Stanford Rock - Mountain Biking

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This intense uphill climb is well worth the effort thanks to the awesome 6 mile downhill ride and amazing views.

Written by

Jill Sanford


14.0 miles

The trail is 6 miles to Stanford Rock, and from there you can choose to head straight back down the way you came or continue on the loop to round out 14 total miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

7.9 miles


5 of 5 diamonds

This is a steep and technical ride that will be more enjoyable for advanced riders.

Time To Complete

3 hours

It's hard to say how long this will take the average rider, but expect to spend at least 3-4 hours on this route.


Spring, Summer, and Fall

There will likely be snow on the trail during colder months unless it is an extremely dry winter, so warmer times of the year are the most ideal for this ride.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Fees Permits




This challenging ride up to Stanford Rock tops out at 8,473 feet in elevation and is almost 14 miles round trip. The advanced route features amazing views and an awesome 6 mile descent, making the intense uphill slug well worth the effort.

What Makes It Great

This steep and technical climb offers one of a kind views of Lake Tahoe and a killer descent through pine trees and wildflowers during late spring and early summer. The intense climb starts just south of Ward Creek on Highway 89. Stay to the left when the trail branches off early into your climb at about a quarter of a mile in and again at a mile and a half. 

From here, it’s a steady uphill push and switchbacks for 5 straight miles. The climb will leave you aching for a breather and the constant views of Lake Tahoe throughout this section make for a good excuse to take a few breaks on the way up. Continue along the trail as it curves around the ridge and towards the west until you reach the top of Stanford Rock at 6.7 miles from the trailhead. 

From here, you can head back down the way you came or continue past the rock and descend on the Tahoe Rim Trail to complete the loop and end in Tahoe City.  

Who is Going to Love It

Serious, conditioned riders with good technique are going to love this trail. Intermediate riders will likely spend a lot of time on foot pushing their bikes over uneven terrain on both the uphill and the downhill portions.  Since it is such a tricky ride, it likely won’t be very crowded, but you might encounter a few hikers on the Tahoe Rim Trail portion. 

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Find the trailhead on the west side of Highway 89 about a half mile south of Sunnyside and three miles north of Homewood. You can park along the road (keep an eye out for signs that dictate exactly where you can do this) or at the county park on the other side of Ward Creek to the north. This mountain bike ride is on government land but it is close to residences, so be mindful and respectful of the neighbor’s property to ensure this space is always available to ride.

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