Nature Loop Trail Update

Nature Loop Trail Update

Association News, Member News, Trails


We are excited to announce the Nature Loop Trail at Tahoe Donner is once again open to the public! Construction was completed in late October. Thank you to all who were involved in this intensive trail project, and thank you to our members for your understanding as we restored this important recreational and wetland area.


Construction for the Nature Loop Trail Repair + Replacement Project began in mid-July. Crews will be working to repair and open the north side of the loop (along Northwoods Boulevard) as fast as possible. The scope of the Nature Loop Trail repair includes the complete replacement of the bridge and boardwalk as well as the installation of numerous trail construction features used to get trail-goers out of the mud and provide safer travel.

As with the golf course, we urge you to stay out of the construction zone and obey all closures throughout the duration of this trail project. Through-passage on the trail will not be possible while construction is occurring. These precautions are for the safety of trail users, construction crews and further protection of the sensitive wetland environment the loop encompasses. Many hazards will exist if you venture on the trail and surrounding area, and trespassing is prohibited.

This project is anticipated to last through October 2020. We look forward to seeing you on the Nature Loop Trail soon. For trails to explore and enjoy in the meantime this summer, visit the trails page at


For nearly 50 years, the iconic Nature Loop Trail has been an important cog in the wheel of the Tahoe Donner community. Trail users of all ages have been drawn to the trail and its accessibility to outdoor recreation, wildlife and natural diversity.

Originally built almost 50 years ago by Dart Industries, the Tahoe Donner Nature Loop Trail holds a unique draw for the community. Two miles of gentle trail wind through the heart of the association. Children love the natural access it provides, and adults love the opportunity to spend time together in an outdoor setting. The community connects and shares unique outdoor experiences just steps from their homes.

The Nature Loop Trail is loved for many reasons. It is held as a community connection. It provides the opportunity for all members and guests to dive into nature. The access road and bridge are also held highly as the only motorized vehicle access into the Tahoe Donner parcel for forest management activities.

“It is the most approachable family amenity in Tahoe Donner suitable for small children and grandparents to enjoy together. The natural diversity is amazing, from bear slashes on trees to creeks with small creatures to beaver dams and chewed aspen to a lovely walk along the creek. It’s very special,” says one Tahoe Donner member.

The winter of 2016/17 caused irreparable damage to both the boardwalk and bridge, deeming the trail unsafe for the general public. If you remember this winter, you’ll understand the damage. Since then, staff have been working consistently to bring the trail back to its former glory. Three years after its partial closure, the board of directors has approved moving forward with its reconstruction this summer and fall.

Extensive surveying, designing, engineering and permitting have been completed over the last two and a half years, and construction was set into motion at the April 25 board meeting. Considering the complexity of the project, staff have moved remarkably quickly through the planning and design for the replacement and repair project. Typical projects of a similar undertaking are usually over four years in the making.

Construction is likely to begin in early July, pending approval from our ecological consultants with some mobilization efforts prior to that date. The anticipated projected completion date is late fall, dependent on weather and conditions.

It’s a complex solution and carefully protected wild area. While construction will begin this summer, the effort to get to this tangible milestone goes back years. The planning and designing took place between 2018 and 2019 to scope the project and plan for consultant assistance. Those same years included designs and authorizations, including resource surveys, land surveys, engineering and permitting for all reworkings of the trail.

Construction of the Nature Loop Trail will occur in different segments. The project budget is not to exceed $683,935, inclusive of 10% contingency. Funding for the repair and replacement project is provided through the Replacement Reserve.

In total, the project will encompass:

  • One bridge replacement
  • One boardwalk replacement
  • 1,500 linear feet of new and rehabilitated work on the existing turnpike
  • One rock wall retention and tread stabilization improvement
  • 225 feet of decommissioned and rerouted trail
  • Four rolling dips (one with a rock dissipater)
  • One armored swale and a new and improved turnpike
  • 1,800 linear feet of rolling dips with rock dissipators on existing roadbed segment

While renovations and revamps will take place, the integrity of the trail will remain. “We do intend to keep the Nature Loop’s feeling of immersing in the natural environment and maintaining some of the existing ruggedness,” assures Thayer.

The decision to approve the current project came after evaluating a variety of plans. Closing most of the north side of the loop was considered. The future costs and impacts were unknown, but it was forecast that this may minimize the opportunity to protect the legacy trail. Some hikers may attempt to finish the loop without a designated trail, hurting the wetland environment. The future cleanups and orders from the destruction of environmentally sensitive wetland habitat by unauthorized users would create a financial rift. Signage and action to reduce trespassing were forecast to be substantial. Overall, the proposal to permanently close much of the north side of the loop was abandoned.

Postponing construction to 2021 was also considered but ultimately decided against. Pricing for materials are currently reduced due to the COVID-19 impact, and prices in 2021 are unknown. Further delays would also mean that the project would need to be rebid, and the likelihood of project delays due to the pandemic this year may mean an increase in overall contractor demand and cost next year. Additionally, member input and support for the project was included in this decision.

While construction is underway, the loop will be closed to all users. Both Tahoe Donner and the involved contractor will keep the trail closed, and disregarding the closures will cause further damage and prolonged construction time. When it comes to obeying trail requests, Thayer urges that “cooperation will assist to protect environmentally sensitive areas and improve safety for everyone.”

This small-but-mighty loop offers an escape into the area we know and love. Whether it’s an early morning hike, a quick lunch break lap, an evening stroll or a weekend adventure, the Nature Loop Trail will once again be your gateway into the natural world in the heart of the community we call home.


The Nature Loop Trail remains closed due to safety and liability concerns. The boardwalk on the south side of the trail broke under the weight of snow in recent winters and is now mostly submerged, and other parts of the trail are eroding into the creek because retaining walls have failed. The trail will remain closed until all necessary repairs are made, as safety is our priority.

Designing a long-lasting infrastructure plan that falls within the acceptability of our jurisdictional agencies is the bulk of the project’s delay. The budget is in place to fix this trail, and it is viewed as a priority to all management at Tahoe Donner. To date, Tahoe Donner has spent $80,000 on having the proper state and national agencies evaluate the project. This includes wetland surveys, property surveys, biologists, archaeologists, civil engineers, structural engineers and more. We anticipate completing the regulatory process and starting construction in 2019.

Thank you for your continued patience, as well as your love for this trail, which was “grandfathered” into our trail system before the extensive permitting and regulatory practices were introduced. Once all updates are approved and made, this trail will be around for you and your family to enjoy for many years to come.