The Flume Trail – Lake Tahoe

Arguably the most iconic mountain bike trail ride in the Sierra. This classic mountain bike and hiking trail on the Eastside of Lake Tahoe is a well traveled route that inspires riders of all generations with breathtaking views on its single track sections. The Flume Trial is a challenging ride for beginners but is very do able and can be enjoyed by most all who visit. Many visitors rent bikes from local guide services or bike shops. runs a rental and drop off service which helps you make the trip easy to start and finish.

What you need to know to enjoy the Flume Trail:

  • The Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride is a moderately difficult one way about 14 mile ride at 7000′ to 8100′ feet in elevation with over a 1000′ of climbing in the first four miles and 4.5 miles of single track. The Flume Trail itself traverses above several steep sections, so those afraid of heights be forewarned. In this world, most spectacular vistas require traversing steep terrain.


  • You have to work to get to the actual Flume Trail. Its about five miles of uphill from the parking lot of Spooner Lake. The uphill ride or hike from Tunnel Creek is significantly harder. Most people will mountain bike this starting at the Spooner Lake car park and then use the shuttle for the return. There are entrance fees at Spooner Lake to park, walk or ride in.
  • The five miles up from Spooner lake is a moderate climb with only the last 1/2 mile actually a bit tough. Once you have completed the climb you will see Marlette Lake. Marlette is a great spot to stop and take a break after the climb. It has lots of fish and so its worth dropping a line in here. It’s strictly catch and release with artificial lures or flys. The season opens July 15th. If you do this ride/hike early in the season there will still be patches of snow around the lake and trail.
  • After riding around the lake you will come across the entrance to the Flume Trail. The lake level can make this a crossing on the rocks or ride through the low level water. Once on the Flume trail you will have a small technical section that many choose to walk down. It’s a bit tight but easy on foot. Cross a small bridge and the trail opens up to the single track that runs along the path. The views are magnificent, make sure you see the Thunderbird Lodge, Sand Harbor and surrounding areas.flumetrail-laketahoe

The single track is very flat and an easy ride. Be careful to watch out for some steep drop offs in sections. Also depending on the erosion there may be a couple of sections where you will need to get off your bike and walk over fallen rocks that are blocking the trail. Take care here and always make sure you hold your bike on the downhill side so if you slip you can drop it without it taking you down.

  • At the conclusion of the trail you find a forest service road along Tunnel Creek. This downhill section has some sandy and gravel sections so watch your speed. At the bottom be sure to stop by the Tunnel Creek Cafe for some refreshments. The Flume Trail Bike rental and shuttle service operates from the same place.
  • If you are bringing a Dog – The total trip is ~14.5 miles so its a long distance for a dog, be sure to make extra dog stops for water and allow them to catch up on the down hill sections.
  • Bring Extra Water, there are a few streams early int he season but you will need to pack water with you most of the season.
  • Bring a camera. The views are stunning of Lake Tahoe and Marlette Lake,