Explore Tahoe: After 40 years, West Shore Bike Trail finally complete
November 14, 2016
TAHOE CITY — The recently completed section of the West Shore Bike Trail through Homewood is less than a mile in length, and much of the route follows existing, lightly used neighborhood roads.
But its impact on the future of biking opportunities along Tahoe's West Shore is much bigger than the length of the trail.
"The West Shore bike path has always been a problem; now that is all changing," said Peter Underwood, owner of Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City. "Everyone wants to ride along the lake, on a designated bike path — now they can safely get to the beaches and Sugar Pine Point State Park."
When the West Shore Bike Trail was built in the 1970s, getting riders off the road on the section north of Homewood was always part of the plan. But the narrow road section between Cherry Street and Homewood Mountain Resort was never completed until now.
Instead, for all those years, "it has been referred to as the Missing Link or Homewood Hole," said Kurt Althof, Grants and Community Information Administrator for the Tahoe City Public Utility District. "It was very dangerous from a safety standpoint. It's been a struggle getting it built. We didn't give up and are thrilled to finally complete it."
With no bike trail, riders had to stay on the road, and there was no shoulder. To make matters worse, in many areas just off the pavement were ruts and chewed-up pavement, which were a real hazard for bikers.
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'A POPULAR THOROUGHFARE'
The new trail passes right in front of the house that Michael Buss has lived in for over 40 years.
"I was always for building the trail. There was too much of a chance that the kids riding along on that section of highway were going to get hit," Buss said, adding that since construction has been completed, he's seen people riding it and walking it every day. "It has already become a popular thoroughfare."
Now with a safer route, riders can plan to take the full 10-mile trip from Tahoe City to Sugar Pine Point on a designed bike trail (as well as some quiet neighborhood streets).
Currently, the trail stops at the southern edge of Sugar Pine Point State Park, but plans are underway to complete the trail to the beautiful beaches at Meeks Bay, which will be an asset to both the riders and to the Washoe Tribe, which operates the Meeks Bay Beach concession.
Althof said that the nearby Truckee River Bike Trail — which offers a beautiful, meandering pedal for all ability levels along the river between Tahoe City and Alpine Meadows — is "hands down the most utilized resource we manage."
Meanwhile, Underwood said the West Shore Bike Trail "will give visitors an alternative to the Truckee River Bike Path."
Hopefully, this new trail will not only give riders more options, but will also reduce the congestion on the busy route along the river.
THE NEW ROUTE
One of the issues with the West Shore Bike Trail is that it requires riders to frequently cross the often-busy West Lake Boulevard (Highway 89).
The good news with the new section is that once southbound riders cross the highway at Fleur Du Lac, they stay on the right side of the road for the next four plus miles passing Homewood, Tahoma and through most of Sugar Pine Point State Park before crossing the road again just a 1/2 mile before the trail ends.
The new trail first parallels Highway 89, then after crossing Madden Creek on a new bike bridge, dips away from the highway and into the dense forest next to Trout Street.
In a short distance, the trail merges with Sans Souci Terrace which becomes the route heading south. It is a pleasant, level ride passing scattered older cabins before meeting Silver Street, where the bike trail passes through the Homewood Resort parking lot.
At the southwestern edge of the parking lot, the route crosses Fawn Street, and meets the previously existing trail which follows another section of Sans Souci Terrace to Tahoe Ski Bowl Way.
In addition to the Tahoe City Public Utility District, which will maintain the trail, the Homewood trail construction was sponsored by the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, Placer County, California Tahoe Conservancy, California Natural Resources, Placer County Parks and Tahoe Fund.
Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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