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.
This loop makes for a perfect beginner run 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 run 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.
Features: Swimming — Views
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.
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 run 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 run 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.