Offering spectacular views and challenging climbs, Lake Tahoe is an ideal cycling location, except for one thing.
The Lake Tahoe Basin does not feature a continuous bicycle trail around the lake, and cyclists must share a sometimes narrow and sinuous road with vehicles.
Regional officials continue to address a continuous network of bicycle trails incrementally, attempting to build an interlocking system one mile at a time.
During a recent Truckee-North Tahoe Transportation Management Association meeting, Peter Kraatz, deputy director of Placer County's Public Works Department, unveiled preliminary plans to construct approximately two and a half miles of a class-one bicycle trail beginning at Dollar Hill and concluding at Cedar Flat. The stretch is merely one segment of the larger eight-mile North Tahoe Bicycle Trail, planned to run from Dollar Hill all the way to Kings Beach.
"Serious cyclists want a bike trail that connects the North Shore, Truckee and the West Shore and would prefer to enjoy a trail that is disconnected from the highway system," Kraatz said.
Kraatz said plans for the eight-mile stretch have been existent for several years but impediments have thwarted efforts to begin the permitting and construction process.
Among challenges, parts of the trail would traverse through private land; the Northern Goshawk - a native bird of prey - retains nesting sites in proximity to the proposed trail; and it would necessitate a triple environmental assessment conducted by Placer County, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the U.S. Forest Service, respectively. In order to mitigate those challenges, Kraatz recommended addressing the trail in segments; thus, beginning with the 2.5 mile stretch in Dollar Hill/Cedar Flat, a phase that would require a permitting review and environmental analysis by TRPA and Placer County, Kraatz said.
The trail will cross land owned by the North Tahoe Public Utility District and the California Tahoe Conservancy.
Kraatz said while the proposed trail fails to link Tahoe City to Kings Beach, the 2.5-mile segment does conclude at a trail nexus in Cedar Flat, which hook up to mountain biking trails that, in turn, supply a link to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
While it is too early to provide an accurate cost figure for the project, Kraatz said TRPA provides general cost guidelines that indicate a bike trail typically cost $1-2 million per mile when factoring in land acquisition, permitting and construction costs.
Kraatz said the county will begin the environmental permit process this summer, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2013.