The area around Truckee has a vast selection of trails that are good for snowshoeing or skiing, but many of them are a bit challenging due to length or elevation gain. An easy and scenic family or beginner snowshoe trail is this loop through the Donner Memorial State Park. From the day use parking lot next to the entrance kiosk, take the trail to the west and cross the bridge over Donner Creek. In winter it is easy to follow along the south side of the creek and the south shore of the lake, where you'll have marvelous views of the Donner Pass area across the lake. Follow the shore until it curves to the south at the China Cove swimming beach. You'll find a marked fire road that heads back to the east through the forest and eventually reaches the campground. From here, follow the exit signs back to the parking lot.
The park memorializes the Donner party, which was trapped here by an early snowstorm on their way to California in the winter of 1846. Of the 87 settlers in the group, only 48 were still alive after the four month ordeal, and some of the survivors had resorted to eating the dead to survive. This short snowshoe trip is not nearly so challenging, but be sure to check the weather before setting out.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.