OverviewKings Canyon Road is actually the original Old Lincoln Highway grade between Carson City and Lake Tahoe. The ride is all dirt road, unless one starts from downtown Carson City proper.
Climbing from 5400ft above Carson City to 7000ft at Spooner Summit, Kings Canyon is no slouch for elevation gain. Most of the gain takes place in the first 3 miles of the climb, so expect to get the worst over quickly.
Views are scenic, looking over the expansive Carson Valley to the south and the abrupt slopes and eastern peaks of the Sierra in the southern Lake Tahoe region.
The ride is a local's favorite for conditioning, as it is quite accessible from anywhere in town.
Kings Canyon is the first stage in the full version of the Marlette Loop ride, in which one starts in Carson City and rides up to Spooner Summit, downs to the State Park entrance, up North Canyon to Marlette Lake, across the Flume Trail, and over Tunnel Creek summit to various exits to Carson City again.
Trail DescriptionThe offical "trailhead" is at the end of the paved portion of King's Canyon Road, a continuation of King's Street in the downtown area. The road leads due west from the State Capitol, and climbs out of the city through low-density residential until reaching a large turn-around and parking spot.
Many locals actually ride the extra 700ft gain from town, but this trail description starts at the dirt. Exit the parking area on the wide dirt road uphill and to the left.
The road is hard-packed dirt and rock, with very few sandy spots along the first 3 miles. During this time, the grade is fairly steep, giving the rider a good aerobic workout. After a couple switchbacks, the road contours along the hillside and makes for a small saddle, which marks the end of the steep climb and the beginning of the longer, easier gradient.
The road stays pretty much on contour for the next 5 miles, with very minor dips. A few hundred feet below through the pine trees is Highway 50 to Spooner summit, but traffic noise is almost non-existent. Depending on the season, there are a few sandy spots along this section, but nothing serious.
The final mile includes a quick steep climb, and then you pop out just above the NDOT highway maintenance station on Spooner.
Note: this road is drivable with a 4WD and high clearance, so don't be surprised if you run across motorcycles, ATVs, and Jeeps.