Hike Donner Summit Canyon with Truckee Donner Land Trust

Donner Summit Canyon

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9:00 am - 2:00 pm
August 22nd, 2020
Meet at Donner Summit Canyon Trailhead

Hike Description

The Truckee Donner Land Trust invites you to hike with us on the trail that loosely follows the original Lincoln Highway route. The route traverses Donner Summit Creek, Donner Peak, and Schallenberger Ridge as it climbs to Donner Summit. You can picnic at the Kathy Polucha Kessler Memorial Picnic Area with an amazing view of Donner Lake. You can marvel at the Native American Petroglyphs as you approach the summit (Please don’t step on them!). You can watch rock climbers near China Wall. You can relax at the lower picnic area. You can count tadpoles in the Beaver Pond.

A trail up the canyon follows much of the old Dutch Flat/Donner Lake Wagon Road, which later served as the Lincoln Highway. Some of the historic features visible from the upper part of the trail include Native American petroglyphs, the China Wall, and the world’s first automobile underpass (1913). Look for the abandoned Turkey Truck that careened off the road in 1955, scattering 30,000 pounds of frozen turkeys down the 175’ drop and delaying Thanksgiving dinner for hungry Nevadans!


Hike Details

Enjoy a docent-led, 6+ mile round-trip hike with a 1,000’ elevation gain; moderately strenuous due to uneven terrain and moderate to steep ascents.


Hike Location

From Truckee, proceed West on Donner Pass Road along the North Shore of Donner Lake. As you approach the West end of Donner Lake, go past South Shore Drive and continue up along Old Highway 40 towards Donner Summit. The trail head and parking area is on the left, roughly 1/3 of a mile from South Shore Drive (If you reach the winter closure gate, you have gone too far).