I have spent a lot of time during my trip running through national parks and national forests, running along trails that are famed nationally (and some even internationally) with three-letter acronyms (TRT, PCT) or named after famed people (the John Muir Trail), and even one with two races associated to it (the Western States Trail). On this day I would keep it a lot more local. I spotted the Sawtooth Trail on one of my topographical maps of the Tahoe National Forest made by National Geographic. But looking further into the trail I realised that it is not a US Forest Service trail but rather a local trail. At 9 or 10 miles I decided that the distance was good, and apparently it is a popular trail for the locals, particularly the mountain bikers.
I made my way through downtown Truckee and out towards the trailhead. As I exited my vehicle there were a few other cars in the car park and a runner finishing off some cool-down stretches. We greeted each other, I put on my hydration vest (packed exactly as I plan to use it on race day), and set out along the trail. The trail forms a lollipop route so I set out along the stick. True to reputation I was passed in the opposite direction by a group of five cyclists and then shortly after by a single cyclist as I made my way to the loop. I came across a pleasant view towards the Truckee River so I stopped for a quick photo. After two miles of pleasant single-track running through forested areas I reached the loop, and set off in a counter-clockwise direction that is apparently most popular.
Part way along I reached a turnoff for a lollipop route off the main trail towards a viewpoint. I had decided to skip it when I set out but upon reaching it I decided that I really should see the highlight views. I reached the viewpoint and realised that the views I had admired earlier were actually nicer so I continued on without stopping. I made my way back to the main route and continued on with my loop. The trail had no major climbs but continued to gently roll making for a relatively easy run without getting uninteresting.
I completed the loop and started my way back along the stick. I passed another group of 5 or 6 mountain bikers, and it was quite obvious that the trail was designed with them in mind. The main feature that highlights a mountain bike trail over a hiking trail is unnecessary curves. Hiking trails tend to follow the land, curving to avoid obstacles or climbs that can be traversed, and including switchbacks to grade ascents and descents. Mountain bike trails will often include curves for the reason that they are fun to cycle around, and I started to notice how many of those there were as I completed the final 2 miles. I made it back to my car and returned to town having enjoyed a very pleasant trail run on one of the local’s favourite trails.
You can read about me mixing it up with the local at MovesCount.com here.