Take a hike through Summit Canyon, Pacific Crest Trail + Johnson Canyon.

Trailhead + Car Shuttle:

Drive under I-80 and down the hill to Donner Pass Road. Turn right and go up hill at the end of Donner Lake. Look for the TDLT trailhead kiosk on the left.

This hike requires a car shuttle, but the beginning and ending are only 2.5 miles apart on opposite sides of I80, so much more easily coordinated than other one-way hikes. 

Leave a car at the end of the hike at the Johnson Canyon Trailhead on Wendin Way.

From downtown Truckee, follow I-80 East to the Donner Lake Exit. At the end of the exit, look for Wendin Way and the TDLT trailhead. Leave your car and hop back in the drop-off car.

The 13 Mile Hike:

Follow the Summit Canyon trail up the canyon to Donner Summit. You’ll have plenty to look at while you’re walking uphill: views galore, petroglyphs, Rainbow Bridge, relics of the original continental railroad, and the roadbed for the earlier Route 40.

Pick up the Pacific Crest Trail immediately across Donner Pass Road from Sugar Bowl Academy’s parking lot once you achieve the Summit. After a couple hundred yards, you’ll find many likely places for a picnic on a rock overlooking Donner Lake and you’ll be able to watch many climbers in this rock-climbing mecca. Follow the PCT about 3 miles until you cross under I80. Shortly, you will connect with the Donner Lake Rim Trail. Turn right to Summit Lake and down the hill via Johnson Canyon back to your car.

Be sure to take pictures of the fall foliage as the chokeberries turn color!

A couple notes:

Dogs are allowed on this section of the Pacific Crest Trail, but mountain bikes are not. If you’re on your bike, go for the Johnson Canyon ride up and down. You’ll enjoy much cooler temperatures than the middle of summer, making this protected ride in a canyon a wonderful choice. Johnson Canyon was formerly called Negro Canyon – many long-time Truckee residents might use that name. Keep in mind that early October is deer hunting season around the area.

Sound complicated?

Give us a call to go over the directions: (530) 582-4711.

For more information about Johnson Canyon:

 Go to www.tdlandtrust.org/johnson-canyon

Greyson Howard