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More Trails
The Bench
Big Meadow to Kingsbury
Corral Loop
Flume Trail
Mr Toads
Christmas Valley

Trails at a Glance

Xmas Valley Downhill

Length (loop) - 8 miles (6 shuttle)

Elevation change - 1,500'

Difficulty - Intermediate to expert

Other Users - Hikers, Horses on Rim Trail


Scott's Lake Spur

Length (loop) - 3.5 miles

Elevation change - 400'

Difficulty - Intermediate

Other Users - Hikers, Horses on Rim Trail

Round Lake Spur

Length (loop) - 1 mile

Elevation Change - NA

Difficulty - Easy

Other Users - Hikers, Horses on Rim Trail

Dardanelles Lake Spur

Length (loop) - 2 miles

Elevation Change - 300'

Difficulty - Difficult

Other Users - Hikers, Horses on Rim Trail

Big Meadow Out n' Back

Length (loop) - 4 miles

Elevation Change - 800'

Difficulty - Intermediate to Difficult

Other Users - Hikers, Horses on Rim Trail


The bottom of the trail head is on South Upper Truckee Road where it crosses the Upper Truckee River. Coming from South Lake Tahoe on Hwy 50 turn left onto Hwy 89 just after the bug station (agricultural checkpoint). After a bit over 2 miles turn left onto Portal Road. Turn left onto South Upper Truckee and stay on it until you cross the river. After dropping a car, continue on South Upper Truckke until it meets Highway 89. Turn right. Big Meadow Trail head parking is on the left after about 1 mile. There is parking on the road directly across the street from the Trail head and additional parking in the lot with entrance being several hundred yards up the road.

Nearby Bike Shops

Wattabike - Next to Roadrunner Gas Station in Meyers

Book a shuttle to Big Meadow Trailhead with Wanna Ride Tahoe.

About Lake Tahoe - Biking - Christmas Valley Downhill

Christmas Valley Downhill and Big Meadow Trails

The Big Meadow side of Luther Pass holds a number of fun rides that can be combined in a number of ways. The mainline of the drainage is the Christmas Valley Downhill, itself is a fun technical ride with lots of up and down transitions in the main downhill. There are several spurs off of the main downhill which are worthy for a number of reasons. These include the Scott's Lake spur, the Dardanelles Lake spur, and continuing on the Rim Trail to Round Lake. Riding any of these back to the Big Meadow Trail head rather than the Xmas Valley Downhill is a fun, technical option. Below are some brief trail descriptions.

Trail Map

Lower parking to Big Meadow Trail head
This is 2 miles of easy uphill on good paved roads with very little to no traffic. You can by pass this section via car shuttle on Highway 89.

Big Meadow Trail head to Big Meadow
This is about 1/3 mile of technical riding or hike a bike. The first 200 yards after crossing the road heading up are the hardest. At the end of this section, you can either go left to Scott's lake or straight ahead across Big Meadow towards Round Lake, Meiss Meadows (no bikes), Dardanelles Lake and the Christmas Valley Downhill.

Big Meadow to Christmas Valley cut off
This is an easy to intermediate 1.25 mile uphill with one stair section about 2/3 of the way through. If you're just going out and back to the trail head you'll want to turn around at the flat section before downhill traverses. Otherwise, continue on the Rim Trail to the Christmas Valley Downhill cutoff. Here, you can continue on about a half mile to Round Lake (and further until you reach the PCT). A sharp right takes you to the Christmas Valley Downhill.

Christmas Valley Downhill
The trail starts off fast and flowy. After only a few hundred yards you will come to a left turn which takes you to Dardanelles Lake. Most of the trail is now pretty smooth, but there are some technical, boulder strewn sections. These are not particularly steep. In fact, they are often followed by short uphill rocky sections. The downhill follows a small spring fed creek that eventually merges with the Upper Truckee River.

Scott's Lake Spur
The Scott's Lake spur starts off as a gentle uphill rising from Big Meadow. There are several small hike a bike sections, but mostly smooth uphill through lots of Aspen groves. Going downhill, it's fast and flowy with the exception of the few fun technical sections. Riding down from Scott's to Big Meadow trail head is a great, albeit rather short, downhill.

Dardanelles Lake Spur
This is my favorite addition to the Christmas Valley Downhill. It has fun stream crossings, technical sections, flowy sections, and a beautiful lake at the end. Heading to the far right hand side of the lake will net you some smooth granite to ride on as well as places to jump in the lake.

Click on the images below to enter the gallery.

Big Meadow Trailhead is located right on Highway 89. Approaching Big Meadow, the fall colors are in effect here. Riding through Aspen groves on the way to Scott's Lake. Mature Aspen in fall colors on the way to Scott's Lake. Wooly Bear caterpillars used to have the distinction of being able to predict the winter by the width of their orange band. More fall colors. this time on the Christmas Valley Downhill. Much of the downhill looks like this. Part of the downhill section heads through this section of forest that burned after a plane crash in August of 2002. This little smooth rock section is a little diversion from the trail that is more popular than the trail. See, I told you it was popular. Earlier in the season, riding against the grain on the Christmas Valley Uphill. Clearing the top and heading downhill toward Big Meadow. The stair section above Big Meadow. Trail Map of the Christmas Valley Downhill and other mountain bike trails in the Big Meadow area. You don't often see much more than yellow when leaf peeping in Tahoe. Here is some rare red, hidden in a small spring fed stream just off South Upper Truckee Road.

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Last Updated July 6, 2009