Sawtooth Ridge boasts excellent rock climbing and great mountain biking in the same immediate zone. It’s a favorite area for North Tahoe-Truckee locals due to the easy access, as well as the plentiful high-quality options for a few hours of outdoor fun.
Once you get up to the Truckee Regional Park, and find your way back to the dusty, somewhat bumpy USFS Road 06 you have options, especially for climbing. There’s at least 4 crags to choose from accessible off this road. Big Chief is the most popular crag in this vicinity. Excellent sport climbing is found here. The nearby Light Deprivation Buttress also holds a bunch of quality routes and is accessible from the Big Chief Parking Area.
Little Chief is a bit smaller, but has several worthy routes to check out, as does the Sawtooth Ridge which is where the climbing photos that accompany this piece were taken. The climbing on most of these crags is on basalt. If you’re a granite snob you might not like it, but it’s a nice change-up once in a while, especially if you’re into sport climbing.
The routes on Sawtooth Ridge (above photo) are really fun, very much like Big Chief and the rest of cragging to be found off USFS Road 06. However, this area is way less crowded than Big Chief. Jillian and I were there last Saturday, midday after mountain biking the super fun, nearby Sawtooth Ridge Trail, and literally saw no one. The rock is just as fun, the routes are just as fun, it’s just enough off the beaten path to deter most visitors to the zone.
The mountain biking on the Sawtooth Ridge Trail is also a great excuse to hit up this Truckee locale. Usually the ride is a bit dusty this time of year, but after the recent precipitation the trail has been riding incredibly smooth. Even when it’s dusty, it’s still a fun trail that you can either take for a quick leisurely ride, or ride deeper for several miles on end.
The trail is characterized by a healthy dose of semi-sharp rocks littered throughout many portions of the trail. There’s actually so many rock outcroppings strewn about the trail, when you actually lock into a section of singletrack without any rocks, it’s very noticeable. That said, the rock sections aren’t really all that technical, and they give riders a nice opportunity to learn to read singletrack, and learn to pick a line. This will help a rider translate such skills onto other steeper, more technical rides in our greater area when they’re ready.
Here’s a nice map of the Sawtooth mountain biking zone to give you an idea of the riding potential.
Map Courtesy of : mtbsingletrack
As you can see there’s a bunch of options off the Sawtooth Trail. You can ride it in sections, or you can even ride the trail east, link back up with USFS Road 06, and head all the way into Tahoe City. This latter option opens up a wealth of terrain available to the savvy mountain biker.
We have so many options for world-class climbing and mountain biking in our Tahoe environs that sometimes it’s hard to choose what trail/crag is worth the visit. The Sawtooth Ridge zone is fully worthy. It’s a great place to climb, and a great place to bike. Check out the mountain biking link I posted for more details about potential rides in our area, and pick up the new North Tahoe climbing book at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City if you’re looking for more beta on local climbing opportunities.