After a Rescission, E-Bikes are Once Again Allowed on 35 Miles of Tahoe Nat’l Forest Trails

Photo courtesy of Tahoe National Forest

With the approval of the East Zone Connectivity Project in the Tahoe National Forest (TNF), class 1 e-bikes are again allowed on some of the district’s existing non-motorized trails. This comes after e-bikes were informally authorized on TNF trails in 2019, and the Forest Service was later sued that year by a group of equestrians. In 2020, the TNF rescinded its decision after the lawsuit and class 1 e-bike use was again restricted to motorized trails only.

Now though with the approval of the East Zone Connectivity Project, the NTF will have 70 miles of newly constructed singletrack for motorcycles, which will connect the TNF to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and the community of Verdi, Nevada. Forty-one miles of user-created OHV trail through sensitive areas will be restored, and 35-miles of existing non-motorized trail will be open to class 1 e-bikes.

Those trails include the Sawtooth Trail, the Jackass Ridge trail system, the Emigrant Trail, and the Big Chief Trail.

“From the historic paths of the Washoe, the Emigrant Trail and the Transcontinental Railroad,” said Jonathan Cook-Fisher, Truckee District Ranger, “to the more recent additions of Interstate 80 and the Airport District, the Truckee area has often found itself at the center of a trail and transportation network. We hope that the opportunities afforded by the East Zone Connectivity Project, along with other regional trail projects, honors this history. Our community continues to provide an excellent example of collaborative planning and recreation access that others can emulate.”

This doesn’t mean that the TNF won’t be sued again. Fisher told Singletracks over email that “as a general matter, all decisions *may* be challenged. However, the two objections we received were withdrawn and this decision went through the formal environmental analysis process and is considered final.”

In addition to class 1 e-bike access on non-motorized trails in the TNF, the Town of Truckee allows all three classes of e-bikes on their 22-miles of bike path around town. It appears that Truckee is eager to excite visitation to the area with e-bike use.

“E-Bike rentals are also readily available at Truckee sports shops and have become very popular,” said Colleen Dalton, CEO of Visit Truckee-Tahoe in a separate press release.

Trail work on the new moto trails will start this summer and completion will depend on funding, but they anticipate it will take several years. The TNF has submitted a variety of projects for Great American Outdoors Act funding, to address campground and facility needs, and improve signage and trailheads. These improvements should be noticeable in 2022.

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