Sierra Sampler

Trip Dates:
Sep 12, 2015 -- Sep 19, 2015
Truckee, CA (Soda Springs)
Booking Status:

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 12, 2015 End Date: Sep 19, 2015
Start Location: Truckee, CA (Soda Springs) End Location: Truckee, CA (Soda Springs)
Total Days: 8 Riding Days: 6
Rest Days: 2 Miles: 341
Average Daily Mileage: 56.8 Surface: Paved
Riders: 60 Elevation Alert: High Point: 8,314'
Airport: Reno-Tahoe Intl. Tour Leader: Kelly Dubay
Caterer: KJ Productions (Kathy) Meals: Catered meals
Accommodations: Camping, Motel Options Type: Supported
Physical Difficulty: Intermediate+ Level of Support: Fully Supported
Cost: $1,199.00

Day 1

Donner Summit. The Sierra Sampler will begin just outside of Truckee in Donner Summit, noted by cyclists as the entry to the Sierras. The area is accessed from Nevada’s Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Our tour will take place 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, visit and enjoy the charm of downtown Truckee with its unique shops and experience the gritty past and vibrant present of this historic railroad town, or take advantage of the many rides in the area to get you acclimated to the Sierras. You can also visit the Donner Party Memorial and the adjacent Emigrant Trial Museum which can provide insight to the struggles the Donner Party faced crossing the Sierras. Later in the evening, after our orientation meeting and dinner, we’ll sleep beneath the stars, resting up for our ride over Donner Pass to Lake Tahoe, one of the Sierra’s most renowned natural treasures.

Day 2

Donner Summit to South Lake Tahoe, 70 miles. We’ll begin our tour with the classic ride over Donner Pass with some of the most impressive views of the Sierras. We’ll experience the spectacular descent into Truckee, crossing one of the most photographed bridges in the Sierra, as we wind our way down to Donner Lake. 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 shore of Lake Tahoe, you’ll enjoy the string of gorgeous state parks where you can enjoy the views or take a swim. Most of this first day of riding is on rolling terrain with lots of services en route.

Day 3

Lake Tahoe, layover day. A full day to explore the most spectacular alpine lake in North America. The shores of Lake Tahoe offer recreational opportunities galore, each allowing you to observe the natural beauty of the lake and the Sierras. We will offer an optional 72-mile ride around Lake Tahoe to get the total Lake Tahoe cycling adventure. Or, for those wishing for a different bike pace, enjoy a mountain bike ride along the spectacular Flume trail. Or, feel free to take a swim or boat on the crystal blue waters of Lake Tahoe.

Day 4

South Lake Tahoe to Walker, 63 miles. We'll 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 the charming eastern slope town of Walker, where we’ll set up camp for the night.

Day 5

Walker to Lee Vining, 58 miles. From Walker, you’ll travel south through the river canyon as the wild and scenic Walker River flows north to Topaz Lake. We’ll continue 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.

Day 6

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.

Day 7

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. An option for an additional ride of 5 miles will take you to the Minaret Summit, with its spectacular views of sawtooth ridges, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park. 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.

Day 8

Shuttle to Donner. After breakfast, we’ll get an early start on our shuttle back to Donner Summit, which will include beautiful views along the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe. We’ll arrive near lunchtime, allowing people the chance to catch an afternoon flight from Reno or perhaps spend some more time in the gorgeous Sierra Nevada.

"Beautiful scenery and a challenging ride makes for a great combination."

2013 Tour Participant

"Had a great time!"

2013 Tour Participant

"We had a very strong group of riders on our tour, including the two 81 year old participants who climbed Tioga Pass with determination. I always enjoy the food provided by KJ Productions (Kathy & Jack.)"

2013 Tour Participant

Photo by Michael Lessard