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Late summer rides

Labor Day weekend means a lot of people in the mountains. After it has come and gone, all of the schools in the area will back in session. This is a time of year when things in the great outdoors really do slow down.

Tahoe rides
Photo courtesy of J. Ferris

While the bike rides in the Apple Hill area are coming to a halt, everything else is opening up. There's plenty to do with your bike, here and up in Tahoe.

It's the shoulder season in Tahoe, and on the west slope too. There are fewer people coming up the hill, as school takes up a substantial amount of time throughout the week and over the weekends.

What that means is that there aren't as many people out on the trails, in the campgrounds, or on the lakes. As we get closer to Autumn, the outdoors quiets even more.

Here are some great places to enjoy riding your bike from now till the snow falls.

The wonderful trail in Placerville consists of both sections of the El Dorado Trail. The western section starts off of Forni Road and runs over to Missouri Flat Road. It's either an out and back, or if you know how to do it, you can loop back on 49 to Big Cut. Check with the guys at Placerville Bike Shop about that route.

The eastern section of the trail starts at Clay Street and runs all the way to the Highway 50 fence at Camino, along the old railroad bed. The last section of this trail is unpaved and mountain bikes are best on this part. It's a great out and back ride.

Mountain bikes will love the trails around Sly Park Lake, Fleming Meadows, and Ferrari Mill Road. Great complex of trails, some technical skills needed on some of them, but mostly OK for most riders.

Road bike riders who are in leg testing and stamina testing mode can simply ride up Iron Mountain/Mormon Emigrant Trail, either to the end at Highway 88 or whenever you legs tell you to turn back.

Going up to the bike trail at Union Valley at this time of year is a real treat. The start is at the Fushoda campground and this gentle ride is just plain fun.

Riding in Tahoe at this time of year means there will be far fewer people on the bike trails, and the aspens start their slow dance into color, making it even better.

The best thing to do is to stop at Watta Bike in Meyers to check out how the mountain bike trails are doing if you are on your mountain bike. Go into South Shore and stop at South Shore Bikes to get maps and advice about the many paved riding paths up there. There's over 7 miles of paved bike paths, and it does take a map to understand where to ride.

The path that goes from 15th Street and heads east to Spring Creek Tract is wonderful. Take the time to ride into Pope and Baldwin Beaches, down to the Visitors Center, or to Fallen Leaf Lake. There will be some traffic on the Fallen Leaf road, but it's not much right now. Take advantage of the lack of cars and enjoy this very beautiful ride.

You can drive east on Highway 89/Emerald Bay Road to Sugar Pine Point. There is a paved trail here, with a short bit of neighborhood roads thrown in, that will take you all the way to Squaw Valley.

There are several spots to access this trail. If you want a shorter ride, you'll start at the Tahoe City Transit parking area. Whether you start here, or do the long ride from Sugar Pine, the scenery along the way is stunning. Stop in at the Olympic Bike Shop in Tahoe City for advice about riding around there.

There are more trails, including the American River Bike Trail in Folsom and Sacramento. These trails also see far fewer people at this time of year.

Take your time riding these trails, whether you are on dirt or pavement. Enjoy the slow slide into Autumn, and then the full burst of color when Autumn is in full bloom. The light changes, the colors change, so listen and look while you're spinning those pedals.