Type: Out & Back
Start/Finish: Donner Summit California State Snopark – click here for map
Distance: 7.5 miles (options to run on to Mexico, or Canada for that matter)
Elevation: 1,136 ft
Special Equipment: Compact towel if running with dogs. Mosquito repellent.
This entire route is run on the PCT and consists of rolling hills and lots of single track. There are two very pretty ponds along this route – one at about 0.4 miles in and the second at about 2.6 miles from the trailhead. Good to know for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re running with dogs, this is a great spot for their hydration and a little cool off dip. It’s not great for dogs (or more like their parents) on the way back when they take a dip in the pond close to the trailhead and don’t quite have enough time to dry off but have plenty of time to get nice and muddy. Bring towels. Second, depending on the time of year, and time of day, the mosquitoes can be ferocious around these bodies of water. Keep moving and/or wear repellent.
The views of Donner Lake, Old 40 and the surrounding expanse begin pretty early on the route and optical delights and topography are on par with the rest of Tahoe’s spectacular scenery.
There’s a lot of beautiful granite on this route and particularly close to the turnaround at Donner Summit. No surprise here given the summit is almost entirely made up of granite and is a mecca for local rock climbers. Speaking of which – don’t be surprised if you hear lots of people yelling “BELAY ON!” and “CLIMBING” as you reach the summit.
Reaching the Summit you’ll see nearly 360-degree views of the area with only the granite immediately to the northwest obstructing the view. Cop a squat on the ledge, take in the views, have a sip of water and continue on to Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Mexico, or turn around and head back to the trailhead.
Click the links below or stop by Tahoe Mountain Sports
in Truckee for more local trail information!
This trail review was written by Tahoe Mountain Sports Ambassador Mone Haen.
Mone Haen is a Truckee-based ultrarunner and regular TMS contributor