Finding Lake Tahoe’s Secret Incline Flume Trail

posted by Sharon July 14, 2019 17 Comments
Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

Don’t you love it when you discover something in your travels that’s generally known only to locals? We enjoyed that experience during our latest trip to Lake Tahoe. For years, I’ve been collecting information about the Flume Trail in north Tahoe. Today, it’s a well known hiking and biking trail high above the east side of the lake. It’s named after the flume and tramway system built here in the 1870s. Lumber needs of the miners on the other side of the Nevada mountain grew when silver and gold were discovered. Sawmills were built along Lake Tahoe and trees were felled. An elaborate wooden trough system carried the wood from the lakeshore over the mountain. Here’s a photo showing the flume, and a drawing showing the crazy adventures of reporters who decided to ride the flume down the mountain.

Lake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The path of the flume above the little city of Incline Village is now well traveled. This is referred to as the Marlette Flume and it runs through Tunnel Creek Station. It can be a strenuous hike. The one time I made it up and back the entire way I lost a toenail. (I told a local man this and his response was, “Only one?”)

So this trip I noticed a new trail showing up when I searched online. The Incline Flume Trail starts off Highway 431, about 2 miles out of Incline Village. Due to some of this part of the flume trail lying in private land, up until recently it was not allowed on maps. Signage was finally put up when the landowners donated their holdings. It’s still only lightly traveled. Most hikers we met were locals. Reasons to find this trail if you go include views of the lake and an almost level path. It is truly a hidden gem. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

 

At first, I was excited to see little patches of snow hanging on in the June sun. Soon, the small patches grew to cover the flume trail. We had to cross the icy snow (in other words, it was slippery!) or turn back. I fell a couple of times, but I didn’t slide all the way down to the creek. I have only a few photos because I had to pack up my camera to protect it from a tumble. When we reached the creek, it was too wild to cross. I would love to come back later in the season to see more of this trail.Lake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

Our pup Bailey proved to be a trooper. He emerged a bit muddy but didn’t mind that at all. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

 

Back on solid dirt, we took in spectacular views of Lake Tahoe. You can also look over to Diamond Peak and pick out the ski runs down the mountain. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

We enjoyed this hike, but we weren’t quite ready for it to end. Returning to our car, which was parked along Highway 431, we noticed a trail veering down the other side of the road toward the lake. We decided to come back another day to explore that trail.

Later we stopped in the Visitors Center to ask about the unnamed trail. If you are in Incline Village, be sure to spend time chatting with the people who work here. They found out-of-print information on the flume trail and told us that we could explore it further by hiking on the other side of the highway. We learned a lot about the history of the flume. More than 80 miles of the V-shaped flume lined the hills. It’s hard to believe, but at the end of the lumber era, EVERY tree had been cut down. Forests are lush now, but all of these trees grew up after the 1880s.

So on our last morning at Lake Tahoe we parked in the same place off the highway and headed the other way. This unmarked, unmapped trail turned out to be a winner. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

It’s less traveled and is sheltered the entire way by pines. We started spying remains of the flume in the form of rotted pieces of formed wood and rusty nails. In the most shaded portions of the trail, the flume was quite obvious. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

 

Lake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

 

We were descending toward the lake, so the views grew more and more spectacular. Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

This part of the Incline Flume Trail intersected with Old Mt Rose Highway. This was obviously the path the logs took from the sawmill on the shore up this part of the mountain. We had hiked the “secret” Incline Flume Trail! Lake Tahoe Incline Flume TrailLake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

To find the Incline Flume Trail, travel up the mountain on Highway 431 out of Incline Village. About a mile past the Viewpoint stop, look for a parking area for about 6 cars. That’s it! For more information on the Incline Flume Trail, you can read this article. Or talk with locals when you visit Lake Tahoe. We’ve found that’s the best way to discover secrets and hidden gems here!  Lake Tahoe Incline Flume Trail

Linking up with Image-in-ing, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Weekend Wanderlust, Faraway Files, Wanderful Wednesday, Feet Do Travel, My Corner of the World, Monday Escapes, and Weekend Travel Inspiration.

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17 Comments

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin July 15, 2019 at 1:03 am

So neat! Thanks for sharing!

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William Kendall July 15, 2019 at 7:26 am

A gorgeous spot for a hike!

I wonder what Bailey was thinking of the snow on the ground at this time of year.

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Sharon July 18, 2019 at 7:42 am

We live in San Diego, where it never snows. So this was a first for him! He didn’t mind at all. He didn’t run and jump like some of the labs who came along, but he was perfectly happy!

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image-in-ing: weekly photo linkup July 15, 2019 at 11:59 am

Wonderful. Was your little fur-baby able to make the hike, or did you have to carry him? Looks rugged!
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-photography-of-hugh-l-mangum.html

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Sharon July 18, 2019 at 7:45 am

Bailey is small but mighty! We took him to Lake Tahoe last year and figured we would carry him when he got tired. The first day we hiked for 6 hours and he was still going strong. He just loves the outdoors. Only time we carried him was across a plank above a swollen creek!

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Carol July 16, 2019 at 2:57 am

Great trail – looks so beautiful!

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Little Wandering Wren July 16, 2019 at 7:36 pm

You had me at ‘off the beaten track’, fresh air and hike! Looks a wonderful trail, I bet the locals are happy that access has been given. My dog would have loved this walk too, maybe until you found snow, he is after all an Aussie hot dog!
Wren x

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Lauren July 17, 2019 at 11:40 am

This looks like a great trail! Next time we are in California we will have to make a point to visit.

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Katherine July 17, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Can I just send you to places that I’m going to visit, about a month before me? You find great stuff to do! And off the beaten track hikes are some of my favourite hikes…. as long as I’m not likely to get lost.

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Usha Sitaaraam July 19, 2019 at 8:08 am

Looks like a wonderful trail. I have never been to that part of US. Hope to some day. #feetdotravel

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Sarah July 21, 2019 at 2:20 am

What a lovely looking hike and so nice you could take Bailey with you. I love finding hikes like this, my dog would be in walk heaven lol.

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Lisa July 21, 2019 at 6:29 am

I’m so jealous you live in this part of the world! I’ve never been to Lake Tahoe when in the US, but have seen so many stunning photos and read plenty about it. The trail is so scenic, and I’d give it a go if I ever get to visit.

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Corey | Fifi + Hop July 21, 2019 at 6:23 pm

Nothing like discovering a hidden gem of a trail! I love to hike, and really miss the trails out west. Lake Tahoe is such a beautiful part of California, I can imagine the hiking there is pretty spectacular, as you’ve shown. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

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Nitin Singhal July 22, 2019 at 3:46 am

The scenery and views on Incline flumes trail are amazing. Seems like well worth of all the pain of hiking.

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Linda (LD Holland) July 22, 2019 at 6:19 am

I have only been to Tahoe once … but many many years ago. It would be great to enjoy something which is a spot for locals. I would definitely search out the path that is level and includes views of the lake. Losing a toenail would not be fun at all! The views were indeed quite stunning. How great that you went back and found the secret Incline Flume Trail.

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Lauren July 22, 2019 at 11:46 am

oooo this trail looks right up my alley! So cool that there was still snow- even in summer 🙂 Looks like you got some gorgeous views from up there as well

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Shona July 22, 2019 at 10:17 pm

I love this, Sharon. How cool to find a less travelled trail. Thanks for soldiering on with bumps & bruises so we can see this gorgeous pics. Toe nails saved = 10.

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