The Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT) is a project of the Truckee Donner Land Trust to build a multi-use dirt trail encircling the peaks around Donner Lake. This 12.35-mile lollypop route takes you past Summit Lake to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and back to the DLRT via the Summit Lake trail.
- Fun, generally runnable trail
- Summit Lake views and cool granite features
- Quick access from Truckee
But watch out for:
- Moderately heavy use during peak season
- Road noise from I-80
From downtown Truckee, go 5.5 miles west on Interstate 80 to Donner Lake exit 180. Go down the ramp (but not under the freeway) and take the only right turn to the trailhead. There is dirt parking as well as paved options along the road; no restrooms.
General Directions: Take the DLRT west about 6 miles from the trailhead to where the PCT crosses the dirt road at an unmarked intersection. Turn left on the PCT and follow it to the Summit Lake Trail. Take the Summit Lake Trail back to the DLRT; turn right and go back the way you came.
Turn-by-turn Directions: (mileage approximated according to my Garmin watch):
- From trailhead, take Wendin Way Access Trail to DLRT
- 1.1 miles: Turn left onto DLRT; follow sign toward Summit lake
- 1.25 miles: Turn left on dirt road to stay on the DLRT
- 1.4 miles: Turn right on single track to stay on the DLRT
- 2.5 miles: Turn right on dirt road to stay on DLRT
- 3.2 miles: Turn right up dirt road to stay on DLRT
- 3.75 miles: Trail passes Summit Lake
- 4.15 miles: Go straight at this big single track intersection to stay on the DLRT. You will return to this intersection via the Summit Lake Trail
- 5.75 miles: Turn left on dirt road to stay on DLRT
- 5.9 miles: The PCT sneaks across the dirt road completely unmarked. Take a left on the PCT to head east.
- 6.25 miles: Keep left to stay on the PCT. (The right spur goes to Castlr Peak trailhead.
- 7 miles: West Lake and Interstate 80 are visible (and audible) to the right. Shortly thereafter, the trail passes directly behind the I-80 Donner Summit Rest Area (water and restrooms).
- 7.25 miles: Leave the PCT here and follow the sign for Summit Lake. (The PCT passed under I80 via two pedestrian tunnels if you take the trail to the right.)
- 8.1 miles: Return to the big single track intersection and take the DLRT to the right toward Summit Lake.
- 9.8 miles: Go left up a steep dirt road to stay on the DLRT; continue left onto the singletrack
- 11.25 miles: Turn right onto the Wendin Way Access trail to return to the trailhead.
- 12.35 miles: Finish
Turn around at Summit Lake for a 7.5-mile out-and-back.