Public access secured for iconic backcountry ski route Donner Lake Run |

Public access secured for iconic backcountry ski route Donner Lake Run

Submitted to the Sierra Sun
Donner Peak and Trestle Peak with ski tracks visible on the Lake Run.
Photo by Trey Steinhart/

One of the region’s most popular backcountry ski tours — the Lake Run descending from Mt. Judah to Donner Lake — will no longer be dogged by parking and access issues thanks to an agreement between the Donner Lake Woods Homeowner Association, Tahoe Backcountry Alliance, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, according to a news release.

For decades, backcountry skiers and snowboarders have descended the slopes of Mt. Judah, Donner and Trestle Peaks near Sugar Bowl Resort concluding their runs in neighborhoods on the west end of Donner Lake. A lack of available public parking in the area combined with the seasonal on-street parking closure through the winter months left skiers and snowboarders without legal parking. This also left skiers passing through private property and annoying homeowners. The problem was growing and seemingly at an impasse.

The Donner Lake Woods Homeowners Association on Jan. 19 decided to lease a vacant lot at the base of the run on Washoe Road to the Truckee Donner Land Trust for $1 a year to serve as public parking for backcountry skiers and snowboarders, alleviating the issues of parking and trespass. Plowing will be covered by the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance. The homeowner association and nonprofits were brought together by Truckee Mayor Dave Polivy.

“This is a precedent-setting collaboration to ensure public access to the world-class backcountry recreation our community is known for,” said Polivy, who also owns Tahoe Mountain Sports. “I am thrilled we were able to arrive at a win-win solution for all parties.”

“We are excited to have found a solution that will not only help our homeowners but also the backcountry enthusiasts who have enjoyed the Lake Run for so many years. Working together we have the opportunity to strengthen our relationship and create an environment of mutual respect for our shared community,” said Rose Cortopassi, president of the Donner Lake Woods Homeowners Association.

“We’ve spent years looking at multiple alternatives, including Donner Summit Canyon that the Land Trust conserved in 2010, to secure access to the Lake Run,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Land Trust. “Our solution of this access issue would not have happened without the Donner Lake Woods Homeowner Association and a strong assist from the Town.”

According to the release, the agreement follows in the footsteps of similar Land Trust deals to protect key recreational amenities such as the Castle Valley trailhead for Hole in the Ground Trail, Donner Lake Rim Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and Black Wall, a popular climbing area on Donner Summit.

Likewise, Tahoe Backcountry Alliance has been working to secure access for human-powered backcountry recreation throughout the region, including recently launching a pilot micro-transit shuttle designed to alleviate parking issues at popular backcountry ski runs on Tahoe’s west shore.

“We are really happy to be able to facilitate public land access while mitigating any negative impacts to the homeowners,” said Greg Garrison, a board member of the Alliance. “This will keep homeowners happy and keep skiers from getting ticketed or towed.”

Information on the where backcountry skiers and snowboarders should park will be available on and, and signage will be installed on the lot.

Source: Truckee Donner Land Trust and Tahoe Backcountry Alliance

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