Lake Tahoe is quickly becoming a premier destination for mountain biking and I took a brief window of opportunity this morning to experience one of the classic Tahoe rides: “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride“. No doubt named because the extreme technical nature of this trail will throw you around at least as much as the Disneyland ride though that ride doesn’t come with the significant risk of physical injury that the Tahoe variety does.
I took the 20 mile route which is likely the most popular given if you aren’t taking any sort of shuttle service the climb for this loop is about as easy as it could be. Not an easy climb from 6200 ft to 9200 ft of elevation but the grade is generally less than I’m used to which evens out with the altitude impact which is quite noticeable for this sea-level rider.
Parking at the exit from Mr. Toad’s is ideal and then you start with a paved climb for about 3.5 miles before getting on dirt for a continued climb. I used the directions from tamba.org to get to the parking spot. I started from there at 6:20 am having left Incline Village in north Lake Tahoe at about 5:20am. Not long into the dirt climb up Armstrong Pass it hailed for about 5 minutes! Yes, hail! And no, there was no indication in the weather report. Welcome to the mountains. Truth be told, it was quite refreshing but I was happy for it to stop. I was not geared for sub-50s wet riding.
The connection from Armstrong to the Tahoe rim trail (TRT) was well marked and obvious. The TRT is amazing. The views, as you see from the featured image and this one on the backside:
are phenomenal and it’s not just from South Lake. I stumbled across a little social ride called “Rose to Toads” which takes the TRT from north of Incline Village all the way to where I rode today. If I can get away in September I’m definitely going to do it!
Two sections on this route, IMO, are unridable. Perhaps you consider that a challenge but seriously there’s an uphill on the TRT that no speed will allow you up and there’s a downhill on Toad’s that you can start but once you see nothing but giant boulder drops with turns you’ll likely do the risk/reward calculation as I did and just dismount. It’s ok, this section isn’t too long and there are still plenty of technical challenges you can clean still to come.
Nothing, however, beats the descent once the major technical stuff is cleared. Burms and soft twisting single track seem to go on forever until you reach a fire road which still provides some rolling fun before you reach your starting spot. Ending on this note only serves to drive your mind into the “should I do it again” or “I’m coming back tomorrow” mode.
Unlike my ride on the Lost Coast recently I was happy to see multiple riders during and after this ride. It’s a popular one, and for good reason. Take Mr. Toad’s for a wild ride and come back often. I’m planning to!