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Into the Wilderness: Tackling the Tahoe Rim Trail

Author: Ethan Bailey

You open your eyes. It’s early, but you’ve woken because the morning sun is streaming in through your tent walls. Unzipping the tent you crawl out and stretch away the aches and pains of yesterday’s hiking. You are facing the beautiful, emerald-green waters of Star Lake, surrounded by dusty pines and the sounds of nature greeting a new day. This is the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Tackling the Tahoe Rim Trail

The Tahoe Rim Trail, or TRT, is a 165-mile loop that winds its way through forests and along calm lakesides taking in some beautiful scenery on the way. What sets this route apart from the crowd is the span of open ridgeline around the 22-mile long, 12-mile wide Lake Tahoe. Today I am exploring two methods of tackling this track, thru-hiking and bikepacking, so you can get inspired to discover the Tahoe Rim Trail yourself!

These Boots are Made for Walking: Thru-hiking

The loop of the Tahoe Rim Trail is perfect for a two-week holiday. Though 165 miles might sound daunting, the loop is split into eight sections, all of which are near major roads and accessible from nearby towns. This means access and supplies take care of themselves! As you can’t thru-bike the TRT, lacing up your boots is the only way of completing the hike end to end.

Start west of South Lake Tahoe and head towards Tahoe City; you should hit the town about half-way through your trip. As you’ll pass within a few metres of a supermarket, restocking your packs is a breeze. There is no shortage of campsites, but make sure you plan a night next to the stunning Star Lake, as well as at the foot of Dicks Peak.

The TRT is well-marked for a long-distance hike but, as all our adventurous friends know, always be prepared! Carry up to date maps and a compass at all times. Be warned, this trail is not marked for winter use.

Get on Your Bike and Ride: Bikepacking

About 80 miles of the TRT are accessible to mountain bikes and each mile is a stunner. The International Mountain Biking Association has named a 22-mile stretch one of its Epics – showcasing exactly what mountain biking can be. The most famous section starts at the Spooner Lake campsite and is called the Flume Trail. Not strictly part of the TRT itself but renowned amongst mountain bikers, the Flume Trail involves a tough climb and a fast descent.

Before you travel, make sure to check out which days the trail is open to bikes. Accessibility is easy as many local towns have shuttles to the beginning of point-to-point rides along the TRT. 

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