Donner Summit Canyon Trail

Donner, California

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A relatively new addition to the area, the Donner Summit Canyon Trail traces a historical route from the vicinity of Donner Lake to Donner Summit. Along the way, you’ll encounter lush foliage and early-season wildflowers, a beaver pond, serene forest, and scenic views across slopes of classic Sierra granite. The presence of man also will be seen, as much of the route follows an old wagon road used to supply workers on the transcontinental railroad. The upper section is never too far from the old Lincoln Highway (Donner Pass Road: the main trans-Sierra road before the four-lane thoroughfare of I-80 was constructed) and the old railroad grade, with snow sheds and stone retaining walls visible from many spots along the trail. While nowadays the old road transports only light traffic and the railroad grade has long been abandoned in favor of a tunnel to the south, the modern-day scene includes climbers scaling the vertical rock faces near the summit. Casual hikers interested in an easier hike can follow shorter sections of trail to a couple of picnic areas.
Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Afoot & Afield: Tahoe-Reno: 201 Spectacular Outings in the Lake Tahoe Region

by Mike White (Wilderness Press)

A relatively new addition to the area, the Donner Summit Canyon Trail traces a historical route from the vicinity of Donner Lake to Donner Summit. Along the way, you’ll encounter lush foliage and early-season wildflowers, a beaver pond, serene forest, and scenic views across slopes of classic Sierra granite. The presence of man also will be seen, as much of the route follows an old wagon road used to supply workers on the transcontinental railroad.

The upper section is never too far from the old Lincoln Highway (Donner Pass Road: the main trans-Sierra road before the four-lane thoroughfare of I-80 was constructed) and the old railroad grade, with snow sheds and stone retaining walls visible from many spots along the trail. While nowadays the old road transports only light traffic and the railroad grade has long been abandoned in favor of a tunnel to the south, the modern-day scene includes climbers scaling the vertical rock faces near the summit. Casual hikers interested in an easier hike can follow shorter sections of trail to a couple of picnic areas.

© 2016 Mike White/Wilderness Press. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Donner
Distance: 6.8
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: 3-4 hours
Season: Best mid-June through mid-October
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Local Contacts: Truckee Donner Land Trust at 530-582-4711, tdlandtrust.org; Tahoe National Forest at 530-587-3558, www.fs.usda.gov/tahoe
Local Maps: TDLT Donner Summit Canyon
Driving Directions: Directions to Donner Summit Canyon Trail

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Apr 2018