• Caitlin McAninch

Escape Through the Train Tunnels



I’m not a big hiker. I love to walk to beautiful places and look at the outdoors. But, super hard, steep hikes are not my favorite. That is why the Donner Train Tunnels is one of my most favorite hikes in the area. Just atop Donner Lake are old abandoned train tunnels that are covered in graffiti, and amazing to see!


When the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads merged in the mid-1990s, a portion of the railroad line near Donner Summit was abandoned and the tracks and ties were removed. But, the tunnels that were built decades ago still remain.

Artists now fill the inside and outside of the tunnels with graffiti. It’s truly incredible!


This past weekend while my Godmother and her son were in town, we took them through the tunnels. They too fell in love with this unique place.


I think I read that the to start at the beginning and walk through the tunnels to the end is three miles. When we arrived at the end, we saw a way to get on top of the tunnels and we thought that would be an awesome way to walk back. Little did we know, there’s no safe way to get down on back at the beginning. So we ended up backtracking again. So if that three miles is accurate, we ended up going 12 miles. To the end in the tunnels, to the beginning on top of the tunnels, to the end on top of the tunnels, to the beginning in the tunnels. But no worries, it’s all flat, and all gorgeous! Look at these pictures from the top of the tunnels:



If you want to see some serious cool art and just enjoy a beautiful afternoon outside around Donner Lake, I definitely recommend this hike!


Here's a map: the purple dot is right about where the tunnels start!


Have you been to the abandoned train tunnels at Donner Lake? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Donner Train Tunnels

Distance: 39.3 miless

Driving Time: 44 minutes

#Activities #California