I’ve been seeing bits and pieces about mountain biking the Loon Lake trail over the years and I finally made my way out there to see it for myself.
The first few miles of trail are quite nice. A great mix of what you would see in Lake Tahoe: granite chunk, perfect brown singletrack, step ups and drops. A bit of hike-a-bike on the first section, but overall a fun trail.
But once you get past the Pleasant Campground you start being swallowed by endless granite chunk. We wanted to make it to Rockbound Lake near the Desolation wilderness, but we turned back once we got to Buck Island Lake. We were beaten down by the endless hike-a-bike. The mental and physical battle was too much.
That said, this was a beautiful ride.
- My Strava track
- I would suggest you only go in about 4 miles and then turn back. Everything beyond that first 4 miles is pretty nasty. But if you’re up for a hellacious adventure, do it.
- Our ride was 12.3 miles and took 3 hours 41 minutes. Even though Strava says we were only moving for 2 hours 47 minutes, we weren’t standing around for an hour. We may have spent that much time catching our breath as we slowly pushed our bikes uphill.
- Loon Lake is located off of Ice House Road on Highway 50. Park in the “Loon Lake Wilderness Parking” section after following signs for Loon Lake Campground.
- Wilderness parking is free, even though there are a bunch of signs saying “Day Use Fee $8”. That is for people going to the lake.
- There are bathrooms and water in the parking lot.
- The first several miles of the trail are NOT wilderness and are bike legal. If you get deep enough into the trail you will eventually hit the Desolation Wilderness, which is off limits to bikes.
- This area allows dispersed camping without permits. Just find an “established campsite” (area that is clear) off the trail. This would be a great trail for a first time bikepacking trip.
- I have added these trails to Trailforks, but it may take a couple days to pop in. Download the Trailforks app so you can know where you’re located at all times.