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Historic Donner Pass Trail

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Donner Memorial State Park

Historic Donner Pass Trail is a 5.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Truckee, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.9 miles Elevation Gain: 905 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

snowshoeing

walking

bird watching

running

cave

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

snow

An easy, unique, yet beautiful hike through multiple segments of tunnels with openings throughout the trail that offer views of Donner Lake. Along the walls of the tunnels is a graffiti artists playground. Graffiti line the walls from the beginning to the very end.

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 day ago

Decent hike if you do the entire loop. Majority of the trail was inside the abandon railroad tracks-little spooky and chilly. Lots of gravel and water in the caves. The end of the trail is outside and was a good little work out. I’m not sure what was “historical” about it but it did have some amazing views of Donner Lake

hiking
bugs
11 days ago

Have wanted to do this trail for years, so happy to finally have the time #thankscovid! Get up and out on the trail by 7am to avoid people. We didn’t see another soul until we completed the loop and heading back through the tunnels, then it was gobs of peeps/kids which gets noisy in the tunnels -it’s much nicer having it cooler and quieter in the early morning. At mile 3-4 is where the elevation gains come in, got a bit tiring with all the mosquitoes up on the higher trail, but the lookout views are worth it. Any shoe works, but really recommend boots for all the loose rocks you walk on for 6miles.

walking
13 days ago

This hike was pretty easy. However, the gravel may hurt the weak ankles a bit! I definitely suggest bringing a flashlight and venturing out of the tunnels for lunch. The weather was about 85-90F that day so it was perfect for walking through the chilly, wet tunnels.

hiking
14 days ago

Heavily trafficked, well worn trail with nice shade for most of the hike. A few wildflowers here and there and great views from the peak!

walking
snow
1 month ago

I’ll start by saying I didn’t do the full loop, however I did like the hike even though it’s more of a walk. There might’ve been more elevation further into the loop but for the most part there’s no incline. It’s definitely an interesting place to explore. It’s chilly in the tunnels so take a light sweatshirt (was there two weeks ago and weather was warm) also take a flashlight you’ll probably need it.

hiking
icy
muddy
snow
1 month ago

This trail is about a 3.5 star trail. I only went halfway into the trail, because we were on a time limit. Some of the tunnels have large snow mountains blocking the path, you have to grab onto the hooks on the wall to walk around them. You have the choice of walking on the snow and risking slipping down the mountain side, or trying to walk around them. Both are dangerous. I had a close call, so I'd recommend letting the snow melt before I try the trail again. The views outside of the tunnels are cool, but it gets old after a while. Right now the snow is melting, so the tunnels are very wet, and it can be hard to motivate through the tunnel without getting your shoes and socks wet. Just be safe everyone, my friend I hiked with saw dog poop in the snow, and we both saw dogs running around without leashes. Definitely a better trail in the summer I'd imagine! We were pretty cold even with us walking around and hopping over stuff.

hiking
muddy
snow
1 month ago

Most of the trail is inside the tunnels, which is cool at first but got kind of old. It’s very wet right now due to the snow melt. The part of the trail after the tunnels is still pretty snowy. It’s worth checking out a couple of the tunnels but I wouldn’t do the whole trail again

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike and a lot of fun. I understand that it’s okay to have dogs off leash but would have been nice to have them on good voice control or even hike with a leash for when you come across some with dogs that are on leash that don’t really like dogs running up on them. Way to many uncontrolled dogs.

7 months ago

The tunnels were so cool! It was a combination of going seeing art in a museum while hiking something that feel abandoned. It was a great experience. I got lost trying to follow the loop, but there were a lot of different paths. Regardless, I loved this. If you're looking for a spooky atmosphere, don't go during peak hiking hours.

hiking
rocky
7 months ago

Tunnels were awesome! Starting and ending points were a little hard to follow. And getting back on the trail after the top view was a challenge but the rest was worth it. Very cold in the tunnels. Very dark in a few spots. Amazing art!

