Tahoe Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride: A Tough but Rewarding One Way 14 Mile Ride

When I was back from “Going-to-the-sun” bike trail last summer, I already know what is my nest big adventure! The “Tahoe flume trail”!

It is a point to point mountain bike ride that starts at the Tahoe flume trailhead beside Spooner Lake, and ends back at the Incline Beach (On Crystal Bay). The trail offers amazing scenery with great views of Lake Tahoe, beautiful wildflowers, and plenty of wildlife. The ride is rated as moderate because it has some steep sections but it is still manageable for most riders. There are shuttles available but you must be prepared to do this one way 14 mile ride!

Where is it located?

The Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride is based in East Lake Tahoe, NV. The ride starts at the same trailhead as the Spooner La and ends on top of a peak near Echo Summit with views overlooking Tahoe’s north shore. You can take your bike up to that point or you can climb it by foot. But that is considered a long ride and most bikers pick the popular section of this trail (Which is still a bit challenging for newbies). This starts from Spooner lake parking lot and ends at the north west of the Tahoe Nevada State Park (On the north-east of the lake), Close to Incline Village.


The History of Flume Trail

The Flume trail is a historically significant hiking/biking route that was used during the gold rush in 1849 and 1850 to transport supplies from Carson City and other mining towns on the east side of Tahoe over precipitous mountain slopes.


Gold miners used this trail to get supplies and food on their long journey, with many of them dying in avalanches or falls from great heights while trying to make the trek along trail.

The Tahoe Lake flume trail, which goes up about 7800 feet in elevation (From see level) at Marlette, is a rough trail with many switchbacks and tumbles. You will ride up 1700 feet in from Spooner lake to here.

This trail was originally thought to be the Tahoe river, but because there are no rivers that flow into Tahoe it became clear that this theory of how got its name wasn’t accurate. Tahoe is Tahoe because the way it was pronounce by Native American people.

About Tahoe Lake

Tahoe Lake is Nevada’s second largest lake, and it also has the distinction of being Nevada’s only natural lake. It is one of the most scenic and naturally beautiful lakes in Nevada, if not the world. The lake offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities including fishing, boating, water sports, fishing and hunting. The first white man to see Tahoe was John C Fremont in 1844.


The trail is a one way 14 mile ride

The Flume Trail Mountain Bike Ride is a one way, 14 mile ride with the total elevation gain of 1700 feet.

The This trail provides views overlooking Tahoe’s north shore and is broken into two sections. The first section starts from Spooner Lake parking lot, then goes through forest for about 6.3 miles.


The second section starts out as a single track ride down the Marlette Lake for another 7.6 miles, then finishes off at Incline Village East Entrance Park.


Scenic views and challenging terrain for expert mountain bikers

The Flume trail is a scenic, challenging ride for expert bikers. A ten mile loop, flume includes steep climbs and descents along the banks of Tahoe’s south fork. The trail follows an ancient path that Native Americans used to travel through the mountains – don’t forget your camera!


This trail is part of Tahoe mountain bike association’s master plan and provides a great addition to Tahoe’s already extensive network of mountain biking trails.

The actual trail connects the town of Tahoe city with Kings Beach, running just off highway 50 along the banks of Tahoe’s south fork.

Wear long sleeves to protect their skin from sun exposure

The Flume trail is Tahoe’s most popular hiking trail. It has an elevation gain of 7800 feet (From see level), and a distance of 14 miles roundtrip with steep terrain which crosses tumbling streams and meanders through forests of pine, fir, cedar and aspen trees.

Trails in Tahoe provide a great way to escape the heat and enjoy some fresh mountain air. However, good physical fitness is required for any trailhead above 500 feet. Visitors should wear long sleeves to protect their skin from sun exposure as well as sunscreen and insect repellent.

The trail is about 2 to 4 hours to complete by itself. If you choose to do an out and back trip, add another hour for the return portion of this ride. This is great for beginners and advanced riders alike.

Start your adventure from Incline Village

The Flume trail is now a popular hiking trail with many people trying to make this difficult journey up into Incline village, but it’s still very much haunted by Tahoe’s history. This trail is now a popular tourist destination for people who are looking to take in the beauty of Tahoe’s natural wonders, and it has been certified by the international association of travel journalists as one of “The World ‘s best bike trails.”

