One of the best places for road running in North Tahoe isn’t a road at all –it’s the Truckee River Trail. The Truckee River Trail is an 8 mile paved multipurpose path nestled between Highway 89 and the Truckee River.
In Tahoe City, the Truckee River exits Lake Tahoe and flows north toward Truckee. For eight miles the Truckee River Trail parallels the river’s ebbs and flows. Towering rock, tall pines, lush vegetation, and the rush of the river itself make this popular trail a memorable spot for a paved run.
What Makes It Great
While the Truckee River Trail runs along busy Highway 89, the trail itself, like the river, sits below the surface of the highway. The slight differences in elevation create a radically different feel and experience than running along a busy street –vehicles are heard, but not seen or felt. What is seen and felt is the intimate beauty of the river corridor.
The Truckee River Trail begins on the west end of Tahoe City, and ends at the mouth of Squaw Valley. For the most part flat, the trail matches the grade of the river. An out and back from Tahoe City would thus have a slight incline on the return as one runs upstream. The run is at its best during a summer morning or evening when cooler temperatures prevail, opportunities for solitude abound, and the slanted sunlight makes the aspen, cottonwood, willow, and gooseberry leaves lining the water glow green.
The trail is very popular in the middle of the summer, which coincides with the best time to float and swim in the river. This is a multipurpose trail, so watch for cyclists, strollers, skateboarders, and sunscreen slathered swimmers looking for the best place to launch their inner tubes.
Who is Going to Love It
Those looking for an alternative to the small-shouldered Tahoe Area road system will love this run. Beginner runners will as well, due to the easy grade and shade along the path. The run can be done as a 16-mile out-and back, or as an 8-mile shuttle.
Nature lovers of all ability should love this run too. Watch for mergansers riding the riffles and king fishers darting above the pool. Wildflowers dot the trail from June through mid-July including purple lupine and red columbine. And for the history buffs out there: portions of the Truckee River Trail follow the same line as the original narrow gauge railroad that brought early tourists to Lake Tahoe.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is free in Tahoe City, but space is limited, especially in summer. A better option is to park at 64 Acre Park a quarter mile south of Tahoe City on Highway 89. 64 Acre park has a large parking lot for visitors and parking is free. A bike path winds through the 64 Acre Park and crosses the Truckee River on a small bridge to meet up with the Truckee River Trail.