Explore Cottonwood Creek Hikes - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Cottonwood Creek Hikes Map

The trail starts of fairly rocky and smoothed out again until you get closer to the top. Very nice scenery throughout the hike. View from the top is a nice payoff. No water so bring what you’ll need plus food. Did it in early July and saw lots of wild flowers. Well marked. Hard to get lost. It took us three hours with stops.

2 days ago

This was a fun hike with a friend. Lots of great views and the weather was perfect since we live in the valley. Nice day trip to get out of the heat and get in some fun exercise. Would definitely do it again.

trail running
7 days ago

Shaded and well marked 10+ mile trail run. Super fun and not too technical. Loved being in the trees.

Excellent hike. Great views. Highly recommend this hike.

If I could add the photos I took to help you on the trail I would post it. 1. Park at the Donner Ski Ranch. 2. Walk up the skii hill access road. 3. You will come to a fork in the road, take the road on the right which should go past a tiny house with natural gas tank near it. 4. You will come to a water tank and garage, follow the road that hugs the building. 5. At the dam continue to follow around to the right side of the lake. 5a. The trail is not strictly hugging the lake but you can wander around further ahead past where you first find the dam. 5b. The trail is there somewhere and once you find it you are good to go. Enjoy!

Hiked this on Saturday, June 30! This is a perfect time to hike this trail. Passed a lot of through-hikers, say hello! The wildflowers are perfect as well, lots are popping, and should be good for at least another week or two - so beautiful. Make sure to tag Tinkers Nob at the half way point. Only one snow patch while leaving Sugar Bowl, but you can easily walk around - and should be melted out this week is my guess.

11 days ago

Beautiful views, but once you get to the first lake the trail runs underwater, and it is very difficult to find an alternate path.

Great hike !

Beautiful hike! Good workout. Stunning views.


18 days ago

Great views of the lake, easy hike

20 days ago

I hiked this but it looks like a great mountain biking trail. The first half was easy, second was moderate (more easy than moderate). I started at 8:30am on a Saturday and only ran into one other hiker and ~7 bikers so there were less people than I expected since this trail is so close to Truckee. Only one view point, but it's a nice walk through the trees. Perfect amount of sun/shade for hot days. Nice long hike but I was ready for it to be over due to the lack of views. I'm glad I had the AllTrails map since there are a couple tricky trail turns that aren't well marked.

20 days ago

Nice enough hike with some good views of the surrounding mountains.

It is a single file track for most of the trail so some basic trail etiquette would make this hike more enjoyable for everyone. But no such luck. Yielding to uphill traffic, packing out dog poop or even a simple "hello" seem to be altogether foreign concepts on this trail. We did this on a Monday when it was relatively quiet, I would definitely not do this on a weekend when lots of people compound the trail etiquette issue.

The notable pleasant exceptions to the above we encountered were PCT hikers and a handful of very friendly Europeans.

Who this trail is for: people looking for a workout instead of their usual gym and do not care about hiking as such.
Who this trail is not for: Anyone looking for inspiration or who enjoys hiking. Keep looking elsewhere because you are not missing anything by skipping the Mount Judah Loop Trail.

The view at the end at Point Mariah is stunning, almost rivaling something you’d see at Yellowstone.

There is also a great bluff overlook approx 1 mile into the trail that makes for a good stop and a 2 mile out and back if traveling with kids who can’t go the full 5 miles. The trail has a surprising amount of elevation climbing so bring a good walking stick. Great great great hike!

Beautiful day! Great hike, but you do end up on a road for the last 1/4 mile. Thanks to the folks that found my phone! You guys rock!

Easy hike to a spectacular view of Donner Lake! Gradual incline through pretty wildflowers. Most of the trail was sun exposed, so a hat and sunblock are a good idea. Really great hike for kids. Ports potty available at the trailhead as well as doggie bags. Plenty of parking in the trailhead parking lot.

22 days ago

Wonderful hike with beautiful views. Fairly easy and steady climb up to Mt Judah. We started at 6:30am to avoid the crowds and hot temperature. There were a ton of mosquitoes at the trailhead so be sure to bring your bug spray. Not much snow at the top (small patches here and there). Highly recommend Mt Judah and maybe tacking on Donner Peak along the way!

Third time hiking this trail yesterday, June 22. One of my favorites in Truckee - I’m a local. Views are stellar. Started at 7 am as it was going to be a hot day. Got very warm at the end. The trail is sun exposed. We had 3 dogs with us all in good shape and young but they went thru almost all our water. Leaving the trail around 12 noon we ran into people just starting the hike (in the heat of the day) with a 13 1/2 year old dog. Felt very, very sorry for the dog. Asked if they need the rest of my water. Said they had some by didn’t have a bowl. I gave hem mine - which is a collapsible. Folks: there is no water for the dogs on this trail and it gets very hot especially at the end when the dogs are tired already. Please remember to bring lots of water for your dog. And think about whether a 13 1/2 year old dog should even do this hike. Hope he made it.

Lovely and great views of the river and the lakes. Happy I went with the dog. Great early morning hike!

27 days ago

Good hike while getting acclimated to the altitude.

Great view at the end. Bring a hammock or type of chair.

Beautiful spot, but much of the trail is under water and challenging to find pass arounds. The app really doesn't help much at all. Still, we enjoyed our day.

Busy trail, but definitely worth it.

1 month ago

Great hike this morning to top of Martis Peak from Brockway Summit trailhead (just below heading towards KB). Gorgeous views on a gorgeous day.

Kind of technical first mile ascent, but great afterwards. Went last week and there was still significant snow! It was awesome!

The top was super windy (50mph) to beware on windy days. There’s no coverage up there.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Challenging bike ride! Make sure you read the signs, we ended up doing the second half of the trail twice. Lots of sharp rocks during the first part but it was lots of fun to go down!

1 month ago

I’ve tried this hike twice in the past, but was never able to complete it. As they say, third times a charm!! I finally completed it a few days ago. Though it’s a bit of a lengthy hike, it was pretty moderate, so no having to worry about major uphill or downhill. Word of advice: pay attention to the trail signs!! I almost got turned around a couple times!!

beautiful views and an easy hike. don't forget the sunscreen.

on Donner Peak Trail

1 month ago

Great trail off I-80. Some hard switchbacks at the beginning but it’s overall short to get to the peak and view of Donner Lake below. You can continue onto Mt. Judah but it was not worth it to me.

1 month ago

Beautiful trail! Really feels remote even though it’s very easily accessible. The view at Mariah Point was just stunning. I could’ve stayed there all day. There were some parts of the hike that were challenging for me but I’m totally out of shape, I imagine it’s a snap for a more fit person. I plan to go back very soon, this was a great way to escape the 97 degree heat in Sacramento.

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