I rode the Royal Gorge Trails on Donner Summit for the first time this summer, this is such a cool and underrated area for mountain biking in Truckee! The trails are well built, and climbing doesn’t feel like a chore to get to the good stuff. While the downhills have flow, they’re not overbuilt flow trails, and riding through the forest feels natural. As a bonus, they aren’t as well known as the other Truckee trails, so they don’t get very crowded or beat up by overuse.
The fact that there are any trails at Royal Gorge is an amazing story of conservation success story. In 2012, Mountain Area Preservation (the organization where I work), Truckee Donner Land Trust (the organization where Greyson works) and eight other organizations came together to stop a proposed development of 950 residential units. Through negotiations and fundraising more than $11 million, the Truckee Donner Land Trust was able to acquire more than 3,000 acres at Royal Gorge, which is now permanently protected and accessible to the public for mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing and more! Click here for more information from the Land Trust about Royal Gorge.
For an awesome ride that showcases some of the Royal Gorge Highlights, I’d recommend this route that’s mainly on the Royal Gorge Rim Trail which is about 6 miles and ~1,000 feet of climbing. Park at the Hoelter Hall Trail Head in Soda Springs, and from there hop on Upper Switchback which turns into Lower Claim Jumper. After about 0.5 miles on Lower Claim Jumper, there’s an intersection and take the right fork to continue on to Upper Claim Jumper for less than 0.25 miles. Take a right for a short jaunt on the Razorback/Claim Jumper Connector and then another right on to Lower Bogus Basin. After about 0.3 miles, you’ll hit a trail intersection where you want to take the middle trail with lots of switchbacks, Razorback Reroute. Razorback ends at a bench with awesome views, so check it out.
Razorback turns into the Royal Gorge Rim Trail (RGRT), but be sure not to miss the Rowton Peak Spur, which is a short climb rewarded with amazing views. After riding back down, hop back on the the RGRT Bogus Basin to Razorback segment which descends a fun and flowy 230 feet in about 0.75 miles. At the intersection, take the left trail on to RGRT Tiny Tim to Bogus Basin for another 300 feet of descent interspersed with some short climbs that dead ends on a very short section of access road. Go left on the access road, and almost immediately RGRT Soda Springs to Tiny Tim, the final bit of trail on this route will be on the left. The Royal Gorge Rim Trail ends on Soda Springs Road, which will take you back to the parking area.
This route is just a part of the Royal Gorge Trails, and I’m excited to explore more of this area before winter arrives!
Location: Soda Springs, Donner Summit, California
Mileage: ~6.25 miles
Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet