Elevation Gain
1,390.00 ft (423.67 m)
Trail type
6.30 mi (10.14 km)
Warming hut
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The Incline Bull Wheel Snowshoe route follows the Tunnel Creek Trail and a portion of the Incline Flume Trail to reach a historic wooden bull wheel used in aiding in an era of construction of the Incline Village area.

The snowshoe trail begins at the popular Tunnel Creek trailhead in Incline Village. The first portion of the trail sees heavy usage, as the popular Monkey Rock overlook lies just off this snowshoe trail, along with a spur allowing hikers to complete a loop with the East Shore Trail. This means that the lower portion of this trail may be well worn and snowshoes might not even be a necessity. However after the split with the Monkey Rock trail about a mile in, the tracks thin out significantly, as the Tunnel Creek trail gains in elevation with wide open views of Lake Tahoe behind. As you travel further up, you may find only a couple other sets of tracks. While this hiking route is extremely popular during the summer months, winter reserves the trail for the intrepid visitor.

Eventually, the Tunnel Creek trail hits a signed fork with the Incline Flume trail, which gains a little more in elevation across the western facing slopes of the mountains. A signed fork marks the final uphill stretch leading to the Incline Bull Wheel which stands at an elevation of 7680'.

While the bull wheel isn't much to look at - especially in the winter months when snowbanks may leave only a smaller portion of the wooden abandonment visible - it marks a historically significant reminder of the area's old construction techniques before lumber and materials were commonly transported via automobile. 

The bull wheel operated from 1880 to 1894, helping to haul lumber over the mountains which would be used to construct the Incline Tramway and the flume. The parcel of land that the bull wheel sits on was private property until recently when its donation to the Forest Service allowed for the completion of the flume trail. Currently efforts are being made to restore the wooden bull wheel, so hikers can view it but are asked not to approach it.

After reaching the bull wheel, snowshoers have the option to return the route they came (for a total round distance of 7 miles), or to continue just a short bit further on the Flume Trail before turning off and following a steep course down through the backcountry, tracing the slopes down until meeting back up with the lower portion of the trail. During the winters, this route is unmarked and hard to follow, so those opting for the steep route down should be prepared to navigate the forested backcountry, however on the plus side, there's a good chance that the powder will be untracked and you'll be sliding down virgin snow.

After hitting the original trail, retrace your route back to the Tunnel Creek parking area.

This hike takes place on Spooner Lake State Park land, there is a self-pay station where those entering on foot can pay the park's $2 per person entry fee.

The trailhead lies at the top of Tunnel Creek Road, just behind the Tunnel Creek Cafe.

Parking is available in the Tunnel Creek parking area, where fees are charged from March 1st-November 30th. 

There are no amenities, bathrooms or water available along the hike.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Street Parking


Amazing views. Access to backcountry.


You may be cutting your own tracks into the snow. Lots of dog waste on the popular lower portions.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions

Trailhead Elevation

6,325.00 ft (1,927.86 m)

Highest point

7,690.00 ft (2,343.91 m)


Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Groomed trail


Snowmobiles allowed



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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