‘Lollipop tree’ on Shallenberger Ridge a good snowshoe adventure
Running on Snow
When I first started snowshoeing, many of my runs and explorations were in Coldstream Canyon. It’s a great place to snowshoe. The opportunities are endless and there is usually plenty of parking.
And back when I started, snowshoeing wasn’t always about the run. More often it was about discovery. I’ve discovered many hidden gems in this canyon. I want to share the lollipop tree snowshoe.
We’ve all seen it, driving down Interstate 80 and looking off to the right you see that lone tree with a funny tuft at the top. It sits on Shallenberger Ridge. I’ve always known it to be called the lollipop tree. I’m sure there are other names, but I like this one; it disguises the difficulty of the trek in its name.
There’s no real route up this ridge. Sometimes someone will get up there on snowshoes, but often you’ll be forging your own trail. To get there you’ll need to be aware of your surroundings and have a good sense of direction.
Don’t let that discourage you. I took a group of teachers of from the Bay Area up this trek one year (later to be referred to as “the crazy snowshoe guy’s death march”) and they all made it to the tree and had a great time in the process.
When you park down the road from the 76 gas station, you’ll begin by snowshoeing about a half-mile up the road. The road has a small climb in it, and once you reach the top of this small climb, look to the right. You’ll see the ridge shoots up. Go that way.
Although there’s no real edge, try to follow the edge of the ridge with Donner State Park off to your right. About another half-mile and you’ll hit what appears to be a road that is the train tunnel maintenance road. Keep going up. You’ve only got another quarter-mile to the tree.
Very quickly you’ll pop beyond the trees and be able to look down on Donner Lake. The grade eases and the tree comes into sight. I like to keep going along the ridge, but for a first run keep it short so you familiarize yourself with the area.
Once at the tree, the fun begins. Point your snowshoe towards the lake and head down with all your might. You wont move fast, but it will be fun. The first pitch will be quick and drop you right at the train tracks with the tunnel off to your right. Watch out for trains. Keep heading down.
The terrain gets tighter and steeper at points. Keep pushing forward. You’ll quickly find yourself at the bottom and in the park. Turn right and work your way back to the car. This really is a lot of fun.
The downhill – even on snowshoes – is worth the trek up. Have fun. Bring a friend and a dog. The dogs love this trip.
– Peter Fain is a Truckee resident and 2009 National Snowshoe Champion. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
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