Summit Lake from Johnson Canyon via Donner Lake Rim Trail

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Tahoe National Forest

Summit Lake from Johnson Canyon via Donner Lake Rim Trail is a 5.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Truckee, California that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length5.6 miElevation gain1,145 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashCross-country skiingHikingMountain bikingSnowshoeingRunningForestLakeViewswild-flowersWildlife
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Reviews (86)
Photos (137)
Recordings (88)
Completed (198)
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Mark Seigworth
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Hiking

Good spot for snowshoeing. Nice views. The parking lot gets full on weekends.

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Katrin Steinert
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Hiking

Awesome trail!

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Tiffany Bradley
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Hiking

Easy navigated trail. It’s on a fire road then once you get to the lake it’s a single track trail around the lake and back down the fire road. It’s a pretty tough climb for most. I hiked up then ran down.

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Pressy Sankaran
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Hiking

Solid trail, can be completed in sturdy sneakers or trail shoes. I recommend using the bike trail on the way up (the regular trail is a car access road). The trail is easy but the elevation will have you puffing a bit

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Pressy Sankaran
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Hiking

Beautiful view, but I wouldn’t classify this as hard by any stretch. No poles needed

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Denise Sanchez
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Hiking

Great trail with very minimal foot traffic. Dog friendly too.

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Gerhard Eschelbeck
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Hiking
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Brian McLaughlin
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Mountain biking

Tough climb, but great reward at the top and around the lake.

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John Kosich
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Hiking

This is a great out & back trail but be sure to get an early start in hot weather! Be aware that this is an 8 mile hike, not 5.8 miles.

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Trista Bailey
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HikingBugs

Great hike! Elevation change was rough but it didn’t hit us until we were done. First part was sunny and steep- loose dirt so made it bit challenging to come back down hill. This hill can be driven in a vehicle- which we actually would have preferred to drive and then hike the upper trails behind the lake. You will share this road with vehicles, mountain bikers, hikers, and joggers. We hiked at 6:00 in the morning and crossed paths with many others on our way down. This is a busy area! The lake on top is beautiful and shady. Tons and tons of mosquitos- left with 15 bites even after using bug repellent.

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Thomas Iida
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Hiking

Great trail and fairly steep on the way up.

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Steve Moran
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HikingSnow

First mile and a half pretty steep uphill climb and it is a road for most of it so easy. Lots of patches of snow for the last 3/4 mile. And snow pretty much all around the lake. But hiked it in running shoes and did have treking poles and the snow was not difficult. It was warm and the snow melting rapidly. It was a great first of the season hike with some altitude.

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sean mahoney
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HikingIcyMuddy

Nice trail, not too difficult other than the uphill for the first 2 miles. I went the first week of May so plenty of snow and wet ground to keep the dust down. It’s a dust owl in the summer. Several snow crossings but very easy to find the trail as it’s very wide and easy to navigate. Some great views over Donner Summit in Donner Lake. I will be doing it again soon with friends who like Moderat trails

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Barrett Park
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HikingRocky

First part is definitely an uphill challenge but we were looking for something like that. After 2 miles it flattens out and very pleasant trail hike. Quiet, peaceful and full of nature. Would highly recommend. Bring a water bottle!

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Michelle H
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Hiking

Quite challenging hike! The first 1.5ish miles are straight up and it’s hard. The next 1.5 miles isn’t too bad, mostly flat. A loop around the lake is 0.5 miles; it was a nice, relaxing lap around the lake. Start early to beat the summer heat!

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Jordan Greco
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Hiking

Good elevation gain. The lake at the top was pretty. The one downside of this hike is that it’s on an easement/access road and not a true trail, so it is trafficked by cars occasionally. Other than that, great hike that was fairly challenging!

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Ben Kane
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HikingBugsNo shade

Great hike, bring a bathing suit for the lake! It was hot and dusty, so bring plenty of water along. Also, my watch says this was a 8mi hike

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Z Oz
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Hiking

May hike. Lots of snow. Creeks, mud, hail.

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Todd Freitas
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OHV/Off-road driving

I drove about 2 miles up, I was short for time and wanted to hike a little. I hiked the road from then around summit lake about 1.8 miles.

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Deborah Lee
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Hiking

Uphill almost all the way. Well marked until you hit dusty Jeep road, then it isn’t. A loud motorcycle joined me for the dusty Jeep road part. Some parts of hike are lovely with great views of Donner Lake. I didn’t make it all the way to Summit Lake - too much dusty hot up up up. Some freeway noise for about half of hike.

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Kristen Gregory
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The actual trail, as opposed to the dirt road, is accessed from the trail head near the sign. The trail is far superior to the dirt road. Very nice views , gives a nice perspective on the local way points of the PCT -- Donner Peak, Anderson Peak, Tinker Knob. Will do this again!

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Danièle B
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Hiking

Almost all in the sun. Was a tad more difficult than moderate. I would suggest taking the bike trail verses this one

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Wendy U
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Hiking

Good workout, as the entire way to lake is uphill. Didn't care for dusty jeep roads to get there. Pretty exposed on the way up, so bring water, sunscreen, hat. Minor amounts of snow near the top on 6/30. Pretty lake. Lots of bugs in the shade, so wear bug repellent!

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Patricia Marinelli
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Hiking

we did it on 7/16. we hit snow at 6000ft the last 1/2 mile from summit lake. we were able to get to lake.

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Emily Linnell
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Still snowy when I did this hike on 5/28. Couldn't do the entire route because of the snow. I definitely want to return and do the entire hike.

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Nicole Sprague
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Origianlly my plan for this day was to do a hike to Azaleal Lake, but without snowshoes, it wasn't possible today. I ended up driving to Donner Memorial Park and walking the trails and beaches within the campground. There was no snow and the water was absolutely breathtaking. Can't wait to come back and enjoy the beach, lake, and streams in the summer. Very easy- no hills- more of a (beautiful) nature walk. The dogs loved playing in the water.

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Aaron Bertalmio
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Hiking
First to Review

pretty. But seems to be more popular with the mountain bikers. Trail can be confusing at times, as there are numerous junctions with other, old use trails. Summit lake is nice destination for a picnic. Trailhead is well marked off donner lake road. Follow metal stenciled signs to donner rim trail.

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Aaron Sumner
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Hiking
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