Lake Tahoe Flume Trail: Marlette Lake to Tunnel Creek

Guess what day it is?! Hump day long run! I don’t intentionally save my long runs for the middle of the week, but when your weekend is consumed with the typical Labor Day festivities, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get in a long run, hence why I decided to run 14 miles after a full day at the office. Ewwww.

Before I  get to that, let’s talk about the weekend! On Saturday morning, I participated in the Butterfly Effect 5K. The nicest girl that I used to go to school with was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a couple of years ago and her and her awesome friends decided to put on a 5K to raise money and awareness for this horrible disease. Their website does a much better job explaining it than I ever could, so go check it out. Overall, I was happy with how the race went. I finished 20th overall, but still managed to get 5th in my age group. Errrrr. I guess the field of 30-39 year old women was stacked. Next year I’ll get on that podium!

Then Sunday, me and some girlfriends went to the Best of the West Nugget Rib Cook-off. It was packed, it was hot, and the ribs were expensive. If you’ve never been, I think it is something that is fun to experience, but I don’t know if I will be running back for seconds next year. Besides, I’ve got a rib recipe coming your way that could rival the champs at the cook-off. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of riding the Zipper again. Carney rides are so ridiculously fun, especially when you’ve had a few beers and are rocking upside down 100 feet in the air… that may be the only reason go back next year.

So, let’s get to what this is really all about. An amazing trail, beautiful mountain lake, and drop dead gorgeous views of Lake Tahoe. The Lake Tahoe Flume Trail is all-around one of my favorite trails in Tahoe. It is close, you can run as long or short as you want, and the views are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Checkout my previous post on one of my favorite out-and-back runs. Monkey Rock is also accessible from this trail and is one of my most popular posts. Who doesn’t want to find a monkey in the woods?

For tonight’s 14-miler, I was trying to decide what to do and realized that I really didn’t want to run circles around town. That gets so old when you are in the middle of marathon training. Thinking I was up for a challenge, I decided to do the through-trail from Spooner to Marlette to Tunnel Creek. The trail is exactly the length that I need in my training cycle right now and includes about 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

To get there, park your car at the Tunnel Creek Cafe and take the mountain bike shuttle or have a friend (thanks, Mom!) drop you off at Spooner Lake. Spooner is located about 10 miles South of Tunnel Creek Cafe on Highway 28. Once you are at Spooner Lake, take the parking lot to the left and you will see a sign for “all trailheads.” From there, follow the dirt trail down and you will see a sign for Marlette Lake and North Canyon Road. You will continue to follow this road through the trees for about .8 miles.

Trailhead for North Canyon Road.

Trailhead for North Canyon Road.

After that, you will come to a trailhead. Follow North Canyon Road if you are on a mountain bike. However, if you are running or hiking, take the single track trail (Marlette Lake Trail) up the switchbacks. It is much more picturesque and you won’t have to worry about getting run over by mountain bikers. You will continue to follow this trail for 3.75 miles to Marlette. Most the of the trail is uphill, but you do get a reprieve for the last .75 miles as you come down the mountain and approach Marlette.

Beautiful Marlette Lake

Beautiful Marlette Lake

Once you are at Marlette, continue around the left side of the lake until you reach the Flume Trail. As gorgeous as Marlette is, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Flume Trail is jaw dropping.

Marlette Flume Trailhead. They are serious when they say to be careful.

Marlette Flume Trailhead. They are serious when they say to be careful.

There were several times where I almost found myself running off the trail or tripping over rocks because I was so distracted by the view.

One of the best views of Lake Tahoe I have ever seen from the Flume Trail.

One of the best views of Lake Tahoe I have ever seen from the Flume Trail.

From here, you will follow the Flume Trail for about 4 more miles and then you will be at Tunnel Creek Road. Three miles of downhill will take you back to Tunnel Creek Cafe where you left your car… and believe me, your quads will be so happy to see it!

All in all, the trail is roughly 14 miles one-way and consists of about 1,000 feet of elevation gain in the first four miles. Whether you are a runner, hiker, or mountain biker, I would highly recommend this trail be added to your list of things to do. You won’t regret it, the views are insane, and you’ll get a pretty good workout in, too. What are some of your favorite trails for the views?

One Comment on “Lake Tahoe Flume Trail: Marlette Lake to Tunnel Creek

  1. Pingback: More Than Just a Jar Full of Nails: Trail Therapy | Running Primal

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