E-bikes on Trails in Lake Tahoe
The USFS LTBMU has released its Basin Wide Trails Analysis project document, which includes a proposal to allow Class 1 e-bikes on specific trails.
Scroll down to Lake Tahoe Basin Trails for more information.
E-bikes have increased in popularity and are becoming more common on motorized and non-motorized trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The following information represents the most current rules and regulations created by the land managers in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
About 80% of the land in the Lake Tahoe Basin is managed by the Forest Service. Other public landowners include Nevada State Parks and California State Parks. TAMBA doesn’t own any land.
On August 29th 2019, the Department of the Interior made a determination that e-bikes will be allowed on lands managed by the department where other types of bicycles are allowed. The Department of the Interior manages BLM land and National Parks. USFS land is managed by the Department of Agriculture, so this determination does not apply to lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
U.S. Forest Service
Under the Forest Service’s Travel Management Rule (§212.1) e-bikes are classified as motor vehicles.
This means that e-bikes are only allowed on trails that are open to motor vehicles within the Lake Tahoe Basin.
View the 2017 USFS Briefing Paper [PDF] on e-bikes.
Lake Tahoe Basin Trails
The LTBMU, the Forest Service agency that manages the land within the Lake Tahoe Basin, released its Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project Proposal in February of 2021. You can view the PDF here: Scoping Period Maps Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project PDF. This project includes not only trails designated for e-bikes but also includes new trail construction and trails to be decommissioned in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Although the public comment period closed March 28th, 2021, you can find the Forest Service contact information by clicking on Comment/Object on Project in the right column.
Currently, e-bikes are only allowed on trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin that allow motorized vehicles. E-bikes are not allowed on the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) with the exception of the TRT in Lake Tahoe Nevada State Parks. You can view the TRTA webpage on emerging technologies for more information on the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Tahoe National Forest Trails
The Tahoe National Forest (TNF) manages lands on the west side of Lake Tahoe, just outside of the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Tahoe National Forest removed a July 2019 statement from their website that allowed Class 1 e-bikes on many non-motorized trails but the TNF finalized their environmental analysis for the East Zone Connectivity project and decided to allow Class-1, pedal-assist e-bikes on 35 miles of National Forest System trails in the TNF. The trails open to e-bikes include Commemorative Overland Emigrant trail, the Sawtooth trail, the Big Chief trail, and the Donkey Town (AKA Jackass) trail. For more information, visit the Tahoe National Forest e-bike webpage or download the Truckee Ranger District e-bike map.
California State Parks
Although some California State Parks do allow class 1 and class 2 e-bikes on trails, e-bikes are not allowed on the Ocelot Trail near Tahoe City.
The State of California classifies e-bikes as follows:
Class 1 eBike
A Class 1 eBike is a low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle, is equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 mph.
Class 2 eBike
Class 2 eBikes are low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycles that are equipped with motors that can exclusively propel the bicycle, but that cannot provide assistance when the bike reaches 20 mph.
Class 3 eBike
Class 3 eBikes are speed pedal-assisted electric bicycles that are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops providing assistance when the bicycle reaches 28 mph.
You can view California law AB-1096 Vehicles: electric bicycles.
Nevada State Parks
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park does allow e-bikes on trails intended for use by bikes. This means that e-bikes are allowed on the Flume Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) between Hobart Road and the park boundary north of Tunnel Creek Road. E-bikes are not allowed on the TRT from Mount Rose to Tunnel Creek or on Chimney Beach trail because these trails are on USFS land designated for non-motorized use.
Nevada does not define electric bicycles by class. Nevada defines e-bikes as “electric-assisted bicycles, so long as the e-bike’s motor is under 750w, has a maximum speed of 20mph, and has operable pedals.” Class 1 and 2 e-bikes fall under this definition and are allowed on multi-use paths and bike lanes where bicycles are also permitted.
Class 3 e-bikes don’t meet Nevada’s definition of an “electric-assisted bicycle” since the maximum speed is 28 mph Class 3 e-bikes are defined as a moped in Nevada, which is “a motor-driven scooter, motor-driven cycle or similar vehicle that is propelled by a small engine which produces not more than 2 gross brake horsepower, has a displacement of not more than 50 cubic centimeters or produces not more than 1500 watts final output, and is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than 1 percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged” (NRS 482.069).
E-bike Friendly Lake Tahoe Basin Trails
Trails open to e-bikes in the Lake Tahoe Basin include:
- Upper Corral
- Lower Corral
- Incense Cedar
- High Meadow OHV
- Beaver Tail Trail
- Flume Trail
- Tahoe Rim Trail (Hobart Rd to Tunnel Creek Rd only)
- All fire roads that allow motorized vehicles.
- Sand Pit 12N28
Trails open to e-bikes in Truckee include:
- Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail
- Sawtooth Trail
- Big Chief Trail
- Donkey Town Trail
- All OHV trails and fire roads that allow motorized vehicles
Check out the LTBMU OHV Trail Riding Webpage.
Check out the USFS map showing the roads and trails currently accessible to e-bikes in the North Lake Tahoe area.
Check out the USFS map showing the roads and trails currently accessible to e-bikes in the South Lake Tahoe area.
Check out the USFS map showing the trails currently accessible to e-bikes in the Truckee area.
Trailforks has an e-bike filter on their app, and on their webpage, you can scroll down under Trail Details and look for E-Bikes Allowed.
TAMBA does not have a position on e-bikes and urges all mountain bikers to only ride e-bikes on trails open to e-bikes. Illegal riding and removal of no-e-bike stickers on trail signs jeopardize our relationship with the USFS and access to future trails. If you want to see more trails open to e-bikes, we encourage you to lobby through the proper channels.
Last updated 6/30/21