Donner Peak Trail

MODERATE 76 reviews
#19 of 165 trails in

Donner Peak Trail is a 3.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Norden, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

3.5 miles
941 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly



nature trips

rock climbing


trail running




wild flowers



Snowshoes can be useful along this route as deep snow can persist here into late spring and beyond.

7 days ago

Great hike to take in the meteor shower, some of the trail branches off, but the mobile signal is good.

21 days ago

Beautiful spot. Views get better and better as you ascend. I’m not in very good shape so the elevation was quite a challenge for me, but I made it! Lots of good rocks to use as rest stops and to enjoy the views along the way. Will definitely go back.

23 days ago

Easy to moderate hike. We did it at 4pm and it was hot on the way up, but beautiful. View at the very top is gorgeous. But if a scramble to get up there. And there's a hidden geocache!

2 months ago

Great trail off I-80. Some hard switchbacks at the beginning but it’s overall short to get to the peak and view of Donner Lake below. You can continue onto Mt. Judah but it was not worth it to me.

6 months ago

7 months ago

There is some ice at first and deeper snow as you climb, but the views are great! If you stick the to gps you can stay on he trail up and back. The trail gets creative with the snow cover.

10 months ago

Includes about a mile of unshaded switchbacks and small rock climb at summit. Awesome views. Was somewhat crowded on an October weekday - this is a school trip for Donner Tahoe kids!

11 months ago

Fun hike with several great lookout points to see donner lake and the sierras. Steep, rocky steps at start (a bit harder for our dogs), but then even elevation throughout the rest of the hike.

11 months ago

Nice hike! Do it in the morning. Gets crowded and more sunny later. First part is very rocky. Plenty of dogs on trail.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Did this one today as we came off Mt Judah...easy climb up to some beautiful scenery!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Absolutely beautiful!

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Great hike! Steady incline the entire way and a bit rocky in some areas. Views at the top were gorgeous. Didn't see many folks on the way up...ran into several on the way down. Once you get to the peak there is an opportunity to connect to another trail and add an additional couple of miles to your hike. Recommend!

Monday, September 12, 2016

I actually thought this trail was fairly easy, so I'm surprised it is rated as moderate. There was a point where it was a steady uphill for a brief stretch, bit the terrain was relatively flat most of the way. The summit provides a beautiful view of Dinner Lake. I also enjoyed the woodsy part of this hike!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Beautiful hike! Started at 7am which was perfect, only a couple other hikers on the trail at that time. It was somewhat confusing because you actually turn onto the Mt. Judah Loop Trail from the PCT, but continue up to Donner Peak as oppose to doing the loop unless you want to. This app was really helpful. Only downside were the plethora of extremely invasive yellow jackets on the peak. They made eating less than enjoyable. So we didn't stay on the peak as long as we would have if it wasn't for the rude bees!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Great hike. Start early to beat the crowds. Nice 360 degree view from the top. The sign in box was missing this time. Only 4 stars because most other people on the trail were loud hikers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

OMG. I have hiked many places, this has to be one on the best. Nice incline, not too bad. The wild flowers were outstanding. Love it, I will return

Friday, June 03, 2016

This is a game of finding the trailhead.

The Pacific Crest Trail sign is a very very small road sign on Sugar Bowl road, about one mile before you reach the Sugar Bowl resort. turn left and the first parking lot is where the trailhead actually starts.

If you are heading out of Sugar Bowl, it is about 1 mile away, the first road sign on your right. Since the road sign is only painted on one side, you would see only the back of the sign. So slow down and look at it, then turn right. First parking lot.

If you pass the first parking lot, and keep going, you will find the second parking lot, with two buildings that seem to be abandoned. That's where this app mark as the starting point of the trail.

Without knowing better, I started from the second parking lot. The first sight overlooking Donner Lake is great. But I believe this is not the right path. The trailhead should be the same as Mt Judah loop or the PCT trail head.

Anyway, according to this map, I was walking in the creek, and not on a trail. So my shoes do get wet. I couldn't proceed half way through as it just didn't feel right that I am walking in the creek. I headed back out and started again from the first parking lot. But couldn't proceed too much as snow still cover the trail at this time of the year (early June).

Well, will try again later. It has been fun just exploring the area and knowing the various paths.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Lovely views from the top. Very rocky the first mile or so- definitely wear supportive shoes with a good grip. Parked on old donner pass road and found the trailhead from there.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

nice uphill hike, rewarding views, great breeze. peak tends to get crowded. Did hike with 3yr old on my back also our 12&7 yr old kids...continued on to mount Judah loop. insane amount of wildflowers towards the end of June. kids loved it,,, is kinda hard starting out then gets easy

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Great trail, great area! This was a nice, not too hard hike. The recommendation given here to go up to Donner Peak is good advice. It is well worth it. Note that this deviation is not signed, so you'll have to be alert (and pay attention on the way up, so that you can retrace your steps on the way down).

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Climbed this trail on New Years! It had been over a month since the last snow, but the snow was still pretty deep - totally bare ground in some places, but up to your knees in others. The snow also made it kind of hard to find the trail sometimes, but the map on the everytrail app helped a ton! Beware that donner summit road doesn't get plowed, so best to park on one of the plowed roads and walk to the trail head. Totally gorgeous. We had a great time!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Maybe it was me but we couldn't find the trail head from these directions. We ended up parking by Sugar Bowl and then climbing Mt. Lincoln following the cat track/road up to the top. We had a nice hike but the terrain wasn't particularly varied since it was a ski resort. On the other hand, it had great cell coverage if we got in trouble when we climbed down the back way over the lava.

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recorded Track - Aug 05, 11:57 AM

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