The One Spot In Northern California That’s Basically Heaven On Earth
Donner Lake is a magical mountain retreat during all four seasons of the year. It’s a cozy and comfortable lakeside community that has an nostalgic mountain town vibe. It’s located near some of the busier resort destinations in Northern California, but the homes scattered around this alpine lake are primarily rustic cabins and have an intimate connection to the beauty of the Sierra and the mountain lifestyle.
Winters can be fierce here, but they are also magnificently beautiful.
The Donner Memorial State Park, located on the eastern side of the lake, commemorates the infamous party of pioneers who were trapped here in the 1800s and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
Despite the harsh conditions the group suffered, this area is a popular escape for low landers to escape to in the winter.
In addition to skiing and sledding at the nearby resorts, visitors also enjoy snowshoeing and hiking in the area. It's ideal for snowball fights and making snowmen, as well.
Scattered along the north shore of the lake are several public piers. Even in the winter time they make for a great place to sip a cup of coffee out of a thermos and watch the sunrise.
Sunsets at Donner Lake are also magnificent. You only have to witness one and you will see why we just had to describe it as heaven on earth.
Water exits the lake via Donner Creek and then joins up with the Truckee River. It flows parallel to Highway 80 through the town of Truckee and down into Nevada.
Usually in the winter you can walk along the shore and take in the glassy, stunning waters of Donner Lake. In the summertime, it is popular to swim, fish and paddle these waters.
In the winter time, however, it's really amazing to just take in the view from the shore or the deck of one of the many cabins for rent in the surrounding neighborhoods.
A combination of faulting and glacial action formed the lake, and it lies beneath the mountain peaks that surround it from virtually every side.
A great view of the lake can be seen from Old Highway 40 up on Donner Summit. Drive up here and look down on Donner Lake from the West. The view is spectacular.
It's also quite beautiful up at the top of the summit. Take your time and enjoy the snow, trees and granite boulders that are common up here.
Even if you visit before the snows come, you won't be disappointed. The Donner Lake area is beautiful in the fall as well.
It's also particularly fun in the summer, when you can lounge for hours on the docks and take in the mountain air.
If you spend any amount of time at Donner Lake, it's almost impossible not to fall in love with its beautiful scenery and endless opportunities for recreation.
YouTube user Daniel Trush captured the breathtaking beauty of Donner Lake in this video:
Donner Lake is just one of the many beautiful spots to escape to in the Sierra. Where is your favorite mountain retreat in Northern California? Please share it with us on Facebook.
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