The abandoned tunnels (Summit Tunnel) at Donner pass is a really fun area for an easy hike. Kids could spend days here exploring. Kai was quite enamored with this place as there are old train tracks with tunnels, creeks to cross, rocks to hop over, and beautiful view for everyone.
The first part is uphill over some rocks, but once you hit the fire road it's a easy, flat walk. It had to be, as it's an old railroad track. The tunnels are covered in graffiti... and I don't really condone this type of behavior, but some of it is really well done. And at some point it becomes art right? And it's inside a tunnel... it's not really "natural" anymore...
The lighting inside the tunnels requires a nice DSLR to capture. Then every once in a while the tunnels open up to a beautiful view.
The tracks were first used in June 18, 1868 until 1993 when Southern Pacific pulled up the 6.7 mile section of Track #1 over the summit. This line was replaced by the longer, "Mt. Judah Tunnel" in 1925.
Oh, and I think it's officially off limits. So don't go there. Or at least plead ignorance.
Lots of info online... here are some of the more useful links:
- good suggestion for a short loop hike... http://onthesummit.net/wordpress/activities/trails/donner-pass-history/
|LOTs of graffiti in the tunnels... some folks spent a long time back here...|
|Kai heading towards the beam of light|
|Kai turned into an angel!|
|There are some openings in the tunnel so you can get a view of Donner Lake below|
|The first opening...|
|tunnel pano... tough lighting for panos|
|we turned around at the second opening... perhaps .5 miles into the tunnel, but folks ride their bike through here all the way to Donner Lake. Pretty flat, and probably a bit boring, but would be a novel ride.|
|Looking back at our Schmienna...|
|Some petryglyphs at the Trailhead|
|Kai showing off his bouldering skills as he wanted to read the Petroglyph sign "by HIMSELF!"|
|after the hiking we drove down for 5 min to Donner Lake... the beach itself was waay too windy, so we went to the beach by the creek....|
Where it was naked playtime for the boys, and down beach time for Kimbo.