The Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway Ten Years After Original Proposal


A view of the Truckee River from the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. / Photo by Morgan Adamski
A view of the Truckee River from the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. / Photo by Morgan Adamski

Ten years ago, a local bike enthusiast proposed to the Reno and Tahoe bike community plans for a bike trail from the region’s Pyramid Lake to Lake Tahoe. There have been some challenges along the way, but it is steadily progressing. Now, 10 years later the path is 65 per cent finished, but still has a ways to go.

After a year of doing ground research for the possible trails from Pyramid Lake to Lake Tahoe, Janet Phillips presented a plan to build this extensive path.

“The Bikeway is a vision to create a trail along the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake, which is 116 miles. My professional background was in the water resources of the Truckee River, and I felt, through the years, that it was too bad that we have this beautiful river, and you can’t see it at less than 65 miles per hour, so wouldn’t it be great if we had a bike and hike trail,” says Phillips.

The trail will be both dirt and paved.

“In the urban area it’s paved in the rural area it’s dirt”

Once this plan was proposed at a public meeting, many people were very enthusiastic to see this vision come to life. With 200 supporters by the end of the year, it was off to a great start. By 2006 the bikeway became a non profit organization.

“About half of our money has come from government grants and federal government mostly, and then the other half has been from private donations.”

Now ten years later, as Phillips explains, the project is still moving along.

“We are about sixty five percent complete and our focus now is to go upstream from Verdi to Truckee,” Phillips said. “That’s where most of our enthusiasts, they want to go that way”

But she says there have been some setbacks along the way.

“On the California side, it’s mostly about money, because the canyon is narrow and so building a trail through there is going to be expensive,” Phillips said. “On the Nevada side to the east of Reno, the issues are more about property owners who don’t want the trail.”

Even with these challenges the project still continues forward.

“Our next step is, we currently have a contractor working on the next section past Fleisch Bridge, and depending on the weather I don’t know how far he will get before winter, but the idea is to really push hard to get to Floriston, which is about half way up the canyon. And I think, I cross my fingers, if all goes well we may get that done by a year from now,” Phillips said.

To get the trail all the way into Truckee is a very challenging section due to the terrain.

“To get all to Truckee is a really difficult spot. If you have seen the log house in the canyon as you drive through, near there, there is a really steep section of the canyon that is going to be very expensive to build there. I think we are going to need to raise about 2 million dollars.”

So unfortunately she says we still have some time until we see the completed trail, but local bicyclists are really excited. Wes Ajari is a Reno local, and started a bike delivery service 2 years ago.

Ajari also works in Truckee and says he would love if there was a bike friendly trail that connected the two towns.

“I work at Fifty Fifty, it’s a brewery up in Truckee. I think it’s going to be an amazing thing for our community, it will actually allow me to bike commute if I really wanted to go up to Truckee,” Ajari said.

Another bike enthusiast, Kurstin Graham, works at Reno Bike Project. Reno Bike Project is non profit community bicycle shop and advocacy group. Their goal is to create a cycling friendly community through advocacy, education, and cooperation in our region. Graham explains his experience on the pathway.

“I enjoy it, so from Verdi into Reno, I use that portion. I commute on in everyday, coming to work, so that’s nice. I always enjoy seeing the signs. And then I’ve been on parts of it from Wadsworth area out to Pyramid Lake, that’s a really fun adventure. And then also between Vista Blvd. at the end of Sparks to Fernley, and that area along the river, there are some neat paths through there that are apart of the network. It’s one of the bigger paths nationwide and to have that much riding off the roadway would be really exciting.”

A map displaying the entire path and the finished sections and future sections. / Courtesy of Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway website.
A map displaying the entire path and the
finished sections and future sections. / Courtesy of Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway website.

Graham also explains what this could mean for Reno and the bike community.

“People here will use it, and people will come here to use it. So that’s really exciting and I think if anything it has brought a lot of awareness to Pyramid Lake because I think there’s still a lot of people in the Reno area that haven’t gone out there to enjoy it.”

Phillips explains what she hopes the trail will be like once finished.

“I think it will be a two day ride for most people, because it’s too far for one day, for most riders. And so I could visualize starting at Tahoe on Saturday morning and riding to Reno, and it would be a hybrid bike that can go on dirt and pavement and then rest up and do the second half the next day.“

Phillips hopes she will be one of those people riding the finished trail.

“My goal to have it done while I can still ride a bike. So I think I still have another twenty years probably. The official planning schedule at the bike way is 10 more years, 10 down 10 to go.”

Phillips, as well as other cyclists, both young and old, believe this undertaking will be well worth the wait and the effort.