Elevation Gain
63.00 ft (19.20 m)
Trail type
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Warming hut
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

State Park Fee


Flat and easy. Lake views.


Parking fee.

Pets allowed


Trailhead Elevation

5,900.00 ft (1,798.32 m)


Big vistas
Historically significant


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California
Lake Tahoe + Northern Sierra, California


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