Lake Tahoe Shoreline View

To get to the Flume trail, you can drive to Incline village and take a shuttle bus to Spooner lake. The village is an excellent destination for mountain biking enthusiasts as well. Mountain bike trails are accessible from the north shore of Thao lake which offers hiking, fishing, picnicking and camping opportunities or a bicycle ride up the flume trail.

For those who are looking to hike Tahoe trail, the east side of Thao lake provides a more scenic route and is much less strenuous than the west side that accesses Tahoe’s most popular hiking trails such as Thao falls or Thao lakes shoreline.

Spooner Lake leads you to Flume Trail

After getting to the lake, from there you will be able to see Thao falls and Thao lakes shoreline, which are both great views for photographers looking to take in Tahoe’s natural wonders; however these are not the only sights that await a Tahoe trail adventure.


The North Canyon Creek is a great place to stop and enjoy the view during your trail journey, as this will provide you with an opportunity to take in Tahoe’s natural wonders from yet another perspective.

Climbing past Snow Valley peak

The trail goes up alongside with North Canyon Road to Marlette lake.


Some people like to take their time on this beautiful trail so they will camp out near Marlette lake for a few days. The lake is a great place to look at the scenery and explore around, but it can also be very dangerous if you’re not careful and have good judgment skills about your surroundings.

It’s All Downhill From Marlette Lake

Located in Nevada between Mount Marlette and Truckee Mountain, Marlette Lake is a picturesque mountain lake that’s perfect for swimming, fishing and hiking. For our biking adventure, Marlette is just the beginning of a long downhill ride which starts at an elevation of about 7800 feet above sea level with a view of the Lake, Creek and Marlette Meadow Campground.


If you want to stay and enjoy a good day hike, this might be just the place for you. Marlette is one of the most beautiful lakes in this part of Nevada.

The hike to the lake is all downhill, so it’s perfect for families with younger children who might not be up for the climb. The Lake is about three miles from Marlette Meadow Campground, and it’s an easy trail that takes about 45 minutes round trip with some nice views of the Lake and Marlette Canyon.


If you want to plan your biking from Marlette, there is a small parking lot by the lake to drop off your car or you can park at Marlette Creek Park for free if you’re coming from the south. You can start your day with a hike before you ride downhill on your mountain bike. The hiking trail starts right near the Marlette lake. From there, take it around the backside of the Lake and up the hill. You’ll follow Marlette Canyon with some really nice views.

Bike rental shops near Flume trail

If you are planning to rent your bike for this trail, there are multiple options at Incline village. Some of them even offer shuttle services to Spooner lake so you can ride bake to where you have parked your car in the village.


Water Sports Rental Shops

If you have some extra time and want to add a little spice to your adventure while you are in Tahoe lake area, you can rent a boat or paddle board from rental shops nearby:


What To Expect On The Flume Trail

  • If you are planning to rent a bike, search “Incline Village Bike Rentals” on Google.
  • There are steep drops in some parts of the trail. If you are afraid of height, it’s better to be a bit gentle there.
  • Except Spooner campground which has a restroom at its entrance there are no facilities for another 14 miles until your reach Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
  • Tahoe national forest is Tahoe’s largest and most remote area, it also has the greatest amount of snow.
  • If you are planning to bring your own bike, the shuttle costs you $18. Otherwise you can enjoy the free ride included in the rental packages.
  • Try to schedule your shuttle in advance (And be there 30 minutes early) to use the best of your time
  • Until you get to Marlette lake, the first 4 miles is the hardest part (Of the 14 miles trip). Then you are basically enjoying a downhill ride, almost to the end of the trail.
  • Before entering the trail, make sure all of your biking gear is packed properly and that you are prepared for the weather
  • The trail is about 14 miles long, it will lead you to some of Tahoe’s most beautiful and remote areas

It’s well worth the effort

If you are looking for a great mountain bike ride that offers amazing scenery with plenty of wildlife, the Tahoe flume trail is an excellent choice. The 14 mile one way route starts at Spooner Lake and ends at Incline Beach on Crystal Bay in Nevada (just outside of South Lake Tahoe). This moderate difficulty point to point ride will take most riders about 3 hours to complete, but it’s well worth the effort! Join our Facebook group where we share cycling tips just like this all day long.

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