Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (South Lake Tahoe)

OTE Ratings: O9/T9/E9
Distance: 21 miles
Time: 8 hours
Climbing: >3000 feet
USGS 7.5' topo: Freel Peak, CA


This describes a great, long loop ride which includes a descent of Mr Toad's. A big climb, big rewards. Wonderful views to the south from the Tahoe Rim Trail. Beautiful ride mostly in sparse forest. Very technically challenging descent.

Directions to the start

Near Meyers, south of South Lake Tahoe, Pioneer Trail goes east off of California Highway 89. Take Pioneer to Oneidas, turn right. Park at the "Power Line Trail" sign. Or nearby.

The ride

Ride on up Oneidas (paved). It becomes Fountain Place Road (it's paved but gets little car traffic). (An off-road alternate start would have you take Power Line trail to Corral Trail, then climb Corral up to meet Fountain Place Road.) Either way, you keep on climbing up Fountain Place Road, past the old Fountain Place (named after a Fountain family, not for any spring or resort-thing), where the road becomes dirt and there is a gate.

The trail then forks twice, then reaches a large meadow. This part of the trail is somewhat confusing. Mike deMicco provides the following details: "There are 2 forks between the gate and the meadow. At the first fork, go left (up the hill). At the second, take the right (or middle, if it is a 3-way fork; I can't remember exactly)." More recently, Ryan Weibel adds an alternative(?) description: "When you get to the top of Fountain Place there is a gate crossing the road. At this point there is a trail on the rightwhich is how the Forest Service wants people to use to get to Armstrong Pass. The trail forks shortly after beginning, the right takes you through the river and the left takes you to a log crossing they then merge back together. As for climbing up the Corral trail I dont recomend it due to the heavy use by downhillers who tend to be going at very high speeds."

After crossing the meadow, keep climbing up the trail, past some pretty clearings, to Armstrong pass. Here, at ~8400 feet or so, we hit the Tahoe Rim trail. Turn right (westish) along the TRT and then climb to the ridge. This takes you past some of the most awesome vistas I've ever seen. (Maybe it was lack of Oxygen, as this part of the trail is up near 9400 feet.) On clear days, you can see south past Carson Pass (hwy 88), at least as far as the stuff around Ebbets/Pacific Grade passes (hwy 4). Possibly even some of the peaks just north of Yosemite. Clear, great views of the nearby Hope Valley. Beautiful meadows full of wildflowers up there.

Anyway, the trail then levels off and comes to a great Tahoe viewpoint, another amazingly flower-filled meadow (Freel Meadows), and then it drops you onto the top of Mister Toad's Wild Ride. Plenty of technical challenge here! And plenty of places where it's sensible to get off the bike and walk past this or that obstacle. Mr Toad's drops you, with a few little climbs along the way, back down to the junction of Oneidas and Power Line.

This ride is about 21 miles, but has well over 3000' of climbing; all three of us ran out of water before the end, and we each had three large bike bottles. Next time, I'll bring the Camelback plus two large bottles.

©1995-2015 Doug Landauer

The "normal" Mr Toad's route is an alternate, somewhat shorter and somewhat lower version of this ride. To do that, you ride up highway 89 from Meyers, to the "Big Meadow" Tahoe Rim Trail trailhead (N 38.790647°, W 119.99989°). (Ross Finlayson provides the following description:) The trail climbs steeply, gaining more than 1000 feet, until it reaches almost the 9,000 foot level. Rocks and water bars cross the trail frequently, so be prepared to stop often. (You will probably want to do so anyway because of the altitude!) Shortly after passing the high point of the trail, you will reach a "Y" junction. The left branch is the Saxon Creek Trail (aka. "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"), which (as Doug notes) begins with some very challenging terrain. The right branch is the continuation of the Tahoe Rim Trail. This is the route that Doug took (in the reverse direction) to get to "Mr. Toad's" proper.


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©1995-2015 Ross Finlayson