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Territorial Dispatch

YSAC Presents Guided Truckee Tunnel Trek and Outdoor Art Experience

Jun 05, 2024 04:39PM ● By Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture News Release

Here is a view of Donner Lake from Truckee Tunnels. Photo courtesy of Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture


MARYSVILLE, CA (MPG) - It’s time again for another free outdoor adventure and art experience with a reprieve of last summer’s trip to Donner Summit to hike the Truckee Tunnels trail.  The trip is scheduled for Saturday, June 15 from 8 to 4 p.m. Thanks to an Outdoor Equity Program grant from the CA Department of Parks and Recreation, Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture has been conducting these free monthly adventures for the past eighteen months.

The starting point is Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture’s building at 624 E Street in Marysville at 8 a.m. on June 15. Individuals preferring to drive their own vehicles can meet the bus at the Donner Ski Ranch at 19320 Donner Pass Road in Norden at 10:30 and join the caravan to the trailhead from there. The group will hike the two miles of tunnels and break for lunch before tackling the return hike. It is recommended to wear waterproof hiking boots, bring water and a sack lunch, and a flashlight, headlamp or fully charged cell phone with a light. The group will return to the trailhead at approximately 2 p.m. for the return trip to Marysville by 4 p.m.

Truckee Train Tunnel

 The Truckee Train Tunnel is a marvelous sight for visitors. Photo courtesy of Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture


More than 150 years ago, thousands of Chinese laborers bored through solid granite to construct miles of railroad tunnels on Donner Summit, an astonishing engineering feat and a crucial link in the Transcontinental Railroad. The Tahoe Tunnel Trek is an easy out, and back, four-mile round trip hike along an abandoned train track at Donner Summit.  The footing is tricky as there is gravel from the train rail bed mixed with large boulders that have fallen from the tunnels and puddles from melting snow. Most of the hike is through a series of tunnels so be prepared for darkness, dripping water, the sound of bats and cool temperatures. Many of the inside walls of the tunnels are covered with graffiti. Please be aware that some of the spray-painted words may be inappropriate for younger hikers. There are occasional openings in the tunnels where hikers will enjoy stunning views of Donner Lake.

The art activity for this hike will be a little different than other hikes. Participants can find inspiration from the informal graffiti artwork located on the walls of the tunnels and create their own spray painted, graffiti-style souvenir T-shirt to take home. Shirts and all paint supplies as well as how-to instructions will be provided. Snacks and extra water will be available at the start and finish of the hike. Again, transportation and all supplies are provided free of charge.

As always, there will be an embedded artist and scientist/naturalist with the group to answer questions and to guide you as you explore this unique part of the Sierra Nevada. If you have questions or concerns, please call Anna Newman (956-525-2031) for further information. The trip is limited to 52 participants. Pre-registration is a must at yubasutterarts.org or call 530-742-2787.

The trip is free, but there is a $20 registration fee for all participants which will be refunded during check in the day of the event.

Summit Tunnel Donner Pass

 The Summit Tunnel at Donner Pass is a historic sight. Photo courtesy of Yuba Sutter Arts & Culture


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