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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got my vacation approved for the 7th and I'm planning on taking my sons to my sisters in Carson City. I'm going to book us a day at Northstar (lifts: a bike bucket list item) and instead of doing a second day, I thought I'd try a shuttle service at Flume Trail Bikes.

I emailed about the trail as I was concerned about my youngest, and he said as long as they can recognize their limits and walk those sections if needed, they'd be fine. Said it's a 14 mile ride with 1000' of fire road climb in the first 4 miles.

Any done this or familiar with the trail? I can't find the trail on Trailforks or MTB Project. Just want to make sure they have a good time.
 

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Short-Change-Hero
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Are you talking about riding up the Tunnel Creek Rd. to the Flume? If so, that is a gnarly climb, very dusty and loose in sections (or normally is depending on weather).

TC Shuttle gives two options;
1 - Ride from Mt. Rose Meadows to Flume
2 - Ride from Spooner Lake to Flume

Both have decent climbs to them with the latter being the more "challenging" simply because of pitch to get up to Marlette Lake. From there it really depends on where you go (clockwise or counter around Marlette).

How old is your youngest? How good of a rider are they? Do they ride often? Lots of people do it with their kids but really depends on the questions above. More "kid" friendly route will be to go from Spooner up to Marlette and then clockwise out to the Flume.
 

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If they can do Northstar then Flume is easy----but get some input on other options from the folks here---I found the climb up to the flume a total ***** at altitude and the trail itself is not challenging and not very interesting----the view is the thing and I bet only you appreciate that.
 

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The Flume trail sucks, it's a long arse climb up gravel road with minimal shade, flume trail itself is beginner "track and a half", then you finish with a ride down steep and sandy gravel roads. Not worth the money or time.

I'm assuming the Northstar riding is for you and the Flume trail is for the kids, but if the kids are going to Northstar and can ride modertae terrain, I'd suggest you shuttle Tahoe Meadows to the Flume or Armstrong Track (Over the Edge Bike shop shuttle).

You can also self shuttle Clear Creek from Spooner to Jack's Valley, that would be waaay more fun than the Flume and easier.

Not to poopoo on your bucket list, but going to Northstar is not all that, and you are missing out on much better riding in the surrounding area. Tahoe/Truckee/Reno/Carson has a lot of really good riding.

Need a riding buddy, give me a hollar :)
 

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I did not want to say flume sucked above but yes it sucks----nasty climb---boring trail--and sucky fore road back===seriously not worth traveling for
Yeah, you were being polite, me, not so much ;)

I never understood the appeal, it's an ugly hard climb, the lake is nice, the "single track" is not terrible, but then the finish is just down a gravel road.

I remember riding the flume in the early eighties, not much has changed, though the trail is wider, the road is smoother, there are more users, and it seems like the black flies are not as bad.
 

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I can recommend shuttling to Spooner Summit with Flume Trail Bikes. The climb up to the Flume Trail from there is really not that bad, though it is sandy with a few steep sections. I enjoy climbing, FWIW, though I'm not particularly good at it. Marlette Lake is very scenic and there can be a lot of wildflowers along the way, particularly after a wet winter like last one. Once you hit the actual Flume Trail the views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding mountains are as spectacular as advertised. As others posters have said the riding isn't technical and reasonable fit beginners can easily complete this ride.

I rode the trail several times in the early 80s and again in 2014, mostly for reasons of nostalgia. On the most recent ride I rented from Flume Trail Bikes and found them to be a first-class small business. The owner, Max Jones, a former champion racer for Mongoose and MTB Hall of Famer, set up my bike and drove me to the trailhead. It was fun talking to him about racing alongside teammate Jon Tomac and against competitors like Overend and Murray. Great guy, down to earth, with a small mtb business worth supporting. Had a couple of beers and a good sandwich at the cafe next to bike shop. After my morning ride on the Flume Trail I had them shuttle me up to Tahoe Meadows and rode back to the shop on the TRT. The riding up there had some intermediate tech features. Also recommended.

The riding isn't world-class, but the views are and I think most intermediate riders would enjoy it. If your kids enjoy the outdoors I would guess they would enjoy it, too. I suppose it really depends on what you're looking for.
 

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L1MEY
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You don't do the Flume for the trail, you do it for the scenery. I do it every year with my coworkers and always enjoy it even though I've ridden it multiple times before. It doesn't suck, but you're not going to get a premium singletrack experience... it's basically a very scenic rail trail sandwiched between a couple of fire roads. That said, I've taken a few people there over the years and they've all enjoyed the experience.

