This fully supported tour takes place in the Sierra Nevada, lovingly dubbed the “Range of Light” by conservationist John Muir, on a spectacular section of Adventure Cycling’s Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route. The air is ethereally light and in early autumn, as auto-bound tourists head home, you’ll experience some of the most sublime alpine landscapes in the world as we travel from the heart of the Sierra to the dramatic eastern escarpment. We’ll take in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain, with an optional visit to Yosemite National Park, and experience hidden gems like June Lake Loop, Mono Lake, and Monitor Pass, high above the Great Basin.
Discover why this tour was included in Chris Santella’s book, Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die. See the Sierra like you’ve never imagined possible on this supported eight-day tour!
|Start Date:||Sep 20, 2014||End Date:||Sep 27, 2014|
|Start Location:||Truckee, CA||End Location:||Truckee, CA|
|Total Days:||8||Riding Days:||6|
|Rest Days:||2||Level of Support:||Fully Supported|
|Miles:||350||Average Daily Mileage:||58.3|
|Accommodations:||Camping, Motel Options||Physical Difficulty:||Intermediate+|
|Airport:||Reno-Tahoe Intl.||Tour Leader:||Meredith Watson|
Truckee. The Sierra Sampler will start in historic Truckee, California, which is easily accessed from Nevada's Reno Tahoe International Airport. Truckee is a thriving resort community just north of Lake Tahoe, and is infamous as the place where the Donner Party was stranded in the brutal winter of 1846-47. Our tour will take place after Labor Day, just as the cottonwoods and aspens are ready to turn colors and the weather in the Sierra is excellent for riding. If you arrive early enough, there are wonderful local rides out of Truckee to help you acclimate, including the old and lightly trafficked state highway that circles Donner Lake and ascends past white granite to sweeping views of Mount Rose in Nevada. Later in the evening, after our orientation meeting and dinner, we’ll sleep beneath the stars, resting up for our ride around Lake Tahoe, one of the Sierra’s most renowned natural treasures.
Truckee to South Lake Tahoe, 42 miles. We’ll head south along the Truckee River and eventually join the bike path running from Squaw Valley to the town of Tahoe City. Squaw Valley was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and is a quick jaunt up a side road if you’re curious. Heading down the west side of Lake Tahoe, which is the largest and second deepest alpine lake in North America you’ll enjoy the shoreline string of gorgeous state parks where you can enjoy the views or take a swim. Lovely Emerald Bay is a highlight, with Fannette Island at its heart. Most of this first day of riding is on flat or rolling terrain with lots of services en route.
South Lake Tahoe to Topaz Lake, 60 miles. After an overnight in South Lake Tahoe, we’ll get to climb out of the Tahoe Basin by way of Luther Pass, which leads to the fabulous and hidden Hope Valley, dotted with aspen groves, watered by the Carson River, and sheltered by a section of the Sierra known as California’s Alps. You’ll pass through the small town of Markleeville, the gateway to Monitor Pass, one of the most beautiful passes leading from California to Nevada. The road to Monitor is lightly trafficked and when you reach its summit, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world. The downhill is thrilling, and sends you soaring toward the Great Basin. Once you reach the bottom, it’s a short ride to our camp location at Topaz Lake.
Topaz Lake to Lee Vining, 80 miles. From Topaz Lake, you’ll travel south along the eastern edge of the Sierra through a series of small towns, riding near the historic ghost town of Bodie. Among the most spectacular views will be the verdant and capacious Bridgeport Valley, with sightlines to the jagged boundary of Yosemite National Park. You’ll then climb up the backside of Conway Summit, which was immortalized by Ansel Adams. At the top of the summit, you’ll marvel at a panoramic view of Mono Lake, one of the most famous and beautiful terminal lakes in the world (it has no out-flowing creeks or rivers), and the Minaret Range and eastern Sierra escarpment. Your climbing is done for the day. Enjoy the incredible downhill and sweeping turns into Lee Vining.
Lee Vining, Layover Day. In Lee Vining, we’ll enjoy a layover day with many recreational options, from riding up Tioga Pass, visiting famous Yosemite National Park, and canoeing or hiking around Mono Lake, to riding around the Mono Basin. You could also kick back at one of the many beaches or parks on Mono Lake’s shoreline. Lee Vining is home to the Mono Lake Committee, a renowned non-profit that helped save the lake from excessive water diversions to Los Angeles. Today, they run educational programs about the area and arrange canoe trips and hikes. Whatever you do, you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery, delicious meals, and a wonderful place to camp as the sunsets on the Sierra to the west and the Great Basin to the east.
Lee Vining to Mammoth Lakes, 40 miles. We’ll head back up into the higher elevations today through pine-perfumed forests. A lovely interlude is the June Lake Loop, where we’ll pedal by four small lakes and Oh! Ridge. We’ll also have plenty of quality time at Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain. Known for its superb winter skiing, Mammoth is a fantastic place for mountain and road biking, gondola trips up the mountains, swimming, and fishing. You can start exploring after your ride or just relax knowing that you have an entire day to enjoy one of the best cycling and recreational centers in the entire Sierra Nevada.
Mammoth Lakes, Layover Day, 20-60 optional miles. Today you can choose from three different loop rides, or sleep in and check out Mammoth Lakes, which offers many superb outdoor recreation options. You can rent a mountain bike and ride up the mountains or catch a lift and just go the downhill route. You could also spend the day soaking in Mammoth Hot Creek. Of special interest for road cyclists is the day-ride out of Mammoth to the Minaret Summit, with its spectacular views of sawtooth ridges, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park. You can continue from the summit down a slender car-free road to Red’s Meadow and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. The Postpile is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt; its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry. You can ride back out or catch a shuttle bus back to Minaret Summit. If you’d like more miles, there are other beautiful road ride choices, out towards Bishop and the White Mountains or toward Nevada. We’ll help you explore all your options. At the end of the day, we’ll celebrate with one last Sierra supper and a night under the stars.
Shuttle to Truckee. After breakfast, we’ll get an early start on our shuttle back to Truckee, which will include beautiful views along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. We’ll get to Truckee by lunchtime, allowing people the chance to catch an afternoon flight from Reno or perhaps spend some more time in the gorgeous Sierra Nevada.
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"Great staff, great single-track."
2007 Tour Participant
"Loved every minute of it!"
2012 Tour Participant
"Tour leaders were an excellent combination. Very knowledgable, approachable, and went beyond what was expected of them which was greatly appreciated."
2012 Tour Participant
"The staff had their 'stuff' together; great organization!"
2008 Tour Participant