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28 Jul 2020
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Summer in Tahoe
Hike Donner Lake Rim Trail
Hike Donner Lake Rim Trail

Looking for a new trail to hike around the Truckee region? I found one recently that is certainly worth a look: It’s a four mile segment of the Donner Lake Rim Trail that was completed last year. The new section goes from Northwoods Blvd., at the edge of Tahoe Donner, to a connection with the Glacier Way connector trail, which enables a ten mile point to point hike to the Wendin Way trailhead at Interstate 80 above Donner Lake. The trail dishes out a steady climb, before a big descent, and passes spectacular views of Donner Lake and the Pacific Crest.

The trail begins across Northwoods Blvd. from the Trout Creek Bike Trail parking lot. Be careful crossing very busy Northwoods Blvd. It winds next to the Donner Crest housing development, and then heads into a forest of Jeffrey and white fir on a long traverse to the west passing several panoramic views of Donner Lake, as well as magnificent views of the Pacific Crest ridgeline between Donner Summit and Squaw Valley.

About 4.5 miles in, the trail starts heading north, following the open ridgeline high above lovely Johnson Canyon to Tahoe Donner Cross Country’s Drifter Hut. From there, the Donner Lake Rim Trail starts a steep descent on a series of switchbacks into the canyon, where it meets the Wendin Way connector .Then, it’s just another mile of more gentle descent to the trailhead just above the Donner Lake exit of Interstate 80.

Looking for more? You could also continue on the DLRT past Summit Lake and to the top of Donner Summit. With this new addition the northern half of the DLRT is nearly complete. The next project to complete the trail will include construction on the Schallenberger Ridge south of Donner Lake. Want to become involved with the construction go to .Interested in a more detailed description of this new trail segment go to

What to know: There is no water on the trail until just a mile or so before the finish in Johnson Canyon, plan accordingly for you and your dog. The trail was designed for mountain bikers, which makes for a pleasant grade to hike, but be aware, the trail is quite popular with mountain bikers. The route is perfect for a car shuttle, with the two trailheads only about five miles apart.