For the OP, if you do the shuttle from Spooner Lake it starts out as a fire road climb of 4 ish miles and the last 1/4 mile is very steep. Then you drop down to Marlette Lake which is really pretty and a nice place to eat lunch (go out onto the rocks past the pit toilet). You then go around the west side of Marlette and pick up the Flume Trail proper. It's easy singletrack with a wide tread, but beware of exposure if anyone in your party is afraid of heights. There is one very short section where there is a high penalty for failure... I always walk it with the bike on the cliff side because I'd rather it went over than me! The Flume is about 7 miles with no climbing to speak of, but you're here for the views, which are fantastic! The fire road back down to Tunnel Creek is steep and sandy, and there are lots of hikers on it, so controlling your speed is important. Unfortunately the cafe at the bottom is being renovated right now, otherwise I'd suggest eating there afterwards.

There are plenty of other trails in the area that are great and also have excellent views of Tahoe... it really depends on how capable the riders in your group are. The Incline Flume trail also has good views of Tahoe (though not quite as good as the Marlette Flume) and there is no fire road portion if you start at the Mt. Rose Hwy end (can be done as an out and back or a shuttle). Or you could ride from the Tahoe Meadows trailhead on the TRT, which is a super fun ride and a lot more challenging than either of the flumes. Flume Trail Bikes is a reputable outfit and I wouldn't hesitate to use them if you choose to shuttle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wow awesome info from both sides of the fence!

It's hard to explain when it comes to the kids. In broad strokes I call them "generation app" and having recently found MTB'ing for myself, it's turned into something they both like to do with me, something that hasn't been the case with the family situation (divorce, work, schools, etc). They don't MTB as often as I do (hell, I don't as often as I'd like to) so they are still at beginner level, but they don't ride stupid, learn every ride, and really enjoy it.

So yes the Flume idea was more of something intended for "us". With the younger one is 13, he is smart but not always the steadiest on the bike, would be the one I want to be sure he's enjoying most of the ride.

My thoughts were more of riding conditions like this:



and maybe a bit of this:


And not so much of this (which is what I really like):


So with that, I'm not sold on Flume, and ideally something with not an oxygen fish out of water gasping for breath climb would great. My brain thought, "shuttle? that means no real climb".

As for Northstar, I am trusting that there are runs AJ (my younger son) can spend the day on, and really enjoy descents without the climbs. I figure spending a couple hours with both of them, getting them comfortable with where the trails are and so forth, before going off and finding some chunky technical downhill stuff for me.
 

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You want the first pic with the kids? Ride Sponner TH down to Jacks Valley, make it a half day affair, nice and flowy, it's my kid's favorite, nothing hard, just lots of beautiful trail, not a lot of users, and plenty of views of the Carson Valley. It's fourteen miles, but 90% downhill.

A fun, shorter trail that's more like picture two would be shuttling TRT Edgewood from above Stagecoach lift at Heavenley. It's two miles of flow and tech, all very visible and walkable, nothing scary, and plenty of fun.

Another option would be to take the kids and shuttle Armstrong, it's more like a mix of flow, pictures 1, 2, 3. You could start lower down and skip the tech.

At thirteen, with the skills to handle picture two, I think your son could handle Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Road, though there'd be a few places he'd walk, it's all very visible. My wife rides that trail and she is a beginner, it is her favorite and she is able to ride 90% of the trail. Tahoe Meadows is a shuttle, it's probably one of the most pisturesque rides in the Tahoe basin, views of Tahoe and of Washoe/Carson. I took a buddy on it the other day, first time, and he fell in love. It is a trail best done on a full suspension bike.
 

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Yeah so from the Spooner side the flume has nothing of the two last pics other than maybe the small waterfall area down from Marlette to the actual flume. From there its all flat, double track with the one section Mahngillig said where you walk the bike across a slide area. As everyone said, you do it for the scenery not for the ride itself, I have taken lots of different riders on that track (looping from Mt. Rose Meadows counter clockwise around Marlette and then down Tunnel Creek) as there are some challenging sections on the east side of Marlette. But outside of that it is not a "go to" ride.

Northstar will have all variety of trails and rentals and stuff there so you are in good hands if you have varying degrees of skill. Most everyone I know that rides there has a blast and we will be having the EWS coming in a few weeks to do another race there (think this is the second year now) so it is always fun to see the pros bomb those trails.

Something else that may be fun for the kids is to hit the Truckee Bike Park, small singletrack the loops around the bike park with all sorts of jumps, dual slalom, etc. inside the XC loop. Big Chief is the new trail that was just built out there and everyone seems to be raving about it, looks to be intermediate to advanced level depending on lines chosen. But lots of other "flatish" stuff out and about that will give you some fun rides and/or views of the lake.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, lots of good stuff. I'm going to try and find some info on few of those.
Looking for Tunnel Creek and Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel Road on the trail sites.
 

