Donner Memorial State Park


Difficulty 1 Beginner
Length 2.4 miles round trip
5950 feet
Navigation Road and marked trail
Time Short
Season Late December through March
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Truckee, Norden
Start Donner Memorial State Park which is located at the west end of Truckee. Walk to the entrance building for the campground (closed in winter) and the trailhead is located just beyond.


The tour through Donner Memorial State Park is a perfect place to enjoy a few hours on a winter day. The tour is level, well-marked, and popular among beginners. Nearby Donner Lake blended with skiing through the woods will appeal to kids. The tour will also appeal to more advance skiers seeking a short jaunt or a sprint to get the bodily juices moving.

It is possible to extend the tour by skiing along the shore of Donner Lake as described in the mileage log.

A special treat for kids, and adults for that matter, is a visit to the park's museum that tells the tale of the Donner Party. In the winter of 1846-1847 these early pioneers were forced to camp at the east end of Donner Lake. The winter was severe, human suffering great, and most died.

A fee is charged that covers both skiing in the park and the museum.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.0
Elevation change: Nil

From the trailhead (1) ski downhill on a road, cross Donner Creek on a bridge, and continue for a total of about 50 yards until you reach a fork in the road (2).

Miles: 0.0 - 1.2
Elevation change: Nil

Ski on the west (right) fork along the south shore of Donner Lake for 1.2 miles until you reach China Cove (3). Here a marker indicates the point where the ski touring trail leaves the road. You can lengthen the tour by continuing to ski west along the south shore of Donner Lake and then returning to complete the standard tour. However, do not ski on the lake itself — it is never stable.

Miles: 1.2 - 1.9
Elevation change: Nil

Follow the marked trail east (left) for 0.7 mile until you reach a snow-covered road (4).

Miles: 1.9 - 2.1
Elevation change: Nil

Ski east on the road for 0.2 mile until you reach the location where the road turns north (5).

Miles: 2.1 - 2.4
Elevation change: Nil

Ski north on the road, crossing Donner Creek once again, until you reach the trailhead (1).

Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour