Donner Summit Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Donner Summit


Scenic Tahoe area bike climb starting at Donner Lake.

Explore this Climb

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Climb Summary

Cycling Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - Donner Lake, Hwy 40 - drone photo

Cycling Donner Summit (Donner Pass)

Donner Pass Road is bottom center of photo and Donner Lake top center.

Ride 3.2 miles gaining 1,117’ at 6.7% average grade.

Donner Summit Road (Hwy 40) + Donner Lake.  

California Top 10 Most Scenic Bike Climb

WOW!  This is an iconic and gorgeous climb out of Donner Lake near Lake Tahoe, California.  We begin in a cool and sweet smelling alpine setting at the western end of Donner Lake by riding up (you’ll know!) Donner Pass Road from its intersection with South Shore Drive.

Bike climb Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - sign at start of climb 

Start climb at the intersection of Donner Pass Road and South Shore Drive.

The pass is on Historic Highway 40 and gets its name from the ill-fated Donner Party which arrived at Donner Lake too late in the winter of 1846 to cross the Sierras.  This route was originally crossed by eastern settlers in 1844 with the assistance of Chief Truckee.

After being traversed by wagon trains in 1844, the pass was conquered by the Central Pacific Railroad 1868 after 3 continuous years of construction, primarily by Chineses laborers.

Bicycle climb Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - sign for China Wall and Railroad

Eastern end of Tunnel 6 and the China Wall.

Bicycling Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - Donner Lake, Hwy 80, Hwy 40, Rainbow Bridge

The 3 most interesting sites along this beautiful climb are:

Biking Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - John Johnson PJAMM Cycling with bike - donner lake in background

Views of Lake Donner to our east . . . and . . .

Climbing by bike Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - road, bike and railroad tunnel

Views of the long railroad tunnel to our south . . . and . . .


Cycling Donner Pass (Donner Summit) - bike and Donner Bridge

Climbing Donner Pass (Donner Summit) by bike - pjamm cyclist riding across Donner (Rainbow) Bridge

That’s a wrap!