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The rock slide area on The Flume Trail had been repaired very nicely and is just regular trail now. However there is a new slide starting just a bit north of the old one that some may want to walk, especially if you have wide bars.

TRT from Tahoe Meadows (aka Mt. Rose) to Tunnel Creek (intersection with north end of Flume Trail) is one of the best sections of TRT. Use is heavy and the trail sure isn't as smooth as it used to be but still a lot of fun.

It's mostly downhill on TRT to Tunnel Creek so really shouldn't be a problem for most kids. Lots of nice spots to stop, regroup, eat, photos, etc. There are plenty of rocks to keep it interesting for everyone. Then Flume to Marlette out and back and down Tunnel Creek road to the bike shop area (aka Ponderosa).

I think most kids would hate the climb up from Spooner to Marlette. It gets steep and is horribly hot in the morning. If you're shuttling anyway, start from Tahoe Meadows instead of Spooner.
 

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NedwannaB
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Another choice is Mt Rose/Tahoe Meadows->drop upper Tyrolean->out Incline Flume (+/-6 miles)
->down Tunnel Creek rd back to Max's place. Or longer version do same start but do an out-n-back on IF(+/-5 miles turning around just where it drops down to TC rd)->pick up lower Tyrolean on way back(+/- 4 miles to intersection)then down into Diamond Peak village. It's an easy pedal along Lake Shore back to FTB. Cafe is closed during renovation now though.
 

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^^^ this.

A buddy came out to visit from Sedona with his family last week. He has two sons 12 and 10. I had planned a ride that would be fun for the boys. Incline Flume, up Tunnel Creek, Marlette Flume for about 2 miles or so then turn around and down Tunnel Creek to the bottom.

The boys bailed (couldn’t get them out of the lake). So my buddy and I went anyway. I modified the ride so we ended up going all the way to Marlette Lake then bombing down Chimney Beach. He couldn’t stop smiling after the ride.

For you I recommend Tyrolian DH, Chimney Beach. We also rode Mr Toads. I’d recommend doing that too but the climb is loooooong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Having trouble figuring out where these trails or trail references are. Since I'll only have my car, "Shuttle" is meant that I need to find a shuttle service. I was looking around on MTB Project and is the attached highlighted route the one you're referencing?

Blue Yellow White Atmosphere Red
 

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Another choice is Mt Rose/Tahoe Meadows->drop upper Tyrolean->out Incline Flume (+/-6 miles)
->down Tunnel Creek rd back to Max's place. Or longer version do same start but do an out-n-back on IF(+/-5 miles turning around just where it drops down to TC rd)->pick up lower Tyrolean on way back(+/- 4 miles to intersection)then down into Diamond Peak village. It's an easy pedal along Lake Shore back to FTB. Cafe is closed during renovation now though.
Incline Flume is a bruiser climb, not something I'd take kids unless they were XC racers.

Tyrolean, even the lower section, is pretty big and technical with shelves and boulders, kids would be overwhelmed if they don't routinely ride DH.

Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel is a doable ride for kids, just need to take it easy on the downs, no big features, a few "bitchy spots", otherwise totally rideable. I've taken teens down it and with plenty of steps and regrouping, fun was had by all.

I like technical climbs, but I'm finding that my buddies and family don't always share my love ... so less tech and more flow are sometimes nicer for group rides.

So much of riding is mental.
 

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Blue Yellow Red White Atmosphere


Jimf777, the trail to ride with your kids I was talking about is highlighted. Start at Incline Flume off Hwy 431 (green dot). Six miles of flat, easy, scenic trail to Tunnel Creek road. Climb up Tunnel Creek to Marlette Flume. Ride Marlette Flume to a vista point of your choosing (purple dot), take photos, turn around back to Tunnel Creek and ride it down to Incline Village (red dot). Have fun.
 

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NedwannaB
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Incline Flume is a bruiser climb, not something I'd take kids unless they were XC racers.

Tyrolean, even the lower section, is pretty big and technical with shelves and boulders, kids would be overwhelmed if they don't routinely ride DH.

Tahoe Meadows to Tunnel is a doable ride for kids, just need to take it easy on the downs, no big features, a few "bitchy spots", otherwise totally rideable. I've taken teens down it and with plenty of steps and regrouping, fun was had by all.

I like technical climbs, but I'm finding that my buddies and family don't always share my love ... so less tech and more flow are sometimes nicer for group rides.

So much of riding is mental.
Not sure we're talking about the same Flumes. InCline starts flat, stays flat, except for one short slide section after it passes thru Diamond Peak lift runs.
 
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