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Donner State Park Tour

Easy/Intermediate
  3.8 ( 5 ) Favorite

Trail

3.2 mile 5.2 kilometer loop
Easy/Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 249' 76 m
Descent: -246' -75 m
High: 6,077' 1,852 m
Low: 5,942' 1,811 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Map Key

A perfect beginner trail to tour Donner Memorial State Park and finish with a cool dip in Donner Lake.

DPMR Donner Party Mountain Runners

Features Swimming · Views

Dogs must be on-leash in the state park, but they are allowed in the lake off-leash at "Dog Beach" near the start/finish of the run.

Overview

This loop makes for a perfect beginner hike to tour Donner Memorial State Park and finish with a cool dip in Donner Lake. Enjoy Donner Lake and Pacific Crest Mountain views as you explore the historic Donner Memorial State Park, including the Emigrant Monument that honors the ill-fated Donner Party as well as other UNAFRAID pioneers. Much of the hike is on a crushed granite path, but the back 1.25-mile section is dirt singletrack with a gentle climb. This section currently includes some fun technical obstacles (i.e. downed trees) thanks to the big winter of 2016-17.

Need to Know

Donner Memorial is a popular summer destination so plan accordingly. Free street parking can be found on Donner Pass Rd. Or make a family day of it and enter the park at the main entrance (fee required). See the park website for more information.

Description

Start at the Donner Lake Dam, where you may want to leave your family playing in the lake. Take the flat crushed granite Interpretive Trail over to the Emigrant Monument and then pass through the Creek Campground. Find the smooth singletrack alongside Michel's Pond, and then proceed into the forest singletrack where you'll have fun hopping rocks and trees. Return via the Interpretive Trail as you enjoy Donner Lake and the surrounding mountain views. Finish your hike with a dip in Donner Lake!

History & Background

Much of the Donner Party spent the winter of 1846 trapped in the snow at Donner Lake. This hike takes you past the monument at Donner Memorial State Park, which is dedicated to all the pioneers who came overland to California. Its base stands 22 feet high—to surpass the greatest depth of snow that may accumulate at the lake. You can learn more at the park's visitor center.

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Contacts

Land Manager: California State Parks

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Check-Ins

Jun 29, 2019
Greg Spooner
Aug 7, 2018
Agnes Vause
3.4mi
Jul 25, 2018
Sho Kawano
3.3mi
May 1, 2017
Sophia Barwegen

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#2958

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  3.8 from 5 votes
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Featured Hike Rankings

#483

in California

#2,958

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