Back to index Coldstream Canyon hike

Trip Date:  08/30/2019

: 7.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1300'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating: Easy   Moderate   Hard   Strenuous
Coldstream Canyon Route
Download GPXGPX for this trip

Coldstream Canyon Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 39 17.680  W 120 16.094
    End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No
Parking Directions:   From Interstate 80 take the Truckee/Donner State Park exit, which is west of Truckee Proper. Drive to the Chevron gas station and follow the paved road for 0.4 miles to where the pavement ends and the road forks. Take the left fork (the gate should be unlocked) and drive 0.1 mile to another fork in the road. Take the right fork. There is another gate to drive through 0.4 miles down this road. Three miles past this get is a 180 degree bend in the Union Pacific Railroad. This is the end of the road. Do not attempt to cross the railroad tracks with any vehicle.
There is no need to go into Donner State Park to get to the trailhead as of 2019.
Hazards of Note:   Getting to the parking are as described might require high vehicle clearance or 4WD. 

Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  Within the first mile you will go past the Lost Trail Lodge, but after that you will potentially only run into others in their 4WD vehicles.
General Notes:
From the parking area you can continue down the dirt road and pass under the trail tracks via a culvert.  If you do this, cross the streambed and head west to pick up the jeep trail which you will follow for the next couple miles.  If you wish to avoid the 1/2 mile diversion through the culvert, you can cross the train tracks just south of the parking area, but be aware the tracks are STILL IN USE and this could potentially be dangerous or lethal. 
About a mile up the dirt road you will come across the Lost Trail Lodge, a fascinating place which was built by the current owner about 20 years ago.  It can accomodate up to about 30 people per night, and more information on this location can be found at   Continue on the road for a total distance of about 2.5 miles from the parking area, almost completely in the forested canyon until the 4WD road ends and the path becomes a single track hiking/biking trail.  From this point the trail will begin to climb above the trees, offering great views of Castle/Basin Peaks to the north, Anderson and Tinker Knob to the west and the saddle leading up to Tinker Knob to the south.  The views open up quickly as you find yourself clear of the trees.
The trail is very steep from this point on, and with it being still another mile and a half to Tinker Knob from where we found ourselves at our turn-around time we didn't have the chance to venture further. 
In the future, a good option would be to drive past the parking area, through the culvert under the rails and up the road to the end of the 4WD track and save yourself 5 miles of hiking to reach the top of the canyon.

Mark and Tracey getting ready to head out from the parking area near the horseshoe bend in the tracks.
Parking area

Signs at the parking are to look for which indicate you are in the right location.
Parking signs

This early signpost had numbers which disputed ours from online searching of the Coldstream Canyon distances, but they are actually correct.  Tinker Knob was going to be out of our reach on this day.
Early signpost

We knew there was a lodge in the area, but the size and invitingness of the place was amazing.  We had a nice conversation with Dave, the builder and caretaker of the Lost Trail Lodge.
Lost Trail Lodge

This is definitely a place that would be fun to stay at.  They have many sleeping areas and even solar generated electricity for the kitchen and laundry facilities.
Lodge front

the owner was nice enough to let us spend some time looking around the very rustic lodge.

Every once in a while on the early part of the trip the trees clear away enough to see some of the top of Mt. Anderson to our west.
Mt Anderson

Two and a half miles from the railroad tracks the dirt road turns into the National Forest Land and a single-track trail for hikers and bikes.
Trail transition

Getting above the tress we were able to get a view of Mt. Anderson and the Benson warming hut just  to the north fo the peak up on the ridgeline high above.
Benson Hut

The view to the north shows the way we came up as well as some of the Donner Summit mountains including Mt. Lola in the distance.
Looking north

To the west you can clearly see Mt. Anderson and the ridgeline above as you continue to head up a spine above the canyon.
Looking west

Once you get high enough, you can see all the way back down Coldstream Canyon and even Highway 80 far off in the distance.
Coldstream Canyon

Now that we are this high up the ridgeline you can look north and clearly see Castle Peak, the ridgeline toward Basin Peak, the Frog Lake overlook cliffs and even Mt. Lola to the right.
Looking north

Hike route from my GPS. GPS Track of the hike