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Donner State Park Tour

Intermediate

Trail

3.2 mile 5.2 kilometer loop
97% Runnable
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

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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 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.

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 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.

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Jun 12, 2019
Stacy Barnes
Nice run today! Kinda tricky to follow for the full 3.2. Good, easier trail run. 7mi — 9h 00m
Jun 14, 2018
Kelly Schnase

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 5 votes

#3316

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  3.8 from 5 votes
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#511

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#3,316

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2,264 Since Jul 2, 2017
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Photos

Donner Lake with Pacific Crest views.
Jul 2, 2017 near Truckee, CA
Running the crushed granite path along Donner Lake
Jul 2, 2017 near Truckee, CA
Donner Memorial State Park is open for snowshoe running in the winter
Jul 2, 2017 near Truckee, CA
Mountain sunset at Donner Lake.
Jul 2, 2017 near Truckee, CA

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