By Tim Hauserman
A ribbon cutting was held on October 22nd for the opening of the 2.2 mile paved bike trail which leads from Dollar Hill to the end of Fulton Crescent Road in Cedar Flat. The trail, which passes through the forest and over Dollar Creek is the first step towards eventually connecting Tahoe City and Kings Beach via an off the road paved bike trail.
The trail started as an idea in the mind of Larry Sevison in 1988. Sevison, who has been on the Board of the North Tahoe Public Utility District as well as the Placer County Board of Supervisors, was seeking to connect the Tahoe City Public Utility District’s trail network with the Regional Park network of trails in Tahoe Vista. This network then connects to Kings Beach. But even though this first phase was only two miles long, there were a ton of issues getting it built. There were land ownership problems, environmental concerns and of course funding. But finally, with a lot of help from the federal government, Placer County, the Tahoe Conservancy and even the non-profit Tahoe Fund, it finally has come to fruition.
I took the trail for a spin the day of the ribbon cutting. Actually I went twice. I arrived at the ceremony early, and headed out on the trail once before the speeches started, then joined a few others for an after the cutting celebration ride. The trail begins at the end of the Dollar Hill Trail just east of the 7-11, and right before the entrance to Dollar Point. There is also an off-street parking lot that can be accessed to begin the ride.
The trail heads immediately away from the highway with a gentle incline, circling around the edge of properties in The Highlands. It then begins a downhill, and passing over a popular mountain biking trail which is also the Blue Trail at Tahoe XC in the winter, before crossing a bridge over Dollar Creek, and then once again crossing the Blue Trail.
While this trail is a paved trail perfect for road bikes, it also provides access to a wide variety of dirt trails used by mountain bikers. On the day I rode in addition to bikes I also saw runners, dog walkers and a skate boarder. While the skate boarder was keeping a pretty good pace on the downhill and screeching around the corners, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to put my first aid skills to use if he went skidding off the trail or took a major tumble.
From the bridge, the trail begins to climb. While it is well graded you will get a good workout as it winds through the pines, firs and manzanita and takes a few sharp turns to ease the grade. In several spots the trail is built right next to some interesting boulders. After about a mile, the grade eases, and then it glides gently downhill before taking a sharp turn to pop out at the end of Fulton Crescent, near the top of Old County Road.
The goal eventually is for the current end of the trail to just be an access trail to the main trail, which will continue towards Tahoe Vista. There are another six miles to go. Hopefully the pace of finishing this next segment will be quite a bit faster, otherwise i will be too old and feeble by the time it is completed, and I can’t wait to be able to ride off the highway from Tahoe City to Kings Beach.
In the meantime the trail is still a great addition to the trail network. It would be a perfect place to teach kids how to ride. It is off the highway, there is parking right there, and the trail shouldn’t get the crowds seen on the Truckee River bike trail between Tahoe City and Squaw Valley. It will also give bike riders a ten mile out and back ride from Tahoe City, instead of the current six miles, and four of those miles will be through a quiet forest.
Between this new addition to the trail network, and the mile of trail between Sugar Pine Point and Meeks Bay, bike trail ridership will spread out a bit reducing the numbers on the overly busy section of trail between Tahoe City and Squaw Valley.