Finally got out on a ride with Sean yesterday, this time he took me to Grouse Ridge. It wasn’t really a beatdown but i am pretty tired today. We drove about an hour up the hill towards Tahoe and turned off on 20 and parked somewhere up Bowman Lake Road. After a few miles on the road we linked onto a trail around Loney Meadow and began a loop with old dirt roads, a backcountry singletrack that was sometimes no more than a deer trail through the brush and rocks, in and out of granite lake “valleys”, and finally descending to Lake Spaulding on some of the coolest granite slickrock and unused trail I’ve been on in a long time. It took almost 6.5 hours to go just 32 miles… The average speed was pretty slow mostly due to the technical nature of the trails, almost trials-like riding at times to stay on the bike and trail. These trails aren’t buff…they barely seemed used, especially at the start and end of the loop. For some reason this area isn’t very used (at least by people), with the exception of the Island Lake area which is easily accessible from a couple of trailheads.
I didn’t take many photos going down the Grouse Ridge Trail because, well, it was a pretty sweet over the back of the seat descent, and I would’ve killed myself had I taken my hand off the bar to grab the camera. There were several mandatory (for us at least) walking sections that we maybe would’ve attempted were we younger and stupider. Overall, the trail dropped 2,000ft down the side of Grouse Ridge into Fordyce Creek where the trail weaves on and off the granite slickrock along the creek’s north side. This was one of my favorite parts of the ride, classic Sierra feel to it with lots of water, big trees, and some technical granite singletrack. Lower down, the trail got somewhat difficult to find with us “hopping” downed logs that couldn’t be cleared without a backhoe and going ‘downhill’ for 6 miles and it taking over an hour!
The ride reminded me of riding in the high country of Colorado with the rocky technical loose descents, long views, and less oxygen. After dunking our heads in a creek with only a couple miles to go we ended screaming down the upper Emigrant Trail back to a short road climb back to the truck. Being over 90 degrees at the car, we jumped in the nearest lake. Sean smartly stashed an iced water cooler in his truck so when we got back from the ride we didn’t have to drink hot water…that was the best water I’ve tasted in a long time!
The pictures attempt to do this ride justice, but hope you enjoy this taste of the Sierras.