Forest Service and private campgrounds are spread along the Interstate 80 corridor from Colfax to beyond Truckee, north to Jackson Meadow Lake and south along the Foresthill Road. Many are easily accessible right off I-80. The more secluded campgrounds are found out a variety of side roads. We show them all.
Cyclers find miles of roads, including old Highway 40 and the rolling terrain along Highway 89 near Truckee.
Mountain Bikers enjoy great trails around Prosser Creek Reservoir, up on Donner Summit, over in the Grouse Ridge area, and along the Pioneer Trail.
Donner Summit is home to all kinds of outdoor recreation. Backpackers set off to explore all the lakes in the Grouse Ridge area or out the Pacific Crest Trail. Day Hikers enjoy treks to places such as Castle Peak or around Donner Lake.
Horseback riders set off in all directions, taking advantage of a number of Horse Camps such as Skillman and Little Lasier Meadow. Trail rides lead into Grouse Ridge, up and down the Pacific Crest Trail, along the Pioneer Trail, or to more adventurous places like the Painted Rock Trail or the Tevis Cup route.
Off road enthusiasts have lots of designated areas to explore, from the miles of road and trail around Prosser Hills to the expanse of forest trails out Foresthill Divide. Another popular area is around Fordyce Lake and Eagle Lakes.
With two highways crossing Donner Summit, motorists can choose between speedy Interstate 80 or the slower, more scenic route of old Highway 40. Both have their attractions. Interstate 80 climbs steadily up the western slope passing turnoffs to historic towns such as Colfax, Dutch Flat, and Truckee. The views from I-80 down the eastern side past Donner Lake are dramatic. A turnout part way down the pass offers a great place to look out over Donner Lake and back up toward the summit with views of the transcontinental railroad tunnels and old Highway 40.
Old Highway 40 is the more scenic road, winding through the gold rush era towns from Colfax to Baxter. Beyond Baxter motorists have to use I-80 for a short span up to Cisco Grove where they can pick up Highway 40 once again. From there, you can drive all the way up to Donner Pass and descend the spectacular eastern slope, crossing Rainbow Bridge and winding down to Truckee. For more details about the route, see our page all about Old Highway 40.
Donner Summit has five alpine ski resorts, miles of cross country skiing, and numerous snow play areas.
Boating is popular all up and down Donner Summit from the foothill lakes such as Rollins and Scotts Flat up the pass to places like Spaulding and Lake Valley and on across to the eastern side of the pass. There you'll find lakes like Donner, Boca, Stampede, and French Meadows. Those interested in larger lakes at lower elevations such as Folsom Lake and Bullards Bar can find more information on California's Greatest Lakes.
Fishing is spectacular all around Donner Summit, especially in the famous Truckee River and in some of the bigger reservoirs such as Stampede and Spaulding. With so many destinations available to anglers, it is hard to choose. Our pages cover the small lakes like Fuller and Penner, mountains streams like Sagehen and the Little Truckee, and the depths of Donner Lake.
For even more fishing destinations around Nevada County, see Dave's Sierra Fishing