Northstar Ski Area (northern Lake Tahoe)

OTE Ratings: O7/T6-8/E4-7
Distance: variable (there are many miles of trails to choose from)
Time: variable (but the lift lines can be long)


The Northstar Ski Area is open to mountain biking daily from mid-June to Labor Day, and weekends-only thereafter until early October (weather permitting). (Their phone number is (916) 562-1010.) Two of the chair lifts - "Echo" and "Lookout" - run during the summer months, and will take you and your bike from the base village (~6350') up to the ~7750' level. As of summer 1994, an all-day lift pass costs $17 (adult) and $13 (child). Once at the top of the lifts, you have a lot of trails to choose from: There's some fun single-track (including the very technical "Woods training course"), a short slalom course, and (mostly) lots of scenic (but bumpy) fire roads. On the fire roads you have the option of doing some climbing (up to the "Mt. Pluto" summit at 8610'), doing some leisurely (and mostly flat) scenic riding around the mountain (including to a nearby small lake), or just riding back down the hill.

Directions to the start

Northstar is located just off CA state highway 267, halfway between Truckee (I-80) and Kings Beach (Lake Tahoe north shore).

Some of the things I liked

Some of the things I didn't like

Paul Spencer ( adds (2000.09.08): [I] noticed your page is way out of date.

First - and foremost - Northstar has been actively building more singletrack trails. There are now quite a few advanced-level ones, like Competition, and some serious runs for downhillers, like Karpiel. So there's even more variety than before, and enough singletrack that to cover it all in one day would keep you busy. (The online map is quite good; unfortunately the paper map they give you up there sucks).

Second, of course, the prices have gone up; one ride (which isn't enough for most anyone reading your pages) is $16, a normal unlimited day pass is $23. If you stay at a Northstar condo, you get a free pass (but only if you ask!). It's worth noting that the first day of the season is free, and the last day is very cheap.

As to crowds, I've seldom seen it crowded (except on the free opening day); but then I usually go during the week. On at least one day I've been the only real rider (as opposed to families with kids) out there.


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