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The Truckee Donner Land Trust and its partners have completed significant improvements to the trail to the Black Wall climbing area, ensuring the trail stands up to winter storms and an increasing numbers of visitors.

Running in a horseshoe from Old Highway 40, along the foot of Black Wall's 400-foot granite cliffs and back down to the highway about a third of a mile later, the rugged Black Wall Trail climbs steeply over granite talus slopes, following Donner Summit's topography.

The route was originally set by climbers, who have been scaling the wall since the 1970s. Working with the Access Fund Conservation Team West, American Conservation Experience and numerous volunteers, Land Trust staff and volunteers have invested many hours this summer working to make the trail more sustainable, reducing erosion and shoring up defenses against winter weather.

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The Access Fund Conservation Team West and volunteers in front of Black Wall this summer.

The Black Wall Trail is more rugged than a typical Land Trust trail due to the terrain, but is a worthwhile quick trip for adventurous climbers and hikers alike – offering great views over Donner Lake and beyond. Look and listen carefully: it's not unusual to spot or hear the cries of nesting peregrine falcons high up on the cliff. (The Land Trust protects hatchlings each spring with a climbing moratorium on routes around the nests.)

The Land Trust purchased Black Wall in 2015, and has been working to accommodate the growing popularity of rock climbing on Donner Summit since. 

Top image credit: Sam Okamoto

Greyson Howard