Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California

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Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead

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  • Parking area and trailhead at the top of Glacier Way.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • Glacier Way Trailhead.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • Glacier Way Trail.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • The Glacier Way Trailhead is a popular embarking point for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • Signs mark the network of trails.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • Overlooking Donner Lake from the overlook spur.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • - Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • The final stretch of the trail is a climb toward the peak.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
  • The peak of Donner Ridge with panoramic views of the Sierras.- Donner Ridge Snowshoe via Glacier Way Trailhead
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Amazing views. Optional scenic spurs. Great backcountry opportunities.
Cons: 
Can be crowded.
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Region:
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter
Total Distance: 
2.80 mi (4.51 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,458.00 ft (2,273.20 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The Donner Ridge snowshoe adventure beginning at the Glacier Way Trailhead is a ramble across a steady but gradual incline that eventually leads up to panoramic views of the area's peaks.

At a distance of 2.8 miles round trip, this route is perfect for beginning snowshoers who are willing to work a little in order to climb to sprawling vistas. Many trails and hills can be accessed from the trailhead, making the start of the trail popular with cross-country skiers, sledding families, and other snowshoers. Once you hike in a bit, however, much of the traffic is left behind, and you may find that you have the trail to yourself. Once you are on the trail, a sign marks an optional half-mile spur trail that leads to an overlook of Donner Lake and the towering Schallenberger Ridge standing immediately behind it.

Many trails intersect along this trail, so it is a good idea to understand your route and the terrain heading into your hike. After wrapping around the southern face of the ridge, you will eventually come to Negro Canyon Overlook and your first views of Mount Judah and Castle Peaks. From here there is a short scurry up a slightly steeper hillside to the top. From the top of the 7,956-foot Donner Ridge it is possible to see 360 degrees to many of the other large peaks in the area, including the slopes at Northstar Ski Resort to the southeast, Freel Peak standing above the southeastern side of Lake Tahoe further in the distance, Donner Peak towering above the western edge of Donner Lake, Boreal Ridge a little further west, and Castle Peak to the northwest.

From the top, retrace your path back to the trailhead. With a little pre-planning, it is also possible to shuttle cars and continue snowshoeing another 2.9 miles downhill to the Johnson Canyon Trailhead.

Note that the Glacier Way Trailhead has trash cans and a picnic table, but no water or bathrooms.

Backcountry Safety

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.

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