Trail work complete at Black Wall

Black Wall stands as an impressive sentinel on Donner Summit. | Sam Okamoto Photography, Courtesy Truckee Donner Land Trust

The Truckee Donner Land Trust and its partners have completed significant improvements to the trail to the Black Wall climbing area, ensuring the trail stands up to winter storms and an increasing numbers of visitors, the Trust announced in a press release.

Running in a horseshoe from Old Highway 40, along the foot of Black Wall’s 400-foot granite cliffs and back down to the highway about a third of a mile later, the rugged Black Wall Trail climbs steeply over granite talus slopes, following Donner Summit’s topography.

The route was originally set by climbers, who have been scaling the wall since the 1970s. Working with the Access Fund Conservation Team West, American Conservation Experience and numerous volunteers, Land Trust staff and volunteers have invested many hours this summer working to make the trail more sustainable, reducing erosion and shoring up defenses against winter weather.

The Black Wall Trail is more rugged than a typical Land Trust trail due to the terrain but is a worthwhile quick trip for adventurous climbers and hikers alike offering great views of Donner Lake and beyond. It’s not unusual to spot or hear the cries of nesting peregrine falcons high up on the cliff. (The Land Trust protects hatchlings each spring with a climbing moratorium on routes around the nests.)

The Land Trust purchased Black Wall in 2015 and has been working to accommodate the growing popularity of rock climbing on Donner Summit since.

The large east-facing wall is the first rock formation you encounter on the right as you drive up Old Highway 40 from Donner Lake. Totaling 11.9 acres, the acquisition includes some of the most dramatic terrain in the region. The property includes climbing areas including Black Wall, Peanut Gallery and Road Cut, while also giving access to Space Wall, Shark Wall and Grouse Slabs. Many of these climbing routes were established more than 50 years ago, serving climbers from beginner to expert. | tdlandtrust.org