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Donner Lake is a freshwater lake in northeast Californiamarker on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada and about northwest of the much larger Lake Tahoemarker. A moraine serves as a natural dam for the lake. The lake is located in the town of Truckeemarker, sandwiched between Interstate 80 to the north and Schallenberger Ridge to the south. The tracks of the Union Pacific Railroad run alongSchallenberger Ridge and closely follow the route of the original trans-continental railroad. The historic route of U.S. 40 follows the northern shoreline, then climbs to Donner Passmarker from where the entire lake may be viewed.

Both the lake and the pass were named after the unfortunate Donner Partymarker, which spent its fateful winter near the lake in 1846. A state parkmarker is on the east end of the lake and provides great campsites with access to several different beaches. There are also various hiking trails in the park for visitors to enjoy.

Fishing

The lake's depth has been measured by the California State Lands Commission, to be 328 Feet deep at its deepest point. High water level is 5,935.8 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 holds some of the biggest Lake Trout in the state. There is also a good population of Rainbow and Brown Trout as well as Kokanee Salmon. Fisherman use downriggers and troll with plugs for Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout in order to catch the trophy sized Lake Trout. During the Spring and Fall season, Lake Trout come to the top to feed and this is the only time of year one has the chance to hook a Laker in shallow water.

A public boat ramp operated by the Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks District is available in the northwest corner of Donner Lake. There is a fee charged for boat launching. The lake is open to both power and sail boats.

Recreation

 
Standing on North East shore, looking across towards Donner Pass

Donner Memorial State Park wraps around the East and part of the South shore of the Lake, encompassing Scallenberger Ridge to the south. Summer activities include, camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, wind-surfing hiking and mountain biking. Winter activities include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Park features the Pioneer Monument, welcoming visitors year round, which was built to commemorate the Donner Partymarker traveling to California from the east in the mid-1800s. The statue itself is positioned 23 feet high, which is said to be the snow height snow during the winter of 1846 when the Donner Party failed to make it over the pass.

The North shore of the Lake hosts of public docks for both swimmers and boaters. Every year the town of Truckee hosts the Donner Lake Triathlon which consists of the Sprint Triathlon: swim, bike, run and the International Triathlon: , , run.

Hiking
Hiking through Donner Memorial State Park
There's roughly of hiking trails inside the Park. Visitors can legally park in Coldstream Canyon (right passed the 76 gas station) which contains the alignment of the primary Emigrant Trail, which leads up to U.S. Forest Service and the Pacific Crest trails beyond the park. Donner lake is roughly around which also makes for a great hike.

CampingThere are 154 sites to camp at in the park and a day-use area along the lake. A lakeside interpretive trail has 18 panels which discuss the natural and cultural resources in the local area.
Sunset, March 2009





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