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Donner Lake & Memorial State Park

Enjoy an easy lakeside stroll or snowshoe in the Tahoe National Forest.

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Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 3.5 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview:  It's easy to relate to frustrated motorists returning from a weekend skiing in Tahoe, stuck in heavy interstate 80 traffic with aching... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

Begin the hike at the parking lot for the museum and visitor center. Head in a Westerly direction towards the lake and the first signs for the campground.

Check out the Emigrant Trail Museum and the neighboring memorial before or after the hike to learn more about the history of the area the Donner party, the Native Americans and the building of... More

2. [JCT] Right turn towards the lake

Just after crossing the bridge choose the right-hand road to take a counter-clockwise route around this loop trail. Following this road will take you to another junction at which point you can head off-road and follow Donner Creek towards the lake.

3. Thin Ice!

If you're visiting the park in winter and following a route along the edge of the lake, then you will certainly vary a little from our route.

Snow and ice cover the shallower areas of Donner Lake which means you're likely to be walking within the shoreline of the lake at times. Since these areas are shallow there's slight chance of getting wet... More

4. Into The Forest

Spotting the point at which to return into the forest and leave the lake behind can be difficult, but using our map should help a lot.

Just after turning in, you should be able to locate a restroom block by a road. Cross this road to the left of the restroom block and pick up a narrow trail into the woodland.

5. Deep In the Woods

Although by now you're far from the lake there is still plenty to admire here on the forest route.

The narrow trail continues for a while before rejoining with a longer track. There are a few more junctions coming up, so be sure to keep an eye on this trail to stay on track.