Mountain biking along General Creek is phenomenal right now. The ride, located in Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, is one of the best incremental rides in all of Tahoe. You go from mellow as can be, to intermediate, to hike-a-bike depending on how deep you want to take the ride. One mile, twelve miles- whatever you’re capable of, whatever you are feeling, it can be found in the General Creek zone.
Well, if you want to rage big DH hits and such, this might not be the place for you. But for the rest of you, listen up. Beginners first. Paved bike path, check. Pavement turning to essentially flat dirt, check. Loop trail that can be ridden shorter, but maintains consistency and beauty for 4.5 miles, check. Basically, the General Creek loop inside of the State Park is ideal for families and beginners to mountain biking. The gorgeous setting, on the heavily forested West Shore, is a perfect place to spend a few hours cruising your bike around.
For the more intermediate ride, that can be extended to 10 miles and beyond, don’t turn at the bridge, which is about 2 miles from where you started at the end of the campground (west side of Highway 89). That’s where you turn to do the mellow loop. But if you look immediately right when the trail bends south, towards the bridge, you’ll see the start to the singletrack that continues following General Creek west.
The ride stays in a more or less dry forest setting similar to the State Park, before opening up into a pretty meadow,
and then going back into the trees. This forest section is a bit more lush and shaded throughout the day.
The further you go, the more incrementally difficult the ride gets. Overall, the trail maintains a mostly x-country feel, with some nice twists and turns, and a few technical sections to negotiate, before you get to a spot where you have to cross the creek.
General Creek is one of the 63 tributaries that run into Lake Tahoe. The pools along the upper end of the creek are still pretty full, and very worth a soak if you’re into it. This crossing is where most people turn back, after having ridden about 4.5 miles one-way. However, there are still several options for the intrepid rider beyond the creek crossing.
If you stray away from General Creek because it’s generally too flat in the beginning, here’s where the more technical riding is found. There’s still a good deal of x-country terrain, but there’s also a few sections that are steep, loose, narrow and rocky. Once you cross the creek, keep riding (good luck on this short but ridiculous section!) for less than a mile until you come to a sign. Left is towards Lost lake, and the other option will end up taking you out to the Rubicon Trail. Currently, the latter is absolutely beaming with wildflowers, surprisingly going off so late in the season, so much so that they are walling-in certain parts of the singletrack.
Once you hit the confluence with the Rubicon you can either keep riding on that network of off-road trails, or turn around and ride on back towards Sugar Pine Point State Park. The out and back is about 14 +/- miles.
With the Lake close for a dip and PDQ right there for a sando post-ride, give General Creek a check this week, or hit it up next time you’re down the West Shore. It’s not as dusty as you might think, or might be finding on other trails in Tahoe right now, which is a perfect change of pace for Tahoe mountain biking in August.