What a fun and easy hike! The wind was howling at the top. What's with the tunnels? So cool!

hiking
8 months ago

Interesting trail. More tunnels then we initially thought. AllTrails map is accurate, but if you take the loop all the way around reconnecting to the main tunnel is challenging. We found it took us to the top of the rail tunnel not the opening. Getting back down to the level of the tunnel opening required retracing our steps and sort of searching for a path.

hiking
9 months ago

The tunnels are great, and are a unique feature of this hike. this trail also offers amazing views of Donner Lake and various rock formations throughout. We did the entire loop, including the detour to the peak. Total hike was about 10 miles. The walk through the tunnels is fairly flat, but it can be deceptively difficult due to altitude, distance and deep gravel in some spots. Several sections of the tunnels are fairly wet, or iced over at times, but it is easily navigable. Once we left the tunnels we followed the All Trails map down a road, almost missing the switchbacks that took us up the mountain. Parts of the Trail are already covered in snow this early in the year. I had cell phone access throughout which is a good thing. I may have gotten lost had I not had the All trail maps to follow. The first time I came out here (last year) I did get lost, as there are several trails that intersect. I just followed a group of people, thinking they new the directions...and I was hiking on the PCP for a while before I looked at the map and realized I was going the wrong direction. This year I paid much closer attention. The loop was great, I really appreciated the side trip to the top of the peak. The Hike up really wasn't that hard...all things considered, and the overlook was amazing. The trail back down to the tunnels was a bit steep and again...covered in ice and snow, but I took my time and navigated it without incident. Someone else indicated that the All Trails map is accurate, but takes you to the top of the tunnels. While you certainly can go that route...if you keep following the trail down it will eventually connect to the inside of the tunnels without issue. While not a premium subscriber to All Trails...this hike certainly made me strongly consider it. Although I can download google maps on my phone this trail wasn't on Google maps, and having the ability to download the maps directly to my phone would have been nice.

hiking
muddy
snow
9 months ago

Easy trial, but awesome.

hiking
9 months ago

This is a great hike.. It's a fun time going through the tunnels. Great views :) I made a quick youtube video you can check out ahead of time :) Link below. https://youtu.be/kZeKsOQMLmk

hiking
9 months ago

It gets chilly in the tunnels. It’s clear the donners had no chance of succeeding in November.

hiking
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

So, if you do the whole loop, it is not easy. I would say more moderate. It has some steep inclines and declines. The walk thru the tunnels is really cool and easy however! Would recommend. We came around 730 and there wasnt anyone on the trail to be seen until around 1030-11 on our way out. Ended up totaling us 8.5 miles.

hiking
10 months ago

Get on top of the tunnels, but be careful. Amazing experience.

hiking
11 months ago

I loved this trail! may be that we went the wrong way, but I can't say it was "easy". we missed the first part and walked along an alternative path, followed it to the train tunnels... followed the train tunnels to a fire road, the app then directed us to a good incline for an extended period. naturally what goes up has to come down and the decent was pretty rough. again great trail but the one we did I would caution against it being classified as "easy".

hiking
11 months ago

Beautiful view! Awesome tunnels filled with interesting graffiti. Definitely bring a flash light and tall hiking boots, the tunnels are muddy, some spots have unavoidable water puddles. Great photography opportunities. Wear layers, bring your own snacks and it's a bit of a drive down to the next eatery. The stability in the tunnels is iffy, not difficult just be cautious. It's dark.

hiking
11 months ago

Thoroughly enjoyed the view of Donner Lake. You need hailing shoes and a flashlight handy. a tripod if you want to take pictures in the train tunnels in a long exposure.

hiking
bugs
11 months ago

Definitely recommended bringing a flashlight and bug spray because I got eaten alive by bugs. Pretty easy trail and the tunnels go for a few miles. Just got a slight headache from fresh spray paint but good for families. I went with my dog and you get an amazing view of Donner lake.

hiking
11 months ago

we had a great time

hiking
11 months ago

I went today with a friend and have to say, what a beautiful hike! If you do go, wear water proof shoes, hiking boots, not tennis shoes like I did.. LOL.. The cool air in the tunnels felt soo good.. The scenery was just amazing..

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