While Tahoe is world renowned for mountain biking, there is one trail that has arguably brought Tahoe more biking fame than any other, the Flume Trail. The Flume Trail certainly isn’t easy, but the scenery far outweighs its difficulty. The beauty of this trail can’t be credited to anyone, but its accessibility, as an acclaimed biking trail can be, meet Max Jones.
Max Jones, the owner of the Tunnel Creek Cafe and Flume Trail Bikes, was a professional mountain biker for 13 years. As his resume suggests, Max likes a healthy challenge. When he and his wife Patti McMullan moved to Tahoe in 1982, he soon discovered what would become a life changing one. While out on his bike, Max happened upon what could loosely be described as a trail. His exploration of this ‘Flume Trail’ was a game changer for both him and the community.
The Flume Trail was a remnant of the lumber industry and their creation of wooden channels to transport water. When the mills left Tahoe their ‘flume’ routes remained. Upon his discovery in 83’, Max immediately knew he had to ride it but it wasn’t anywhere near rideable. He met the challenge and cleared
the trail by hand, daily, the entire summer. He cleared brush, landslide debris and removed piping left behind by a company
in the 60’s who had abandon their attempt to revive The Flume. That company dozed all the old wood flume remnants off of
the flume. Max knew, even then, that the Flume was something special. Officially it is 4.5 miles long, offering a great variety of terrain. However, the locals know it is the scenery that makes this trail exceptional. The lure of the Flume is why media outlets around the world can’t stop writing about it and why biking enthusiasts come yearly to ride it. Max’s story is a bonus.
While his trail building days are behind him, he has
done plenty since. Max won two national mountain biking championships and rode all around the world. His bike travels in Europe are where the inspiration for his second career was found. As pure as his desire was related to The Flume, it was a similar simple desire for good food and drink that led him and his wife to open the Tunnel Creek Cafe.
Those who are attracted to Tahoe by the trail that brought Max acclaim, now stay for the delicious bites and beverages
at the cafe built with a similar work ethic using different skills. Tunnel Creek, run primarily by his wife Patti McMullan, offers quality and convenience. Flume Trail Bikes, operated by Max, offers shuttle service to the trail of the same name from the cafe. Max’s accomplishments with the trail and their services to nearby recreation are beneficial to bikers; however, the cafe and its success undoubtedly prove his reach beyond the biking community.
There are few residents who have had such a last and positive imprint on the town of Incline as Max Jones. Both the trail he made famous, and its adjacent cafe are popular for different reasons, but both have an indisputable and timeless appeal, adding to Tahoe’s fame and acclaim.