Sierra hikes: Truckee Trails Challenge perfect excuse to get on Truckee’s trails |

Sierra hikes: Truckee Trails Challenge perfect excuse to get on Truckee’s trails

Safer access to Truckee, additional recreation facilities and a higher quality of life — these are just some of the benefits offered by the Truckee River Legacy Trail.
Margaret Moran / Sierra Sun |

Take the challenge

Donner Camp Trail: A short, and easy interpretative trail providing a glimpse of what the Donner Party endured in the winter of 1846-47.

Martis Creek Trail (Tompkins Memorial Trail): A 4-mile round trip over mostly level terrain circling Martis Valley and passing Martis Creek.

Donner Lake Loop: The seven mile paved loop around Donner Lake. Mostly level with a short, steep climb on the south side of the lake. A great bike route.

Truckee River Legacy Trail: The primary paved bike path in Truckee, popular with walkers, strollers, skaters, dogs, and bicyclists. The 10-mile round trip follows the Truckee River gently from downtown Truckee to Glenshire.

Nature Trail at Donner Memorial State Park: This short, level nature trail along Donner Creek provides information on the Donner Party history and flora and fauna of the area.

Donner Summit Canyon: One of Truckee’s newest trails heads from near the bottom of Highway 40 to the top of Donner Pass and the Pacific Crest Trail. It is moderately strenuous with rocky terrain and a few steep ascents.

Pacific Crest Trail: The popular five mile section of the PCT between Highway 40 and Interstate 80 takes you past beautiful views of Donner Lake as well as granite cliffs popular with rock climbers.

Visit" target="_blank">Bold"> for directions to all of the trailheads and to sign up for the challenge.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — While Lake Tahoe might get all the kudos, the Truckee-Donner Summit region is packed with a variety of terrific trails for hikers and bikers.

The Truckee Trails Foundation and the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District is providing a little motivation to get out there and explore those trails by introducing the Truckee Trails Challenge.

The challenge is simple: Hike or ride four of seven recommended trails, and return your completed challenge application to the TDRPD main office to claim your free T-shirt (available for the first 100 successful challengers).

“It was something we have been thinking about for a number of years,” says Truckee Trails Foundation Director Allison Pedley.

She hopes that people who already use the trails regularly may be introduced to some new trails they are not aware of — “but really, it is targeted toward people who don’t know we have this phenomenal trail system, we want to get them using the trails.”

Janet Zipster Zipkin is one person who’s taking on the challenge and enjoying it.

“I really like the variety. I went up to Donner Summit birding, rode the Legacy trail this morning,” says Zipster Zipkin. “I like to walk the Thompkins Trail in early season before the snow melts higher up. It’s just fun, and it’s all within a 15 minute drive from anywhere in Truckee.”

TDPRD Marketing Manager Kyle Jost says, “It’s a good activity for families and people visiting us. For all ages and abilities. You can bike on some, walk on some. It’s open to everyone.”

The trails cover the gamut of difficulty from very short and easy interpretative trails, to strenuous climbs to the top of Donner Pass.

Increasing knowledge and love of the Truckee trails is part of the focus of the effort.

“Our ultimate goal is to get trails and neighborhoods connected, to expand into western Nevada County and into the Sierra Buttes,” said Pedley, adding that the foundation is getting the word out not only on how good the trails are, but how the network can be improved in the future.

Beth Villa, a Truckee second-home owner, says she “used the challenge as an excuse to get my daughter to go out hiking and biking with just me.”

“The prize at the end helped with the motivation. We had a lot of fun exploring new trails and I cherish the quality time we spent together,” she said. “The bonus was when my niece joined us for the last week of vacation and my eight year old insisted that we hike extra trails in order for her to be able to get a shirt too.

“We are looking forward to doing it again next summer!”

Tim Hauserman, a nearly lifelong resident of Tahoe City, is a freelance author and cross-country ski instructor. He wrote the official guidebook to the Tahoe Rim Trail, now in it’s third edition, as well as Monsters in the Woods: Backpacking with Children. He may be reached at

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