Biking the Emigrant trail

9 Aug

The Emigrant trail is a great intermediate ride off of highway 89 in Truckee that takes you out to Stampede Reservoir.  Its a 20 mile out and back trail that offers a wide range of terrain.  I just rode this trail for the first time and was extremely pleased with it.  I was warned this trail gets crowded on the weekends and after riding it, I think crowded is an understatement. Its clear this is one of the areas most popular rides.  The ride took around three hours in total and that’s with plenty of water breaks.

The trail itself is a fairly mellow single track and would be enjoyed by anyone from novice to well experienced riders.  The trail start off running right next to Prosser Creek and from there turns up and crosses a dirt road.  From there its pretty simple, just follow the single-track all the way to Stampede Reservoir. Throughout these 9 miles you will cross a number of dirt roads, but the main crossings are marked and the way across the minor ones are pretty obvious. The whole trail is a single track that’s constantly changing.  It feels as if your peddling the whole ride and and rarely feels like there’s a section where you get to ease off.  The trail begins at 5700 ft and climbs to Stampede Reservoir at 6100 ft.  The setting is high desert/mountain forest where the vegetation ranges from sagebrush to Jeffery pines to White Fir.

My recommendation for any one doing the trail is to bring LOTS of water and a few snacks if you can back them.  Also, if you think you will want to swim once you get to the reservoir, pack a swimsuit.  This was something I did not do, but regretted as soon as I saw the shimmering blue water.  Another great perk about this trail is it is one of the first trails to shed the winter snow, so it also makes a good early season warm-up.   This trail is great for anyone looking for a long enjoyable ride with a great break at Stampede Reservoir.

Directions: As you drive to the trailhead on CA-89, you will pass the Donner Encampment historical site. You can ride from the historical site parking area, but the most popular trailhead is just past the Prosser Creek bridge on CA-89, north of Truckee. If you reach Hobart Mills Road, you’ve gone too far.


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