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Discover Truckee's Endless Gravel Rides

Alex Silgalis
May 21, 2024
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Depending on who you talk to, it could be called gravel riding, gravel cycling, or even gravel grinding. Whatever you wish to name it, it’s one of the best ways to experience Truckee’s lesser seen landscapes. And the best part about it is if you can ride a bike, you can try gravel riding. 

What Is Gravel Riding?

It is essentially what cycling was more than a century ago. In Europe, to get from one town to the next on two wheels you needed to ride it all. Even the original Tour de France back in the early 20th century was essentially a gravel grinder. You can expect a heaping plateful of rough gravel roads, a dash of singletrack, and even a whiff of smooth pavement. What you’re rewarded with is an up close and personal view of Truckee’s scenery that you won’t get any other way. It’s also a great alternative to when the mountain bike trails become a little dusty towards the end of summer.

Best Times To Ride

When venturing out onto the fire roads, singletrack, and even certain pavement, the key is for it to be snow-free. Residents get on their bikes as early as February or March in some years, but the ideal time to experience all rides is to visit during late spring through fall. This is generally from May through November, and if the weather holds, even into December. Fall is especially beautiful for its perfect sunny weather and the opportunity to catch the fall foliage along streams, rivers, and alpine lakes.

Get Fitted Up For A Ride

Don’t feel like checking in your bike on the airplane? Don’t know where to start? No problem! From first timers to grizzled vets, Pacos Bike Shop is the “hub” for all things cycling including gravel grinding. Find out which routes are riding the best. Try a gravel bike for the day or week. 

Hire A Guide

If you want to ensure that your ride is absolutely perfect, Dirt Gypsy Adventures provides guided trips from half-day to multi-day outings. From experienced cyclists looking to up their skills to first timers, they’ll be sure to help cleanse your soul with a little dose of dirt.

Truckee Gravel Rides

With so many fire roads, smooth singletrack, and double-track, you could spend an entire lifetime creating loops in the Truckee region. These are just a taste of the gravel rides you can enjoy in our area. If you’re looking for more routes to explore, we recommend hopping on the Truckee Tahoe Gravel or Paco’s Strava Groups

Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail

Distance: Up to 15 miles one-way / 900’ Climbing

MTB Project | Trailforks 

Not a gravel road but 100% singletrack adventure. A perfect introduction to gravel grinding off the road. Expect lots of smooth rolling singletrack, short but punchy climbs, swoopy turns, and drops to practice not braking. You’ll find lovely meadows, pine forests, and a lake at the far end. And as much distance as you can handle.

Sawtooth 06 Road

Distance: 10.6 miles one-way / 1,900’ Climbing

MTB Project

The 06 Road is the dirt connection between Truckee and the Lake Tahoe Basin. It’s frequently used as a connector in part of longer epic rides such as the Truckee-Tahoe City gravel grinder listed below. Along the smooth dirt road, you’ll find great views and only a few steep pitches.

Truckee-Tahoe City Gravel Grinder

Distance: 18.5 miles one-way or 36.6 mile loop / 2,600’ Climbing

Trailforks | MTB Project

If you’re looking to extend the Sawtooth 06 Road into a longer tour, it’s only one segment of the entire Truckee-Tahoe City gravel grinder. This gravel grinder includes sections of The Great Ski Race which features fun rollers. Smooth pavement with few cars on the Fibreboard Freeway - Brockway to Tahoe City. And most of all, a dash of adventure with numerous unmarked intersections and options available. When in doubt,  just head toward the lake. It will eventually dump you into the neighborhoods of Tahoe City or Dollar Point.

Bear Valley Gravel Loop

Distance: 50 Miles / 3,400’ Climbing

Trailforks | Strava

Along the loop you’ll find a potpourri of surfaces from pavement to smooth gravel and even a few miles of singletrack. You’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of Relay Peak and meadows bursting with wildflowers. For a full rundown on what to expect, check out Margie LaPoint’s write-up of the entire route.

Tahoe Pyramid Trail

Distance: 81 miles currently… 114 miles once completed

Tahoe Pyramid Trail

The idea is simple. Follow the Truckee River from where it starts in Lake Tahoe to its terminus Pyramid Lake. The Tahoe Pyramid Trail or TPT uses a combination of existing dirt, paved, and historic roads, bike paths, as well as many newly constructed sections of trail and connecting bridges in both urban and more remote trail areas. Currently, 81% of it has been built connecting Tahoe City via Truckee, all the way to Verdi, Nevada and beyond. Like all of these trails, you don’t have to do the entire route but can still enjoy a small sampling of it.

Truckee Tahoe Gravel - June 29, 2024

In the gravel world, the term “race” is a loose word as it's more a community gathering of like-minded folks to test their personal limits. Even so, the Truckee Tahoe Gravel is a friendly competitive gravel/dirt event with awards for the top three riders in various age and gender groups. One of Truckee’s premier adventure races, it was started in 2018 by 3x world road racing champion Peter Sagan.

The event features three scenic and challenging routes, expertly redesigned by Bike Monkey to maximize the experience of riding through the Tahoe National Forest on mixed-terrain. The event will wrap with a vibrant post-race festival at Riverview Sports Park, starting at 12pm. The festival will feature local vendors, delicious food, and craft beer, and music. All are welcome, and a free bike valet offered by Truckee Trails Foundation will be available for anyone who rides their bike to the event. Be there to cheer on race finishers as they return back to the event venue and mingle with many of today’s top athletes in gravel racing.

Truckee locals get 20% off registration, so don't delay on signing up!

Alex Silgalis

Born and raised as a flat lander in Chicagoland, Alex spent his summers working to save up for a season pass to the local hill along with any trips out West or beyond he could squeeze in. It was during his travels, both as a kid & an adult, Alex discovered his inspiration for Local Freshies® . His idea was to create the No. 1 Web site providing the local scoop on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer alongside the love of his life and business partner, Jaime Pirozzi.

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