In 2006, the Land Trust acquired 280 acres in Johnson Canyon (also known as Negro Canyon). Johnson Canyon is the headwaters for Gregory Creek, an important tributary of Donner Lake. The property is located immediately north of Interstate 80 at the Donner Lake Exit. As part of the Royal Gorge acquisition in 2012, the Land Trust acquired an additional 350 acres in the canyon, effectively protecting the entire canyon. The canyon is a key deer migration corridor, home to four species of birds listed as protected by state or federal programs, rich in wildlife, as well as providing direct access to the Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT). Please see the DLRT map for the location of Johnson Canyon.
The Wendin Way Trail through Johnson Canyon, accessed directly from the Donner Lake Exit on Interstate 80, provides an incredibly scenic route for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers to connect with the Donner Lake Rim Trail. Johnson Canyon is one of the most popular winter trailheads in the area. In addition, the canyon is a popular area for wildlife and wildflower viewing.
What to Do There
The distance along the Wendin Way access trail to its junction with the DLRT is about 1.2 miles, and the elevation gain is about 500 feet. Heading west on the DLRT provides access to Summit Lake, the Warren Lake Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading east on the DLRT takes you to the Glacier Point trailhead in the Tahoe Donner subdivision.
How to Get There
Take the Donner Lake Exit on Interstate 80, about halfway between Donner Summit and Truckee. At the bottom of the off ramp, head north (uphill) about 300 yards to the trailhead where there is a large parking area and kiosks with a map of the area and background information.
Rules, Regulations and Good to Know
- Johnson Canyon is closed to all kinds of overnight camping
- Motor vehicles must remain on Summit Lake Road and Euer Valley Road
- Pack out all trash, including pet waste
- Do not leave bagged pet waste anywhere on the property
- Dogs must be under voice command
- No fires, smoking, or open flames of any kind are allowed
Johnson Canyon is one of three properties, plus the Donner Lake Rim Trail, in the Donner Summit area: