Explore the most popular forest trails near Donner with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

This is a very easy and beautiful hike. it's more of a stroll through the woods but along the way there are two or three small little "ponds" and two stunning lakes. the only issue we had was getting to the two lakes.. there are no signs and it is very easy to lose your way and take the wrong trails (which we did 3 times) USE YOUR GPS!! Will definitely be going back again soon!!

An easy hike to two lakes. keep your GPS on otherwise you can miss the trail to the lakes as there is no sign for Azalea lake. the flowers are in full blown.

This place is beautiful!! Great place for swimming, bringing kids, and walking dogs. The rocks and wild flowers are so pretty. Definitely go in the morning before it gets too hot. If your looking for the right and beautiful place to hike this should be it.

Excellent hike. Great views. Highly recommend this hike.

If I could add the photos I took to help you on the trail I would post it. 1. Park at the Donner Ski Ranch. 2. Walk up the skii hill access road. 3. You will come to a fork in the road, take the road on the right which should go past a tiny house with natural gas tank near it. 4. You will come to a water tank and garage, follow the road that hugs the building. 5. At the dam continue to follow around to the right side of the lake. 5a. The trail is not strictly hugging the lake but you can wander around further ahead past where you first find the dam. 5b. The trail is there somewhere and once you find it you are good to go. Enjoy!

Beautiful hike once you get on the hiking path. Not marked well to find your way, so you have to just guess at times. Flora lake is beautiful. Several people and dogs, but a good easy-moderate hike.

17 days ago

Beautiful views, but once you get to the first lake the trail runs underwater, and it is very difficult to find an alternate path.

Beautiful, challenging trail. Dangerous in one part.

I recommend starting this like Frog Lake Overlook Trail. Ie — Pick up the PCT at the campground on the south side of hwy 80 at the castle peak exit (bunny hill drive). Follow this under the 80 and pick up the summit lake trail. This first section is VERY picturesque — a nice start to the hike. And the entire hike to Frog Lake overlook is superb. God trail, good coverage, great views. Frog lake overlook is quite breathtaking.

Then you traverse to Castle Peak. Pretty easy even though the trail is NOT moderately trafficked. Hard to follow in many places — but the ridge-line is there as a guide and the terrain is easy going.

BUT THEN you hit the big rocky step that goes up to castle peak where the three towers are — and the trail disappeared for me. This area is DANGEROUS from my POV. The rock is very steep and crumbly. There are numerous areas that might be the trail — many lead to sketchy or exposed (small) climbs — and some of these just dead-end causing back tracks. I was “on” the GPS trail — but it wasn’t there. Just scary cliffs, climbs and dead-ends.

I eventually scrambled off “trail” down about 100 feet and around some of the worst parts — and then hunted and pecked my way back up to the plateau.

From there smooth sailing. The easternmost tower is climbable from the east face (exposed class 4 climb about 50 feet). Middle tower is easy to climb right up the center. All views are impressive. Tops of the towers very exhilarating.

The walk down is pretty — but very little cover and loose footing at places from heavy traffic. To extend the hike a bit, link up with “hole in the ground” trail before joining the last part of the Castle Peak return. Then walk down and under hwy 80 in the road and follow bunny hill drive to the campground.

28 days ago

We enjoyed this hike. There were a lot of wild flowers which were beautiful. Overall it was a good hike, but I did not appreciate the fact that we could hear the sound of the traffic from the highway about 80% of the time. Also, be forewarned that swimming is not allowed in Lake Angela.

1 month ago

once on top of castle peak there is no trail that I could find. I had my phone GPS and Garmin Fenix GPS and while they indicated I was "on the trail" there were several points where the "the trail" was a cliff! there was a lot of snow on the backside of the peak so its possible the trail was on the backside buried but I couldn't find it and had a harrowing experience backtracking.

Lovely and great views of the river and the lakes. Happy I went with the dog. Great early morning hike!

Beautiful spot, but much of the trail is under water and challenging to find pass arounds. The app really doesn't help much at all. Still, we enjoyed our day.

