National Forest Foundation

Big Chief: Truckee’s New Favorite Mountain Biking Trail

NFF Grant Partners and Projects, Treasured Landscapes


The Truckee Trails Foundation’s (TTF) newest Big Chief Trail, funded by the National Forest Foundation’s Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences Program, was a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service – Truckee Ranger District that grew out of a mutual desire to build a legal, non-motorized trail connection between Truckee and the Tahoe Rim Trail to the south.

Though this trail is open to all non-motorized uses, partners agreed that the region was in need of a unique trail experience designed specifically for mountain bikers. The partnership with Northstar California was critical to this effort as they granted the Forest Service an easement for the upper portion of the alignment – among the most stunning sections of the trail.

The Big Chief Trail boasts seven miles of diverse opportunities including jumps, drops, a log ride, and thrilling flow. TTF’s crew also brought true trail artistry to the project by taking advantage of expansive views and building some of the best stone work found anywhere. Together, the experience on Big Chief makes it one of the most iconic trails in the region.

Construction began in summer of 2018, and was officially completed in spring of 2019. TTF’s seasonal trail crew worked full-time on this project throughout summer and fall of 2018, but also welcomed hundreds of volunteers over the course of the summer who were critical to the speed and efficiency of this effort.

Within weeks of the trail’s completion, YouTube videos and written reviews sprang up on the internet, all highlighting the excitement this project has created within the Truckee-Tahoe region. Among the comments include, “This trail is excellent;” “Looks like paradise;” and “All Hail the Chief!” Good stuff – many thanks to the builders.”

While the Truckee Trails Foundation and Truckee Ranger District built a superb trail, the biggest thanks goes to the National Forest Foundation and REI for providing the funding to make it happen. There is a large community of mountain bikers in the region who are truly grateful.

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