Two Short, but fun Mtb adventures near Truckee and Soda Springs
If you’re in the area looking for a couple of fun 3-hour long rides light on elevation gain, these rides are for you. The well-known Hole in the Ground (HITG) and less known Yogi trails. Each offers a fun day of technical riding (intermediate level for the Yogi trail and intermediate with some advanced for HITG) with stellar views and terrain that will leave a permanent ear-to-ear grin on your face the rest of the day.
The Yogi trail starts just south of Truckee, off highway 89. From the trailhead you climb up dirt roads and single track to the summit. From here you connect a series of unmarked singletrack trails. Because this area is frequented by motos, most of these stellar trails start about 10-20 ft from the jeep road. It’s an unfortunate necessity as it only takes a few motos going down these trails to ruin them. I recommend downloading the route (here) onto your Garmin, or other GPS device, so that you can easily find your way. Or if you prefer more assistance you can contact a local bike shop like the Back Country store, which offers guided trips in the area. They also offer free guided trips most Thursday evenings from the shop (more info on that in my next post).
Once you start descending you’ll encounter an assortment of terrain features like table tops, gap jumps, logs, etc. Most of these can be avoided if you’re uncomfortable doing them but keep your speed in check to do so.
Another fun trail is Hole in the Ground (HITG) near Castle Peak (Garmin file here). Most riders start near the fire station off Donner Pass Road near Soda Springs. From there you’ll have a short warm-up on Donner Pass Road towards Soda Springs, you’ll then climb a relatively short, but grinding gravel road over the ridgeline towards Boreal. The road will dump you on the southwest corner of the Boreal complex near the Woodward facility. Ride under the freeway to the Caste Peak trail head – this is where the fun begins.
Follow the main trail toward the Castle Peak summit. About a mile in, take a hard left onto the HITG trail; you’ll see a wood sign marking the trail. This part of the trail climbs to the ridgeline between Andesite and Castle Peak. It has spectacular views of Castle Peak and the surrounding area. From here you drop down into the valley. The next 10 miles are some of my favorite in Tahoe. There are rock gardens, granite slabs, optional jumps, fast flowy sections, and multiple stream crossings. And Lola Montez lake toward the end of the ride is a great place to have lunch and chill a while before completing the final few miles. The last section of trail has a very steep rocky stair step section. This is definitely the most technical part of the trail – walk if you don’t feel comfortable doing it.