Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
700.00 ft (213.36 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The 5-mile roundtrip hike to Johnson Canyon Overlook boasts beautiful panoramic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is open year-round, however, be sure to bring adequate winter gear such as snowshoes if you plan on hiking September through April. Portions of the trail occasionally remain snow-covered through late summer.

Beginning at the Glacier Way Trailhead located off Ski Slope Way, the gravel trail gradually gains elevation as it passes over sparsely forested hillsides. There are numerous intersections with other trails, however, they are well marked. Continue to follow the signs for Donner Lake Rim Trail.

The route soon becomes a narrow dirt path that winds through dense manzanita and pine trees. During the summer, wildflowers paint the landscape vibrant shades of yellow and violet. Along the way, there is a shaded picnic table overlooking Donner Lake and the surrounding mountains, a perfect spot for a snack or break from hiking.

At Johnson Canyon Overlook is a warming hut called the Drifter Hut, resting at an elevation of 7,635 feet. Here the view stretches from Castle Peak in the northwest to the Sierra Crest to the south. From here, hikers may choose to descend into Johnson Canyon via Donner Lake Rim Trail West or take Drifter Trail to Hawk’s Peak and Alder Creek. To return to the Glacier Way parking lot, take Far Side Trail, which quickly loops back to Donner Lake Rim Trail East.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Beautiful views. Wildflowers. Warming hut.

Cons

Little shade.

Trailhead Elevation

7,140.00 ft (2,176.27 m)

Highest point

7,688.00 ft (2,343.30 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

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