The Trail One List: Mr Toad’s Wild Ride
THE CALIFORNIA CLASSIC
There’s nothing quite like summer in South Lake Tahoe. The sky always seems to be its best version of blue (unless there’s a nearby wildfire). The massive trees and giant rocks look like they’ve been arranged and placed on purpose to make every turn into a stunning vista. You see stuff like this in magazines, but it’s hard to really “get it” until you’ve ridden it.
OK, enough with the scenery. Saxon Creek Trail, AKA Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is a ripping fun downhill with some tricky tech obstacles and plenty of fun flow. It could be a barren wasteland and still be worthy of The Trail One List. In fact, some of the bottom sections have become scorched earth after a recent fire, but the trail is still running good.
This trail has been ridden by mountain bikes for as long as mountain bikes have existed, so it’s been a crowd pleaser for at least 40 years.
This ride can be done as a big loop with around 3,000 feet of climbing over 20 miles or with a shuttle.
Even with a shuttle drop off at Luther Pass you’ll be climbing 1,200 feet on the Tucker Flat portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Either way, this ride is a bit of a lung buster for anyone not used to the altitude. Starting the ride at 6,400 feet of elevation isn’t so bad, but when you get closer to 9,000 feet you’ll feel it. This is a ride you’ll want to bring more water and snacks than usual so it doesn’t turn into a full-on sufferfest.
There’s a small parking lot at the start of Fountain Place Road which works great if you’re doing the full loop. There are no bathrooms or water available at the parking lot.
TAMBA takes care of this and many other trails in the Lake Tahoe area.
This route is usually rideable July through October depending on snow. Trailforks should have reliable data on trail closures.
The Luther Pass Campground is a free, but very busy option if you want to camp nearby. Otherwise South Lake Tahoe is a very tourist-friendly place with hotel options.
Some food favorites in the South Lake Tahoe area:
Lakeside Beach is a really nice beach close to the state line, but it’s $25 per person.
Sand Harbor Beach is a fantastic beach, but fills up almost immediately in the morning. Come later in the day after a ride and you should be able to get in.