Snowlands Logo

Castle Valley Trailhead Project

Tahoe National Forest is undertaking a project to improve the parking situation at the Castle Valley Trailhead at Donner Summit. If you have ever visited this area on a busy winter weekend, you know that the demand for parking here greatly exceeds that provided by the Donner Summit Sno-Park on the opposite side of Interstate 80.

Tahoe NF has received a grant from the California State Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD) to design a parking lot on National Forest land north of the freeway. The Forest has contracted with South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) to carry out the design phase. Once the design is complete, Tahoe NF may apply to the OHMVRD for funds to build the facility, which will be designed for both summer and winter use.

Right now, SYRCL is seeking public input from those who visit this area to help define the characteristics of the proposed parking lot. Due to geographical and economic constraints, the lot will be located along the existing unpaved road between Interstate 80 and Castle Valley (the current location of the green gate and user signage dividing motorized and non-motorized routes) and limited in size to 80 vehicles or fewer. What SYRCL would like to know from you is how much of the parking lot should be allocated for large parking spaces for vehicles with trailers for snowmobiles and horses, and whether or not prominent, existing geographical features such as large rocks and trees should be retained and worked into the design.


You can help define the nature of this new facility by completing an online survey by June 19, 2023. Click here for a map of the project location and a link to the survey. Click on the CASTLE VALLEY PUBLIC INPUT SURVEY button on that page and answer the survey questions.

Public Meeting

SYRCL hosted a kickoff meeting for the project on June 8

Here is the meeting announcement from SYRCL:

Good morning,

The Tahoe National Forest and the South Yuba River Citizens League would like to invite you to the Public Kick-off Meeting for the Castle Valley Trailhead and Outreach Project.

The Castle Peak trailhead is one of the most heavily utilized OHV/OSV and non-motorized use trailheads in the Truckee Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest. It is severely limited by undesignated parking and a lack of restroom facilities. The result is that users are forced to park unsafely on roads and/or in forested areas exacerbating soil compaction, runoff, and erosion resulting in environmental degradation and diminishing the user experience. These issues persist year-round but are especially challenging during the winter months when access is further limited by snow and snow removal. Creation of designated parking areas and restroom facilities will provide infrastructure to enhance user experience at the trailhead.

At the Public Kick-off Meeting, we would like to receive community feedback and talk through goals and constraints for the Castle Valley Trailhead and proposed parking area. Our project team plans to share conceptual designs for the parking area and would like to hear from various user groups and members of the public to align our goals as we move through the design process

This meeting will be held June 8th from 430-630pm in the Main Lodge at the Soda Springs Mountain Resort. Please see the attached flyer for full event details.

This meeting will be open to the public with no prior sign-up required, so please spread the word by sharing this email and flyer. This will be an in-person meeting, with no live virtual attendance option. However, we plan to share a survey which will be accessible for two weeks to facilitate additional feedback. The meeting will also be recorded and shared on SYRCL's YouTube channel after the meeting.

We look forward to seeing you!

Representatives from Snowlands Network attended this meeting, and we will be monitoring this project closely as it proceeds.

Snowlands is concerned about how the improved parking at the Castle Valley trailhead might affect the conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreation that occur frequently in this area. It is critical that separate areas and routes be set aside here for motorized and non-motorized recreation. Because the design of the parking lot is being funded by the California State Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, the project must include some benefit for motorized recreation, e.g. snowmobiles. The results of the survey will influence just how much benefit for motorized recreation will be included.

A draft decision for an OSV Use Designation management plan for Tahoe NF was published in February, 2019, but has not yet been adopted. That plan would prohibit OSV travel within Castle Valley and some of the surrounding land between Andesite Peak and the freeway. Motor vehicle traffic would be restricted to a route that travels west from the proposed parking area and then north, passing just west of Andesite Peak. At that point, after about 1.25 miles of travel, snowmobiles may leave the route and travel cross-country. More information about the OSV Use Designation project for Tahoe NF may be found at the project page here.