A few days a did the Heavenly Valley from Stagecoach to Armstrong Pass, it was a slaughter, but the downhill section from Freel Pass all the way down Armstrong was probably the best ride / section I have ever done.
I did not want to leave Lake Tahoe without enjoying this section one more time. However, there was no way I wanted to get slaughtered again on the Stagecoach to Freel Pass section, so I decided on a different route that was hopefully gonna be slightly, or even better a hell of a lot easier, but with the same fun factor…
Cold Creek to Star Lake to Armstrong Pass down Corral Trail.
Did I succeed?
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: South Lake Tahoe
Length: 21.01 total miles
Trail Type: Point to Point ( for loop add about 3 miles )
Skill Level: [ What the books say ] Aerobically: strenuous. Technical : difficult
Skill Level: [ My opinion ] Aerobically: strenuous. Technical : moderate
Duration: 4 – 6 hours [ my time ] 7.05 hours
Trailhead Elev: 6,500 feet
Top Elev: 9,500 feet
This is a self put together ride connecting various trails, below a short description of each individual trail :
- Cold Creek : The lower Cold Creek Trail is a popular and easily accessible ride out of South Lake Tahoe. It begins with a ride up the graded High Meadow Road. After less than 2 miles, the loop segment crosses Cold Creek and heads downstream on smooth,wellpacked singletrack. Real hammerheads can continue up the painfully steep climb to Star Lake. This ride makes a nice side trip off the Power Line Trail.
- Star Lake : Very steep and strenuous climb from High Meadow Road or Cold Creek Trail to Star Lake. Be prepared to walk a lot on this trail. Star lake is a beautiful place to rest and eat before heading up to Freel Pass
- Star Lake to Freel Pass : The climb continues, however it’s not as bad as the previous grunt and it’s more scenic, it should take between 40 – 60 min. to reach Freel Pass
- Freel Pass to Armstrong Pass and down the Armstrong Connector Trail : Spend 15 min. at Freel Pass, enjoy the superb scenery, test your brakes, and make sure you don’t have any loose parts on your steed. The coming 1.5 hours is gonna be one of the best rides imaginable. Do not admire the scenery, just keep your eyes on the trail. The “Connector” is 100% fun with very little margin for error, short section but unique… very unique.
- Corral Trail : This trail is a FFF Trail “Fun” Fast” and “Furious”… this is a trail gives you the feeling that you are the main character in an out of control video game… Not to be missed
Well to honest, from Cold Creek to Freel Pass was just as brutal as the Heavenly Valley Stagecoach to Freel Pass section was. The ride to Star Lake is very steep and physically extremely demanding, and I kept telling myself that it would be worth it. I spent 45 min. at Star Lake relaxing and stuffing myself with fluids and energy nibbles. From the Lake to Freel Pass it’s about another hour slog, the first section is pretty easy going, but the second section is strenuous.
Once at Freel Pass, you can rest assure that the real fun is about to start. 100% fun filled adrenalin rush that will last between 1.5 – 2 hours… that’s if you manage to stay on your steed. From Freel Pass all the way to the finishing point could well be the best ride in the USA.
For the real “Gear Grinders” among us, at the Armstrong Pass, you can continue on the TRT and head down Saxon Creek and Mr Toads Wild Ride.. Let’s put it this way, once you are at Freel Pass, no matter which way you choose, it’s gonna be a 10/10 ride.
Mountain Biking just doesn’t get better than this, the nice thing about this is that no matter how you approach it, you will have to work HARD for the reward, but the reward will make you forget everything… If there is any such thing as a “Natural High” then this is the place to be.
Traffic on Trail : 2 mountain bikers 1 hiker
Wild Life : Coyote and a (dead?) snake
Scenery : excellent scenery
Other : Take extra water, and energy nibbles. Be sensible, a trail is only fun if you make it to the end in one piece. This is definitely not a trail for novices
My Trail Rating : 10 / 10 with a Gold Star