The whole area is plastered with signs that permits are required nov-may 30! After driving here, we had to turn around. No information on where to get permits or how much they cost- this was a bummer :(

This is one of my most favorite trails. I always go counterclockwise. Be mindful of the time of year you're going - because it crosses through Sugarbowl, you'll need an Uphill pass to stay on the trail during ski season.

I love this hike year around! We have gone in everything from stormy and white out to hot and sunny weather. Sitting where you can see Donner Lake and eat lunch is a treat. I have missed the turn to the lakes which is not marked and advise using GPS. It is my favorite place to take beginners and kids.

Took my girl and my dog out here after a friend told me I should check it out. So glad I did. You basically hike the ridge all the way to squaw valley and it has amazing 360 degree views. Challenging but well worth it

6 months ago

This trail was amazing! It was beautiful and full of beautiful sights. However, I would not call it moderate, more of a Hard level.

7 months ago

I didn't expect much snow but did need the snowshoes after the first .5 miles. First part was pretty packed and iced up from snow park sleds.
We were the only tracks after the first mile. Lots of frozen water and great scenery.
Seems as the trail is better marked on the return. The lake is nice but no swimming, fishing, or dogs. This lake is a public water source.
Great hike with the snow.

If you like taking photos of beautiful scenes with a reflection in water then this is your hike. However, go very early (730) before any breeze starts. Now the bad news. I couldn’t find nor stay on the trail unless I used the app. The problem was getting to places where amazing photos could be taken but the trails go every which way. I felt like I was looking for Pokémon only it was the trail. Also, boots are a must.

There are two ways to access this trail. The easiest is to start at Donner Ski Ranch and keep all their buildings to your Right. Hike up and past the concrete dam that is the south east end of Lake Angela. Keep Lake Angela on your left and follow the trail The more difficult access is from what used to be Sugar Bowl ACADEMY AND The PCT.

This is an awesome day hike. You get to summit Donner peak and look down over Donner Lake and the surrounding area. Then you continue up over Mount Judah, parts of which overlap with the old emigrant trail. See an Emigrant Trail sign on the top of the ski slopes near the PCT intersection. Very nice hike!

9 months ago

Beautiful area with 4 lakes and small melt ponds hidden in the granite.

9 months ago

meant to do another trail. was okay. went in September and was windy and cold. about 37-40 degrees. bring warm clothes during this time of year

9 months ago

Park at Donner Ski ranch and walk up the ski hill to meet the trail. Hard to find the path but once past the first lake it was a great hike. Everyone's advice below helped a lot! Pretty key to bring your phone to use the app to stay on the trail. Don't be afraid to wander a bit as there's some beautiful views of Donner lake as well.

Beautiful hike! Shade for warm days and great access to lakes to swim. Easy access...hardly anyone out there today so we felt like we had the place all to ourselves.

great trail with loads of shade. lovely lakes.

Great moderate hike for a family. Azalea lake was wonderful to jump into! Flora lake was fairly crowded with camp kids the day we went. NOTE: Turn off is not well marked! There was a rock cairn when we went but don't count on it being there. Keep an eye on your app.

11 months ago

Parked at Donner Ski Ranch, beginning of trail was access road till we got to construction workers at new water tank that forced us to go around their work area. This required trailblazing for 1/2 mile. The trail around lake 1 is not obvious but was fine with program to keep repositioning to trail. But the trail turned into a gem at the north end of lake 1 and remained obvious all the way to lake 3. On the return trip we went cross country for 1/4 mile to east from north end of lake 2 to join PCT. PCT was a real nice return route with great views of Donner Lake and surrounding mountains. Definitely return to this trail again

Friday, July 14, 2017

Started from Donner Ski Resort. Without Ap it would have been hard to find trail. Once on it it was an amazing hike

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beautiful trail. The snow melt and the high water levels make the trail a little hard to follow, but once a flora lake, you'll be happy you stuck to it.

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