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Historic Donner Pass Trail

MODERATE 199 reviews

Historic Donner Pass Trail is a 5.9 mile lightly 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
4 days 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
7 days 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
13 days ago

Easy trial, but awesome.

hiking
13 days 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
1 month ago

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

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 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
2 months ago

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

hiking
2 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
2 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
2 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
2 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
3 months ago

we had a great time

hiking
3 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..

hiking
3 months ago

If you like walking though wet, cold, dark industrial tunnels without visible end, while outside one of the most beautiful places in the world is shuttered from your view, then this is the trail for you!

hiking
3 months ago

The snow is mostly gone with the exception of a few patches. Sneakers are fine if you go into the tunnels and back. If you go up and around the latter part of the hike, you MUST have boots or hiking shoes as the dry trail is super slippery and steep on the descent. Bring a proper flashlight or two.

hiking
snow
3 months ago

Easy hike with great views of nature and art. Bring your camera. Bring a flashlight. Be ready to get a little wet.

hiking
3 months ago

Excellent experience the weekend of 6/15: we only did the first 3 tunnels because I got too cold for my attire. There were a couple patches of snow and the first lookout midway through tunnel 3 was a bit slick to try and get to (watched multiple people slip on to their butts, but everyone was smiling) The melting snow made fun waterfalls in and out of tunnels, and on top of graffiti. I would suggest to get this fun experience that you wear waterproof shoes (or just prepare to walk with wet ones, which doesn’t bother me) but to also wear a LIGHT RAIN JACKET. As long as you have that it’s a fantastic stroll along the ridge above Donner. I’d love to go back and do it again with my rain jacket so I can get farther! I think the melting snow is an huge factor in the fun and uniqueness of this hike!

hiking
4 months ago

Unique hike. A mellow hike with a small section of incline. lots of people on the first section then things out. Beautiful views and a great little hike.

hiking
scramble
snow
4 months ago

Hiked this today. Could only make it through 1st 3 tunnels . At the end of the 3rd one there was a huge snow drift that we felt was not safe to go across due to angle of snow. The tunnels were very wet with lots of water, in some spots ankle deep. There was water falling from top and sides and ice in numerous places . Glad we had rain coat and waterproof boots. It was necessary to scramble a few snow drifts at tunnel openings. Be sure and carry headlamp or flashlight. Glad I did it once, but prefer vistas over tunnels.

7 months ago

Very easy hike. Definately worth a stop if you're on your way to Reno. Next time I will bring a bike. I got a lot of photos of cool graffiti in the tunnels. I didn't do the whole hike, just went until I got tired of the scenery and headed back.

hiking
11 months ago

easy and dog friendly.

11 months ago

the first part of the trail is good for all ages due to it is flat and just a nice walk through the old train tunnels. However the loop part is definitely for more experience and for people that are in shape. If you are not experience tour in shape you can still do the loop but be advised that it is climbing a hillside. But over all is was a wonderful hike and my group had a good time.

hiking
11 months ago

I love this hike! It involves the Donner train tunnels and the China wall of the Sierra! I love getting some history with my hike. Oh and don’t forget to see the petroglyphs near the bottom!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

love the old tunnels, not really a hike but one of my favorites none the less. a beautiful view of the lake in the middle of a tunnel turn out.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Beautiful views. Mostly covered (in tunnels)

hiking
Saturday, September 01, 2018

The hike was pretty boring for the most part. The tunnels were cool for a while, but kinda sketchy and they got old after a while. After that, the hike to the top was great. Steep, rocky, and loose made for an epic day. The views are the top were great!

hiking
Monday, August 20, 2018

great scenery great people working to maintain it

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