June 15, 2013
To get there, I would recommend turning into Oneidas and parking just outside of the gate to the National Forest. That way when you dump out of Toad's, your car is right there to the left.
Somebody mentioned earlier that they wished they could give this trail two ratings but didn't really elaborate on it so I wasn't sure what to expect.
Here's what to expect.
Trail 1: My husband and I decided to call this "Solitary Inclinement," since, no matter how many friends you have, you can get trapped in some crazy mind-games of self-pitying pain. From South Lake Tahoe, take Pioneer Trail, left on Oneidas, and park outside the gate. This becomes "Fountain Place Rd." as soon as you pass through the gate, (although it's never labeled as far as I could tell). You can either take this asphalt road all the way up to Armstrong Pass Trail (this is what we did as we knew the climb was going to be long) or, about two or three miles up you can take the Armstrong connector to avoid the road but possibly increase your overall suffering (idk, maybe it's easier?). Armstrong Pass Trail is a whole lot of uphill singletrack with some technical sections that I thought were really quite fun. Although it's only about 3 miles long, it feels longer, because by now, you've been climbing about seven, pretty much non-stop, nearly two miles above sea level. You'll come to a four-way intersection with Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) and you take a right. This is where Solitary Inclinement becomes Corporal Punishment. We talked about this point of the ride over and over again as "the breaking point." Just when you think you've had enough uphill, and it's about time to have even a few hundred feet of something flat, or maybe even some downhill, you get what you thought you wanted: in the "Boulders From Hell Rock Gardens Section". If I could give it a triple black diamond, I would. Just, just walk, and don't feel bad. Maybe an awesome rider could clear it on a good day, but after that much climbing, and with such severe dropoffs, you'll find yourself harried enough. It's a bit of a rude awakening from the "fun" techical sections of before. Once you're through this section, there's more uphill to come. All together, there's about ten and a half miles of uphill. I will admit that we did this at the beginning of the season, and we were not yet in "season," so we were totally pooped by the end, and VERY happy to finally find outselves at:
Ride 2: At some undefinable stretch of TRT, the trail finally starts to head downhill, and stays that way for the most part for the next ten or so miles. The first three or so miles of this is super super fun and super techincal in parts, but nothing that can't be cleared. Beautiful views, some rolling meadows, and lovely wildflowers. Ironically, this is the one place we wiped out. My husband tried to go over a three-foot tall snowbank (mid-June) and slid onto his ass. Pretty comic, we both laughed. Then you come to a branch in the trail and take a right onto some double black diamond called "Tucker Flat" as in flat on your face if you don't walk some of it. BIG boulders and dropoffs with sudden and sharp turns and nasty wheel-grabs. Some of them would have been doable if we had only shuttled up and come down fresh, provided you walk it down first to pick out your path. The ones you clear will have you feeling like a total boss, just keep your butt behind the seat on those two-foot-plus dropoffs and believe you can fly. Tucker Flat bleeds to the right into Saxon Creek Trail. I think this is the true beginning of "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" as it is HELLA fun, swoopy, bermy, and just clean, good riding. There are some stairways that are fun as well. Official Mr. Toads is virtually boulder and rock-free and you can take it at very high speeds as the turns are well-bermed and welcome after so much tricky technical stuff. After this, hang a right and ride a mile or so of doubletrack up to Fountain Place and left to your original stop.
We rode this on a Yeti ASR-5 Carbon and Ibis Mojo SL. My husband envied me on the uphills with my more vertical head tube angle (Ibis) and I was big-time hating on my husband with his slacker head tube angle on the descents. I don't know how or why you would possibly do this trail without full suspension. It is a dream on a good machine, and I woudn't recommend it if you're ill-equipped or out of shape AT ALL.
This ride's reputation is well-earned. The descent is so amazing you practically forget the pain of the ascent, or at least you're thankful for it since you're eating good food non-stop for the next three days.
Porcupine Rim (Moab)