Popular Sierra Nevada Trailhead Protected


The land around one of the northern Sierra Nevada’s most popular trailheads has been taken off the market and sold to the Tahoe National Forest, The Trust for Public Land and Truckee Donner Land Trust announced today.

For more than 15 years, the thousands of hikers who used the Castle Valley trailhead were greeted by a “For Sale” sign offering the land for $7.5 million, with a phone number to call. To deter potential buyers, some wrote a ‘1’ in front of the ‘7.’

But the two organizations bought the property from its private owner for $2.1 million, far less than the sign’s figure, and sold it to the Forest Service for the same price. 

The purchase of 412 acres protects the beginning of a well-used, year-round trail network which leads people to some of the most popular and easily accessed backcountry in the northern Sierra, including Castle Valley and Castle Peak, the Sierra Club’s Peter Grubb Hut, the Hole in the Ground trail and the Donner Lake Rim Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail Association said the acquisition will protect views and improve access to one of the most popular sections of the Pacific Crest Trail.

“Our mission is to protect land for people and this is a great example of that.  This forever protects a beautiful doorway to one of the most stunning landscapes in the northern Sierra,” said Gina Fromer, California Director of The Trust for Public Land. “We appreciate our partners who helped us, and we want to do more work like this.”

“This is arguably the most popular trailhead in our corner of the Sierra. There will be a host of issues we will look forward to working with the Forest Service to improve the visitor experience,” said Jeff Brown, Truckee Donner Land Trust’s Board President.

“Thanks to the work of many of our partners, we are excited to add this portion of Castle Valley to the Tahoe National Forest,” said Eli Ilano, Tahoe National Forest Supervisor.  “This area contributes to the protection of the South Yuba River watershed, provides important wildlife habitat for a number of species, and adds outstanding recreational access and opportunity to the public.”

The $2.1 million came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the federal government’s main source of money for land protection. Congress recently extended the program for three years.  U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both D-CA, supported the Castle Valley funding as well as the LWCF reauthorization.

The Trust for Public Land’s mission is to create parks and protect land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To share your story or learn more, visit www.tpl.org.

The mission of the Truckee Donner Land Trust is to preserve and protect scenic, historic and recreational lands with high natural resource values in the greater Truckee Donner region and manage recreational activities on these lands in a sustainable manner.  Since 1990 the Land Trust has protected over 33,000 acres of open space in the region. www.tdlandtrust.org

Tim Ahern, The Trust for Public Land, tim.ahern@tpl.org
Perry Norris, Truckee Donner Land Trust, perry@tdlandtrust.org