Volunteers labor on Donner Rim Trail | SierraSun.com

Volunteers labor on Donner Rim Trail

A small but hard-working group of volunteers is leaving its mark on history while making the Truckee area a more enjoyable place to live.

Eight of those volunteers made their way up the rough roads of Negro Canyon last weekend to continue their work on the Donner Lake Rim Trail. The trail eventually will be 22 miles long and will lead hikers, bicyclists and equestrians around the lake with a breathtaking view every step along the way. That day, however, is still a few years away.

The group is in its third year of working on the trail. They spend two weekends a month during the summer clearing brush, removing rocks and moving dirt. On a good day last year, they built 700 feet of trail. That’s a pretty fast pace, but with 22 miles to build, the group has a long way to go and is looking for some help from the public.

“We would love to see civic groups or individuals volunteer some of their time,” local volunteer Craig Close said. “The trail would be for the public’s use so we’d like to see the public get involved.”

Close has been involved in the project from the very beginning, since he was approached three years ago by Hal Parker.

As an avid hiker himself, Parker said he has made good use of nature trails throughout his life and thought it was time to give something back. Parker has hiked the entire length of California and into Oregon and this summer plans to hike parts of Washington. The idea to build the Donner Rim Trail first came to Parker in 1991. Before long he had several people on board and the group approached the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

“That was the best thing we ever did,” Parker said. “These people just jumped right in and have done a great job.”

After several years of planning, the volunteers began the hard labor in the summer of 1996. With help from Karl Knapp and David Hoffman of the California State Park System, the trail began to take shape. The volunteers quickly found out that there’s more to building a trail than just clearing a path.

“We’re keeping the trail about four feet wide throughout because we want it to be a multi-use trail for everyone from hikers to bicyclists,” Close said. “And our goal is to make sure that it has no more than a 10 percent slope anywhere so the water will drain properly and it won’t erode.”

Although it will be several years before the project is completed, Parker is already looking forward to being among the first to make the hike.

“It’s beautiful up here isn’t it.” he said. “It’s going to be a great trail when we get it done.”

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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