The California Sierra Trail is a challenging and unique route showcasing some of the best riding in the Lake Tahoe region. The California Sierra Trail traverses historic 19th Century mining trails and roads, winding its way slowly up the foothills and dropping down into Lake Tahoe. It then follows the Tahoe Rim Trail around the lake, over 100 miles of some of California’s best singletrack, before making its way back down towards Auburn. At 400 miles and 65,000 feet of elevation gain, the route is a monster, but rewards those who attempt it with incredible scenery and riding.
What to Know
The route starts in a Auburn, a historical Gold Rush landmark. The town sits at 1,227ft and has a population of 13,330 people. Auburn is a great start location as it has everything you’d need for a bikepacking ride. A good bike shop, hotels, restaurants and the Sacramento airport is 30 miles away.
Riding in the Sierra foothills has everything from smooth, swoopy singletrack, to entertaining chunk, to unrideable hike-a-bike and bushwhacking. And LOTS of climbing – close to 25,000 ft. of gain before you even reach Lake Tahoe. Once in Tahoe, you get to enjoy 120+ miles of some of the best and most scenic singletrack California has to offer – the Tahoe Rim Trail. After looping around the lake, you start the long trek back to Auburn via some very remote and fun cattle trails, eventually linking back up with logging roads that lead to the world famous Western States trail. After reaching Foresthill, you retrace your steps for a very fun, mostly downhill finish into Auburn.
There are many established campgrounds along the route, as well as plenty of backcountry camping options.
The Sierras have relatively dry summers, so forest fires are often an issue. Generally the weather is perfect for riding, with an occasional thunderstorm. Don’t be surprised if temperatures reach the 80s during the month of July and August.
There are quite a few town along the way to stock up on food and water. Be sure to do your homework, there are a few long sections in between resupply points. Resupply Towns: Soda Springs (mile 86), Truckee (mile 111), Tahoe City (mile 125), Kings Beach (mile 147), Heavenly Ski Resort (mile 193), Meyers (mile 232), Strawberry (mile 244), Foresthill (mile 365).