When friends and family come from out of state to visit, show off some of the best of California at Donner Memorial Park. A couple of ADA trails make for a lovely stroll along Donner Lake with a Donner Party history lesson.
The Donner Monument puts history into perspective when you note the base of the monument represents how deep the snow was when the party crossed. To your right, while looking at the monument, you find the Nature Trail at only .49 miles. This short trail takes you through a meadow with a handsome bridge over the creek.
At the west end of the parking lot is the Lakeside Interpretive Trail at 1.5 miles. Picnic tables and barbecues dot the beach. Campsites run along the interior of the length of the trail. With the lake in the foreground and a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains it’s tough to take a bad picture here.
I like Donner because it is often less crowded than Lake Tahoe. The elevation can also take 20 degrees off valley temperatures. The trail is flat, level and well maintained.
Sturdy benches are common along the path as are restrooms and park rangers if you need assistance. For more history check out the visitor’s center. There is a day use fee collected at the park. The State Park Poppy Pass is accepted here. To get there take Interstate 80 east to the Donner Pass Road exit and follow the signs into the park.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram. Locally, you can find her books at the California Welcome Center in El Dorado Hills Town Center at 2085 Vine Street.