This ride is classed as strenuous but is nothing like Mr Toad’s. That said there is around 1500 ft of climbing most of it up Andesite Ridge at the start of the trail. The majority of the riding is on singletrack leading you through big granite outcrops and twisty singletrack through the woods with great technical sections. There are loads of opportunities to do the “big kid” routine over granite slabs (shades of Moab on a small scale!). HITG is 17 miles of pure fun and a must for anyone in the Tahoe area. The trailhead can be a bit tricky to locate but following the guidance here you won’t make the same mistake we did and have to ride an extra 4 miles on the road!!
Again as for Mr Toad’s the best map for the area is “The Tahoe Basin Trail Map” for $9.99. There is a little section on the top left of the North Tahoe Lake side of the map entitled “Donner Summit” devoted to HITG.
1. The loop is done in an anticlockwise direction and I suggest parking the car at the trail end at the Soda Springs Ramp on the westward bound I 80.
2. Ride back along the road parallel to the I 80 and turn left back over the I 80. Continue for about 1.75 - 2 miles on this road. At the signs for The Snow Lab turn left onto the double track dirt road. (this was where we went wrong!).
3. Continue to climb up this for about 1.5 miles and you come out into a tarmaced area with a restaurant in the far right hand corner. Carry on and then turn left on the bridge back over the I 80. The road sweeps round and the runs out. The trail starts.
4. A number of spurs lead off the main trail. Keep left and climbing. Eventually you will see the trailhead with the HITG sign on your left.
5. Take the track and continues to climb on singletrack up to Andesite peak. There are great views across to Castle Peak on the right.
6. From now on it is pretty well a no brainer. There are signposts along the way so just keep and eye on the map and look for the signs. You cross the odd river bed which can be confusing but the bike tracks give away the correct route.
7. Towards the end is a very conveniently placed lake (Lower Lola Montez) well worth a 400 yd detour and a dip!!
8. The trail drops down and then picks up a double track which climbs. Watch for the signs for the left turn back onto single track. This happens again and the final descent is down some stairs to the trailend and the car.
Take the I 80 west from Truckee to the Soda Springs ramp. Take an immediate right off the ramp and come back on yourself. The trail end is about 300 yds on the left. You will see the signs for Lower Lola Montez Lake. Park on the roadside here.
When to Bike
This is at altitude so winter in a no no. This limits you to late spring, summer and early autumn. Take plenty of water and a swimming costume unless you don’t mind skinny dipping!