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Mountain Biking

Truckee-Tahoe’s top five mountain bike trails.

Beyond the 26 miles of trails that wind their way past a breathtaking tour of some of Lake Tahoe’s finest luxury homes and Martis Camp’s many other amenities, is a playground of dirt, rocks, ups and downs that provide a virtual nirvana for those who enjoy a close relationship with their mountain bikes. Like the tour of homes, this adventure is breathtaking as well – in a literal sense.

One who knows these trails like the back of his handlebars is Dominic Cristalli. Rarely does a day go by where Cristalli, a licensed agent and Property Coordinator for Martis Camp Realty, doesn’t find himself saddled up and bounding down a single-track trail not far from his home in Truckee.

“Anyone who knows anything about mountain biking is well aware that this place is paradise,” said Cristalli. “I can scale my ride up or down or as near or far as the day allows me,” he added. That scale – ranging from casual beginners to airborne adrenaline junkies — is off the charts as far as mountain biking destinations go. The area has fast become what many are calling one of the west’s great biking scenes. And much of it is just beyond that back door.

Mountain Biking Truckee Paul Hamill

Sawtooth and Big Chief trails: just beyond the back door.

“Without ever leaving Martis Camp, you can be on the Sawtooth Trail in a matter of minutes,” said Cristalli of the relatively casual trail with an abundance of slow rolling undulations. The cross-country loop can be covered within an hour or you can choose to stretch it out a bit further and venture off to other trail systems in this maze of singletracks. One of those outer trails is the Big Chief Trail that can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours. From Martis Camp, it’s a good uphill grind that eventually rewards you with some playful downhills that incorporate jumps and berms and technical rock features into the trailscape and that also dish up some amazing views.

Apps and advice on mastering the maze of pleasures.

A handy tool for finding your way from one trail to the next is the trailforks app. The app is updated by trail associations and riders and includes trail conditions and allows you to plan your own ride or share a new trail with friends and family. This app is particularly helpful as new trails are being built or expanded, such as Happy Face and Woodsplitter, two trails a short pedal from Martis Camp that provide a fun introduction to those looking into mountain biking as well as for those who enjoy the prospect of a family outing in the local forests.

Another great resource for trail information, skill classes, and riding clinics is, a locally owned operation that offers hands on advice and inside tips on where to go, what to pack, and how best to enjoy your day in the saddle.

Truckee Mountain Biking

The Donner Rim Trail: redefining the notion of a “Donner Party”

When it’s time to up your game and burn off your breakfast, load up the car and you’re no more than 15 minutes from a variety of other trails. The Donner Lake Rim Trail is, as its name implies, a route possessing impressive views of Donner Lake. The main trail appeals to all levels and skills while others splinter off to more aggressive adventures. “I really like being able to head off to the parking lot at Glacier Way and working my way up to the Drifter Hut,” said Cristalli. “Time it right and you’ll be in a sea of wildflowers and maybe see some wildlife,” he added, noting that this trail provides a good, fast flow for beginners and intermediate riders.

On the south side of Donner Lake, accessible by parking on Highway 89 just beyond West River Street, is Donkey Town (known to locals as Jackass), a trail that appeals to intermediate and advanced riders who will find a one-way loop containing views of Truckee and a playful assortment of bumps. This trail, along with the nearby A1, is one of the most popular you’ll encounter in the area.

Tahoe City; the hub of great trails and good times.

Wind your way up the Truckee River to Tahoe City and you’ll arrive at what’s likely the epicenter of single-track adventures. The city itself is a focal point with trails beginning where neighborhood streets end. The culture of sport and the joy of gathering are on full display as you’ll find quaint coffee shops where you can lay out your plans and fuel your body and, at the end of the trail, classic pubs like The Bridgetender where you can recount the adventures of your day.

For Cristalli, the trails he most gravitates to include a grind up Ocelot followed by a downhill run on Stumpy Super G and another climb/descent to Painted Rock. Follow that up with a climb to Glass Mountain along the Tahoe Rim Trail highlighted by powerful views of Lake Tahoe. The final descent from there is nothing short of exhilarating while the burger and beer at the end of the day is nothing short of bliss.

Northstar Mountain Biking

Northstar California. When you want to go big.

The cherry on the list of lung-busting adventures is Northstar California, the place Cristalli deems “the best bike park in California.” While there are a few warm up trails for novices, Northstar California is known as a place where one can test his mettle by tackling trails that will awaken the hairs on the back of your neck. This is where such race series such as the Enduro often take place. Climb on board the gondola and you’ll find yourself at the top in no time flat, ready to test out yet another trail. More info at

A pair of bucket listers: the Flume Trail and Downieville Downhill.

Open up your trailforks app and you’ll see just how varied the biking scene is in this area. Broaden your travels beyond Truckee and you’ll be tackling the famed Flume Trail that seems to levitate above a pool of Tahoe blue. Drive an hour north of Truckee and you’ll find yourself on a ridge overlooking the western flank of the Sierra. This is the Downieville Downhill, a ride that exists on nearly every rider’s bucket list. The trails descend to the charming, historic mining town of Downieville with its blend of bars and restaurants and the pleasantly cool waters of the Yuba River.

Ready to learn more?

Call us today at 1-800-721-9005 to discover how Mountain Biking and our other engaging lifestyle amenities have created a truly unsurpassed Tahoe experience at Martis Camp.

Ready to learn more?

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