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Cross-Country Ski to Drifter Hut

Truckee, California

based on 2 reviews



9.6 miles

Elevation Gain

980 ft

Route Type



Added by Jenna Herzog

Challenge yourself to 980 feet of elevation gain, then kick back in the warming hut at the top with incredible views of the Sierra Crest. 

Set out from the Tahoe Donner Cross Country center in Truckee at 6,650 feet elevation. Day passes range from $12 to $34, depending on time of day and skier age, and provide access to over 100 kilometers of groomed trails. 

Leaving the day lodge, there are multiple options for skiing up to Drifter Hut. A favorite route is to link up the Night Hawk, Little Dipper, Big Dipper, Boot Hill, Crazy Horse and Drifter trails. This route keeps you skiing on intermediate trails the majority of the way, until hitting the final pitch of advanced trail to the summit. Round-trip this route is roughly 15.5 kilometers (9.6 miles), though there are several options for longer excursions on both the uphill and downhill portions. 

Note: This is just one of dozens of routes to Drifter Hut through Tahoe Donner Cross Country. The trails are clearly marked with signs at intersections and trail maps throughout the ski area. Be sure to check the grooming status of the trails before heading out. 

Along the way, you'll ski through dense alpine forests until the woods open up while on the Crazy Horse trail (this is where the crowds, if there are any, usually thin out as well). The route gets progressively steeper as you climb, so remember to keep some fuel in the tank for the last few kilometers. 

After the final steep section through pristine snow fields, the trail levels out as you approach the Drifter Hut. The hut provides a welcome opportunity to rest your tired legs, have a snack, refill water bottles, and best of all enjoy the 360-degree views of the Sierra Crest. On a clear day, you can see across the valley to Donner Summit as well as Castle and Andesite Peaks. 

For a bonus ski, add the 3.3 kilometer out-and-back on The Far Side trail, which leaves from the hut. This additional jaunt rewards endurance-studs with yet another incredible view and photo opportunity.   

After the fun downhill, celebrate with an apres-ski beverage or a well-deserved, organic meal back at the lodge. This route, along with the entire trail system at Tahoe Donner, is available to snowshoers as well.  

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Cross-Country Ski to Drifter Hut Reviews

We just ski'd this route yesterday and it was exhilarating to do it on our second day of skiing this season. We ski'd up via Rough Rider, Big Dipper, Boot Scoot, past Sundance Hut, then took the right fork of the Crazy Horse intersection all the way up to Drifter Hut, almost by accident, as we'd meant to ski back on the Crazy Horse loop, but the trail was not groomed. So we kept going up Far Side despite the last "oh no" and "aarrghhh" steep hill after a slow slog up and up and up. The sight of Drifter Hut was a huge relief to confirm we made it. The views were incredible and to see the sun setting was icing on the cake. I hope you get as good weather and lovely thick snow as we did this December.

Are you a influencer? Cuz this kinda shit on this site is bunk and only useful to SF/nyc/la dipshits. Go get a real job and stop trying to make a living off the climate.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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