Hike of the month: Donner Lake Rim Trail from Johnson Canyon

Monday, November 13, 2017 - 12:15pm

On cold fall days that seem to be accompanied by a bone chilling east wind, we head to south facing trails with sun.  And few are as accessible or as much fun as the Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT) through Johnson Canyon.

Start up Wendin Way Trail (named for founding Land Trust Board member Dan Wendin) accessed directly from the Donner Lake Exit on Interstate 80. It’s 1.2 miles with 500’ of elevation gain to the DLRT. From the junction, it’s another 2 miles heading west (left turn) on the DLRT to Summit Lake, where you can catch the Warren Lake Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading east (right turn) on the DLRT takes you to the Drifter Hut and Glacier Point trailhead in the Tahoe Donner trail network. Both trails are scenic with knock-your-socks off views of the Sierra Crest.

Truckee Donner Land Trust purchased 280 acres in Johnson Canyon in 2006.  The canyon had been slated for an estate subdivision (the plans are still available in the Land Trust’s World HQ.) 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 from development. 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).

It’s a pretty special, cool and cool place, equally popular with hikers, runners, and mountain bikers, right at Truckee’s doorstep.

*Photo by Susan Johnson