening again to a road, it traverses open flats, then enters a shady red fir forest. You coast down to the road's end at State 89; cross the highway to pick up the bike path, which heads south a short distance before crossing the highway again and leading back to the parking lot. 11
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Date:Sep 1, 1990
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