While walking up to the Donner Train Tunnels from where we parked we were perplexed as to why there were perfectly manicured rock trails seemingly where there should not be any. We started poking around and realized we had walked right past some pretty epic petroglyphs. I say pretty epic because there aren’t a whole lot of them around this area. Apparently the area was knows as a region where various groups of American Indian groups would gather and trade. The petroglyphs were thought to have noted the meeting spots with meaningful images.
Donner Railroad Caves
Donner Train Tunnels
The Donner Train tunnels are a fun day trip from Sacramento. Located near Donner Ski Ranch one can hike through one tunnel or all of the tunnels for about an eight to nine mile trek if you go the distance. It gets pretty damp, dark and cold so be prepared. Last year we went and everything was covered in snow and ice with monstrous ice cycles. This year we managed to visit right before Halloween and before the first real snow of the season. Lots of art can be seen although none too noteworthy. I found the patterns of the ceilings to be interesting and the tunnel lighting to be fun. This was a great socially distant COVID day trip/hike.
A visit to the old Donner railroad tunnels, up in Sierra snow country, proved colder and icier than we expected. I visited here once a long time ago and hiked through all the tunnels to the end. At the time I was blown away that the tunnels even existed, that people could walk through them, and that people took the time to make street art within them. I wanted to visit again to share the place with my small son who was excited at the prospect of walking on railroad tracks without “worrying a train would come.” I was also excited to share such a random find with all of you.
Well, it turned out the snow, slippery ice, and enormous icicles prevented us from going all the way without crampons, hard hats, and more courage. I’m glad I packed our snow gear “just in case.” At least what we could see was super cool and enhanced by the Bond Villian-esque icicles.
These old railroad caves/tunnels can be found off of the employee parking lot at the Donner Ski resort. They are such a cool and random place to visit. I’ll have to come back in the spring and update the post with some additional photos when we can actually make it through without risking broken ankles or the occasional hibernating bears!