Hiking and Biking on the Tomkins Memorial Trail
In the woods surrounding Northstar California is a 17+ mile network of trails called the Tompkins Memorial Trail, or T.M.T. for short. It’s open for walkers, hikers, runners, and mountain bikers – though anecdotally, there are not many bikers that use it. Maintained by Northstar California in conjunction with the US Army Corp of Engineers, the trails stay beautifully maintained from late spring through the following winter. The best part about the trails is that you have access to them from nearly every neighborhood within Northstar, including The Retreat homesites off Big Springs Drive. Below are some of our favorite routes to take on the T.M.T.
Martis Valley Loop – Easy to Moderate
The crown jewel of the T.M.T. is the 4.1 mile loop around the Martis Valley floor. This trail is primarily flat with only one or two stretches of incline. It meanders through the wetlands where you can see plenty of birds and especially shines during early summer for the lupines and other wildflowers. You’ll cross several streams and there are a number of benches where you can rest or enjoy the tranquility.
Most users access this from the turnoff on 267 that gets parked out, but residents of Northstar have easy backdoor access via the T.M.T. From The Retreat, it’s an additional ~1.5 miles from the end of Cross Cut Court.
Mill Site Road to Mid-Mountain and Beyond – Moderate to Difficult
For something a little more challenging, head the opposite direction on the T.M.T. starting from Mill Site Road instead of Cross Cut. Beginning with a steep decent towards the M25 and Mountainside communities, eventually it dumps out at The Ritz Carlton. From here you have three options: 1. Take a breath and enjoy a cocktail overlooking the mid-mountain area for biking, 2. Continue on the T.M.T. which will weave around the edge of the Big Springs neighborhood and eventually back to The Retreat, or 3. Keep hiking beyond the T.M.T. network. If you continue east, you’ll get to Sawmill Lake, which is a popular catch and release fishing pond. From Sawmill, you can actually continue via the Triumph Trail (not pictured) all the way to the Tahoe Rim Trail.
Mill Site Road to the Martis Camp Public Trails – Easy to Difficult
As opposed to going all the way to The Ritz Carlton, starting from The Retreat on Mill Site Road, go about halfway up the T.M.T. and you’ll see a turn off to your right that begins the Martis Camp Public Trails. These trails offer and additional 20 miles that weave through Martis Camp and offer anything from easy to difficult routes.