Three Beginner Snowshoe Trails in Truckee

At the time of writing this (mid-February 2021), Josh and I have both put in over 30 days on our boards and skis at the resorts. Snowboarding is one of my favorite hobbies, but this week I felt like it was time to mix things up a bit. I had never really tried showshoeing before, but since I love to hike in the summer and fall, I figured I would probably enjoy this too.

To start out, I researched a couple of trails I was familiar with on the All Trails app. I figured this would be a good place to start since recent snowshoers and hikers leave comments on conditions. I also went to the Sierra Avalanche Center website to see what the avalanche risk was. Even though the trails I ended up choosing have virtually no avalanche risk, it’s still good to get in the habit of knowing the conditions before heading out in the snow.

After completing my research, I ended up selecting three snowshoe trails that I would define as “beginner” level. None of them are too long or have substantial elevation gain. I’ve shared the details for what we did this week below so you can enjoy these trails as well. Happy snowshoeing!

Emigrant Trail Loop via Donner Campground

Snowshoeing out towards Prosser off Emigrant Trail

This trail is a fairly easy 4.5 mile loop starting at Donner Campground. The parking lot is not plowed, so there is limited parking just off of 89. If you’ve never done this trail before, the snow can make the trailhead a little difficult to find, so I suggest using the All Trails app to guide you. Josh and I took a variation of the route linked and went off to the right at the 1.5 mile point towards Posser Reservoir and the 2 miles point towards Prosser Creek.

Length: 4.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 308 ft.

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level

Trail Type: Out and Back/Loop

Dogs Allowed? Yes

Donner Summit Canyon

My sister and I at the viewpoint of Donner Summit Canyon

Donner Summit Canyon is a great entry level snowshoe trail with the reward of a unique view of Donner Lake. From downtown, the trailhead is just past Donner Lake as you start to go uphill on Donner Pass road. Similar to other trailheads in the winter, the parking lot isn’t really cleared, so parking is limited. A lot of this trail follows the old Dutch Flat/Donner Lake Wagon Road, which was accessed by the first wagon train to come to California. The people who rescued the Donner Party, who escaped from Donner Lake, and who were rescued from Donner Lake also came through here (more history here).

Length: 3.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 547 ft.

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level

Trail Type: Out and Back/Loop

Dogs Allowed? Yes

Johnson Canyon Overlook

Founder Trooper enjoying the snow at the top of Johnson Canyon

Johnson Canyon is a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located up in Tahoe Donner. This trail follows the Donner Rim Trail and has great views of Donner Lake and Johnson Canyon. The trailhead can be accessed on Glacier Way Road off of Skislope Way. There is a decent size parking lot here, however it does get quite busy on the weekends, even in the winter months.

Length: 3.9 Miles

Elevation Gain: 410 ft.

Difficulty:  Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level

Trail Type: Out and Back

Dogs Allowed? Yes

Where else have you been snowshoeing in the area? Let me know in the comments πŸ™‚

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