Donner Pass Trail #926

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Trail Distance: 9 miles
Time Estimate: 4 hr 50 min
Elevation Gain: 2032 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Loop
Restroom: No
Description
The Donner Pass Trail begins in Buckhorn Canyon near Bellvue, within the Roosevelt National Forest's Donner Memorial State Park. There are several access locations, but the most popular is across from Donner Ski Ranch on Hwy 44 (Buckhorn Rd.) This trailhead features a scenic drive to get to the large parking lot, while others feature a sometimes lengthy walk in. There are no restrooms or water at the trailhead, so do come prepared with your own potable water and clean up bags.


This trail is referred to as a "loop" in most guides, but it is actually a lollipop shape, with a 6-mile in-and-out segment in the beginning, and a loop to follow that is about 3.4 miles. Some hikers and their fur-pups only walk the first segment because it's a gradual climb and easy, but those aiming to reach the summit of Lookout Mountain will continue on at the loop. This segment is very strenuous and confronts you with snow a good part of the year, plus ice, loose rocks and boulders up a very steep climb. The elevation change on the first segment is about 900 feet, but on the loop and summit side trail it's over 2000 feet.

The in-and-out portion of the Donner Pass Trail travels through a series of old railroad tunnels, making it unique as hikes go. Artistic graffiti covers every inch of the tunnel walls and is enjoyed by most hikers. Be sure to carry a flashlight or headlamp so you can see them and the trail below your feet. Scenic turnouts in the tunnels offer views of the surrounding area. For those who take on the summit trail, the views can only be described as furbulous and breathtaking. They take in Donner Lake, surrounding towns, and mountains and canyons for miles. It's a great spot to rest and have lunch with Fido.

For variety, this trail features a few small waterfalls and caves. On the less positive side, however, are the mosquitoes, so don't forget the bug repellant! Near the bottom of the loop, you will find petroglyphs that merit a look, and in spring and summer, abundant wildflowers provide an eye-popping show.

This is a rugged, multi-use trail that offers both relatively easy and challenging aspects. Whichever you choose, you will take pawsome memories with you when you leave.

Trail Features
Mountains, Lake, Forest, Steep Inclines, Rocky, Loose Terrain, Ice
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Waterfall, Scenic, Cave
Cautions & Considerations
While the first segment of this trail through old railroad tunnels is relatively flat and sheltered, the portion that forms a loop at the end is strenuous, so be prepared. Bring a flashlight or headlamp for the tunnels.
Address
Buckhorn Rd
Bellvue, CO 80512
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
Buckhorn Rd
Bellvue, CO 80512
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours