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blueBlack DLRT (Donner Lake Rim Trail) Castle Valley to Donner Ridge

  4.3 ( 23 )

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8.3 mile 13.3 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,222' 373 m
Descent: -1,008' -307 m
High: 7,694' 2,345 m
Low: 6,891' 2,100 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 18% (10°)


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Trail shared by Paul Rogers

An absolute work of Art!

Paul Rogers

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-

Only rideable once the snow pack has melted.


A seriously well-crafted trail. The DLRT, when completed, will circumnavigate the high country around Donner Lake. A 23 mile loop is planned, about 9 sweet miles are open to bikes so far. Enjoy!

Need to Know

This trail can be shuttled several different ways. For mostly downhill fun, start at castle valley (TH) and end with the shuttle at Wendin Way Access Trail. For a fun long ride, start at Castle Valley (TH) and end with the shuttle in Truckee (Tahoe Donner) and combine Hidden Gem and Motherlode. My favorite is a crusher: combine DLRT with Emigrant Trail , and if you are sick in the head, do Hidden Gem and Motherlode along the way...


Starting at Castle Valley Trailhead, head up the fireroad the same as you would for Hole in the Ground. Before Hole in the Ground trail, there is a right turn after a rock garden on doubletrack. Stay on the doubletrack, cross over the PCT (no bikes), and the summit trail (no bikes). At 1.2 miles, the DLRT starts to your right. Soon after, the granite garden begins - it's one of the best sections of trail featuring great vistas of the Donner area.

At the 3 mile mark you'll be at summit lake. From here, there is a faint trail around the lake and several cool perches for a snack break. Start on doubletrack at the lake and follow it up and over a small hill. Then head downhill toward Truckee for a wicked descent. Keep an eye out for a short climb to the left at about the 4.4 mile mark, the singletrack picks back up on an exposed hillside. You'll pop out on a doubletrack again for a short climb, then back onto trail on the right.

After crossing a bridge, you'll arrive at an intersection with Wendin Way Access Trail. Left continues up to the ridge, right takes you down to the trailhead. Once up a short grunt of a climb, you are on the ridge and in Tahoe Donner area. From there, you can take DLRT on a fast plunge down to the "bench" or delve into the Donner trails, the possibilities are endless. The DLRT also functions as a great out-and-back. Head back the way you came! Its ALL good...

History & Background

Very rich history in this area:
GOOGLE: Immigrant trail, Donner Party, Gold rush.


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Oct 6, 2018
Out and back. Got snowed on! Definitely not as good as HITG 17mi — 3h 00m
Aug 14, 2018
Overrated imo. Close to freeway, decent chunk of descending on fire road and the final descent is one that is just like many other 'ok' trails.
Jul 14, 2018
stephen fullerton
did an out and back run on this. really enjoyed it and would make it a regular ride if I lived closer 15mi
Jul 13, 2018
tom wojciechowski
Jul 7, 2018
Peter Hanbury
Oct 28, 2017
Andy Mac
Went back to house. Awesome ride
Oct 14, 2017
Jeani Mangrum
Sep 17, 2017
Andy DeFazio

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 23 votes


in Soda Springs


  4.3 from 23 votes
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This trail should NOT be listed as a shuttle ride. It's a great out and back from the lower parking lot (start from the end that is listed here). NO reason to shuttle this. The up is nothing too difficult to ride. Sep 16, 2017
Paul Rogers
This reviewer failed to notice that i did state it is an excellent out-and-back trail, already. If there is something you have against shuttling, start a blog, go yell at a downhiller, whatever. But don't knock people of all abilities that may chose other options. For some people the shuttle option is the only way they can do it physically, maybe not you because your so superior, but that doesn't mean you need to impose your will on people(by using CAPS) and assume I am giving away some secret to the DH community, get a life dude...... Apr 2, 2018
Thanks Paul for mentioning the shuttle options here. I intend on riding this with my 8 year old in August - he's fine on rocky downhills, but uphills at altitude are painful for kiddos, so any shuttle options will be taken advantage of... Jun 12, 2018

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