Explore the most popular lake 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!!

scenic, good for visitors to the area.

Really amazing hike if your looking for something different. Easy walk through the tunnels and awesome views of Donner Lake. Drive up to the trail head is also a great drive.

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.

We loved this hike. Took the whole family! Grandma and grandkids. It was a very unique hike and cool to see some history too. But yes as people mentioned, bring a flashlight or headlamp for kids would be helpful.

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.

hiking
15 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.

hiking
25 days ago

Walking through the old train tunnels was a bust for us. View after not worth the effort. Suggest yo try another hike

What a neat and unique hike through historic train tunnels! The parking lot is located across the street from Donner Ski Ranch. It’s a sizable lot with plenty of parking. You walk through a series of tunnels. A few tunnels are dark and damp, so flashlights would be a good idea. The graffiti art adds an interesting touch to the hike. In between tunnels, you’re able to enjoy terrific views. Dog and kid friendly, too.

hiking
26 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.

Ok, first off this trail, going the whole loop, is NOT 5.4 Miles. We followed the map and it was a little over 7 Miles. The loop itself is not flat, it climbs pretty high and then comes down pretty steep. I would not consider this easy. That said, it’s gorgeous! Beautiful views throughout the whole trail and the uphill vistas at the end of the loop were worth it. Things to consider: bring a flashlight, the tunnels are dark. Also, wear big repellant because the mosquitos at the top of the hill are everywhere. If you choose to just go out and back, it’s totally flat and there are some pretty awesome views. The railroad trail continues on and eventually meets up with the new tracks. There is a cool spot where the new line emerges from the hillside below you on the road. There are also several small waterfalls in that area.

hiking
30 days 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!

Amazing !!

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.

This is NOT a nature trail plus it is NOT signed! Its a flat walk through the old train tunnels...we walked around in circles for almost 2 hours because the start is actually fenced off, and then we realized that was indeed the start of this so called trail. It's more of a stroll through old dark tunnels, if that's what you're in to.

BRING A FLASHLIGHT! It can get pretty dark in the Tunnels.

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 :(

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike. Impossible to get lost. Did the loop (some snow on the descent) and just to add to the fun we walked on top of the snow sheds on the way back.

Great however it is covered in ice now. fell and hit my chin. Be careful!!

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.

hiking
4 months ago

Amazing! Super snowy and icy, perfect for snow shoeing and you can do the tunnels if you have yaktrax or poles and are willing to take your time and be okay with a few slips here and there.

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.

The trailhead was a little tough to find-it was not the Judah lot (unless I missed it) as noted. We parked in a lot directly across from Donner Ski Ranch. There was a gate and then a tunnel almost immediately. It was pretty icy and flat. Definitely bring a headlamp and dress warmly. There was snow on the ground and the wind made it pretty cold. I would love to come hike this trail in the spring or summer, but I enjoyed going in winter. There are some beautiful views of Donner lake and some pretty incredible graffiti art.

Fun walk with the kids. Great views, we did not do the loop. Walked in and out

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