Donner Lake Description
Donner Lake is located northwest of Lake Tahoe in Truckee, CA. This community is unique and well loved by homeowners and visitors in summer and winter alike. With recreational opportunities including biking, trail running, climbing, swimming, boating, and backcountry skiing, living at and visiting Donner Lake is fun for all. There are two sandy beaches on each end of the lake, bookending a row of public docks, perfect for fishing, swimming, or just relaxing in the sun. Neighborhoods here are just minutes away from some of the most epic skiing in North Lake Tahoe. Donner Lake is just east of Donner Summit and is within both Nevada and Placer Counties. Donner Lake Homes for sale range from $355,000-$2,200,000
General Donner Lake Information:
Donner Lake is a focal point for many family-friendly activities. Water activities include swimming, sailing, kayaking, water-skiing, diving, and fishing and can be enjoyed on the lake and along nearby streams, and rivers. Other outdoor recreation in the Donner Lake area includes hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and more.
There is public access to the Lake at the West End Beach, as well as 1.5 miles of public boat docks along the North side of the Lake. The private associations with lake access are Donner Tract Private Beach, and Tahoe Donner Homeowners private beach access at the East Shore of Donner Lake.
Donner Lake is less than a half hour from some of the best snow skiing in the Sierras. Downhill ski areas include: Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Donner Ski Ranch, Tahoe Donner®, Boreal, and Soda Springs. There are also numerous cross-country ski areas including Royal Gorge, and the Donner Memorial State Park, which have trails for Cross Country Nordic Skiing.
Donner Lake has a rich history, Major Emigrant Trails run near the Lake and it is the site of the “Donner Party” story. A Toll Road was later constructed over the Summit and it became one of the first transcontinental highways (Lincoln Highway), followed by the Rail road; then, Highway 40 (now, “Donner Pass Road”), and finally Interstate Highway 80. A visit to the Museum located in the Donner Memorial State Park, or the Truckee Historical Society’s “Jail” downtown, can fill a day or two of education.
Donner Lake was formed primarily through a combination of faulting and glacial action. Glacial moraine formed a natural dam to the Lake, upon which most of the State Park is situated. The main streams which feed the Lake are: Summit Creek, coming from the West, and Gregory Creek (Negro Creek), from the Northwest; as well as many underground springs which surround the Lake. The water then exits the Lake, through the State Park, via Donner Creek and joins the Truckee River.
The depth of the Lake has been measured by the California State Lands Commission, to be 328 Feet deep at it’s deepest point — just off the “guard rail” along Donner Pass Road. The Lake is just under 3 miles long and about 3/4 miles wide. High Water level is 5935.8 feet above mean sea level (since Lake Tahoe’s high water line is 6228′ MSL, that dispels the myth that somehow the two lakes are connected). Donner Lake can reach a temperature of 72° during Summer. When measurements were taken one year it was determined Donner Lake was on the average 6° warmer than Lake Tahoe. When you take into account that Donner Lake will occasionally freeze over during Winter, that shows we have to definitely make up the difference during Summer! The Lake is lowered between 8-12 feet during winter to provide a “catch basin” during spring run-off, so flooding Reno is less likely.
Donner Lake Property Owners’ Association:
The DLPOA is a nonprofit association in existence since 1957 of more than 600 property owners within a designated area in the vicinity of Donner Lake, in the town of Truckee, California. The association maintains a private beach on the west end of the lake and monitors issues affecting the enjoyment and environmental health of the lake. Members pay a one-time initiation fee and yearly dues, which entitle them to access to the beach for their immediate family and guests, as well as a launching area for their boats and a storage area for boats and their trailers. The beach has designated swimming areas, beach volleyball courts, picnic tables, ping-pong tables, horseshoe pits, swings, and restrooms.
See also Truckee & Tahoe Donner (nearby neighborhoods)