Playing on the Truckee River


by Tim Hauserman

Nothing like a Saturday afternoon ride along the Truckee River to remind me to pass on a few tips about rafting or riding on the Truckee River.

Rafting the Truckee

The big winter we just had led to a topsy turfy summer for rafting on the Truckee River. The Goldilocks zone for rafting is between 200-400 cubic feet per second (cfs) released from the dam at Fanny Bridge. During much of the spring the dam was releasing more than 1000 cfs, and at times it was over 1400 cfs, which flooded the bike trail along the river. Once the lake reached it’s maximum and there was not the need to open the gates the Watermaster started releasing more water downstream from the full Boca and Stampede Reservoirs, and cut back the releases from Lake Tahoe to about 75 cubic feet per second…not enough to raft.

Today, I saw a lot of private rafts in the water. Unfortunately, I was seeing rafts in the water being pulled by people who were dragging them over rocks instead of floating. There are two ways to find out when is a good time to raft the Truckee. First, if the rafting companies are open and floating down the Upper Truckee, there is the right amount of water being released (they are not operating now), and second, you can go to the USGS Link that shows how much water is being released.

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/ca/nwis/uv?site_no=10337500

Look for somewhere in the 200-400 cfs range.

Riding along the Truckee

The five mile bike trail from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley is one of the prettiest trails anywhere, traveling next to the river the whole way. It’s a narrow trail, and as you can imagine, a popular place. Here are a few tips to both keep you safe and to literally avoid running into others on the trail:

Remember a bike trail is like a road, and just like on a road, if you stand in the middle of it and don’t pay attention, you may get run over.

Ride on the right, walk on the left (so that the walkers can see you coming).

If riding, say, “On your left” as you pass people on the left.

If walking, be prepared for fast moving bikes, so you don’t freak out when you hear someone say “On your left”

Take up just one side of the trail. If you are a group of four people, please don’t walk or ride four abreast, this makes it impossible for a fast moving bike to get around you. Remember a bike trail is like a road, and like a road, you are only allowed one lane.

Watch out for: children and adults who are oblivious to other users and rafters coming off the river without looking.