Armstrong, Saxon Creek, and Mr Toads Wild Ride or whatever else this loop is called, all I can say is that this could well be the best trail the USA has to offer. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!.
This trail offers everything any mountain biker dreams of.. and more!.. all bundled into a 18.84 mile loop
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: South Lake Tahoe
Length: 18.84 total miles
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: [ What the books say ] Aerobically: strenuous. Technical : difficult
Skill Level: [ My opinion ] Aerobically: strenuous. Technical : difficult / mental
Duration: 4 – 4.5 hours [ my time ] 5.58 hours
Trailhead Elev: 6,200 feet
Top Elev: 9,600 feet
Saxon Creek Trail is more commonly known as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Noted for its wild downhill, this is one of the legendary trails in Tahoe. There are several ways to access Mr. Toad’s, but this loop eliminates a shuttle and minimizes the road riding. The first 3.0 miles up the paved Fountain Place Road are on a route that was one man’s dream for the main pass over the mountains. Today the ride from the end of the road to the ridge follows some beautiful and well-graded singletrack that connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) at Armstrong Pass. An out-and-back to Armstrong Pass is a great ride in itself. It’s a bit of a huff along the TRT to Saxon Creek Trail, but the views along the rim are gorgeous. The descent on Mr. Toad’s is extreme: steep, technical, nicely banked turns, concrete lattice trail work, and some impossible drops. Mr. Toad’s is for advanced riders with the good sense to walk the crazy stuff.
My previous ride Heavenly 2 Armstrong, I completely under-estimated the trail and myself, and I paid the price, I got slaughtered!! Today on the Armstrong Saxon Creek and Mr Toads Wild Ride I yet again misjudged the trail, however, this time it was to my benefit.
I had already come down the Armstrong pass trail, but I was so knackered I for some reason convinced myself that it was gonna be a grunt riding up the trail. I started at the bottom at the trailhead parking, and cycled the 4 miles to the start of the “real” trail, the 4 road miles were not too bad, and an excellent warm up. Although I preferred coming down the Armstrong, going up was not bad at all, and although a bit of a slog, it is 100% doable, and it’s actually a really nice climb. At the Armstrong Pass junction the TRT trail continues to climb, however this section is more strenuous than the previous miles, not so much technically, but because of some very loose sand / gravel on the trail. Both Armstrong and the TRT section is very scenic, and excellent trail conditions.
After 3 hours of great climbing, the trail tops out… from this point on, it’s 98% downhill, and not just any old downhill, this section puts all and any theme park to shame.. It’s time for a 9 mile downhill roller coaster ride.
The first part of the “gauntlet” is short lived, a grade 5 section forces every human with a will to live, get off their steed and walk this section. Once that’s behind you, there is miles of fantastic but technical and narrow singletrack to enjoy. Just when you are on the brink of thinking you are immortal, Mr Toad brings you back to your senses.
Let me just be completely honest, NOTHING I say, or the photo’s and videos you see online will give you a real impression of Mr Toad… It is the craziest shit I have ever seen, let’s put it this way, if I had the best DH bike on the market, with the best body armor on the market, and you offered me a million buck to ride down Mr Toad, i know there is no way I could convince my brain and my body to take me down. For any mountain bikers that have ever done the “Holy Cross” trail in Grand Juction Colorado, it’s 5 times more mental than that…
So, I can now say I walked my steed down Mr Toads Wild Ride… even that was scary!! And although that is by far the most impossible section of the loop, there are LOT’S of hairy sections on the rest of the trail. Just be sensible on this trail, and it is possibly the best trail you will ever do.
All I can say is, JUST DO IT!!… EVERYTHING a mountain biker dreams and more packed into a 19 mile loop.
Armstrong Saxon Creek and Mr Toads Wild Ride should be on everyone’s wish list.
Traffic on Trail : a handful of friendly mountain bikers ( No hikers )
Wild Life : who needs it on a trail like this?… I didn’t see any
Scenery : excellent scenery
Other : Take extra water and energy nibbles. Be sensible, a trail is only fun if you make it to the end in one piece. This is definitely not a trail for novices
My Trail Rating : 10 / 10 with a Gold Star
I would really like to thank everyone who works on these trails, you guys do an excellent job in maintaining the trails, and without you I myself and others would not be able to enjoy this activity.