Date: Monday, August 3rd 2015
Type: Out & Back
Start/Finish: Donner Summit California State Snopark – click here for map.
Distance: 7.5 miles (options to run on to Mexico, or Canada for that matter)
Elevation: 1,136 ft
Special thanks: to Lesley Dellamonica for marking the trail & Jon Emis for always ensuring we all make it back to the trailhead!
Eight of us set off to run this Trail Teaser – if that’s what you can call it. Normally, the TT’s range from 3 to 5 miles. This one was 7.5 miles and could have been longer had we ventured all the way to Sugar Bowl. We turned around once we reached Old Highway 40 aka Donner Pass Road making it a 7.5 mile round trip run.
This run was an inaugural trail run for one of our new members, Beverly Tyrrell, and she rocked it! After years of road running and hiking, Beverly decided to combine the two and come out for this longer than average Trail Teaser. Way to be UNAFRAID!
Ok – back to the run…
The entire run was on the PCT and consisted of rolling hills and lots of single track. The skies were crystal clear for this run and temps were very pleasant, although I have to say that clouds make for much more dramatic pictures.
There are two very pretty ponds along this route – one at about .4 miles in and the second at about 2.6 miles from the trailhead. Good to know for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re running with dogs, this is a great spot for their hydration and a little cool off dip. It’s not great for dogs (or more like their parents) on the way back when they take a dip in the pond close to the trailhead and don’t quite have enough time to dry off but have plenty of time to get nice and muddy. Bring towels. Second, depending on the time of year, and time of day, the mosquitos can be ferocious around these bodies of water. Keep moving or wear repellant.
The views of Donner Lake, Old 40 and the surrounding expanse begin pretty early in this run and in all honesty, I lost track as I was chatting away and taking pictures, but sure enough – the views and topography are on par with the rest of our spectacular scenery. Little hint – our August 10th Trail Teaser will take advantage of the Train Tunnels pictured above.
There’s a lot of beautiful granite on this route and particularly close to the turnaround at Donner Summit. No surprise here given the whole summit is pretty much entirely made up of granite and thus a mecca for local rock climbers. Speaking of which – don’t be surprised if you hear lots of people yelling “BELAY ON!” and “CLIMBING” as you reach the summit.
Reaching the Summit you’ll see nearly 360 degree views of the area with only the granite immediately to the northwest obstructing the view. Cop a squat on the ledge, take in the views, have a sip of water and continue on to Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Mexico or turnaround and head back to the trailhead (we did the latter).