Who knew snowshoeing was magical? My family found it so during a two-hour trek in Donner Memorial State Park. With the snow softly falling and our pockets lined with snacks, our Tahoe Adventure Company guide Jill took us out into the forest near Donner Lake. Yes, this is the area where the tragedy of the Donner Party unfolded but luckily there would be no repeat of a deadly pioneer tale today. Civilization is closer now than it was back then, and the folks at Tahoe Adventure Company know what they’re doing!
There was never any doubt that Jill had the lay of the land well in hand! She knew several routes out to the shores of the frigid lake because she blazed a new one each time. The state park does have a series of well-groomed and slick trails to navigate, but those are perfect for cross-country skiers and hikers. To trudge through the trees on snowshoes is to really experience the pioneer history of this area. (Note: this is my impression, and I expect it would make any local laugh).
Jill pointed out animal tracks --- nothing dangerous was lurking; we saw where mice, deer, and other rodents had dared to tread. We learned about the trees and the irresponsible forestation in the area that dates back to the Gold Rush. I had no idea how many pine needles were edible or could be utilized to make a savory tea before this hike either.
As the forest’s edge got closer, the frozen waters of Donner Lake came into view. What a site! I have spent many a summer weekend at Donner Lake, so seeing it this way was really something. It appeared to be hibernating. We took a moment with this cold, icy view before trekking back to the state park’s main hub. The snow was coming down at a steadier pace, but it was still fun to be out there.
We finished our snowshoe tour with hot chocolate and cider, toasting our adventure. I highly recommend booking this adventure. It was an easily manageable activity for a group of varying fitness levels. In our group, we had my teenage son, the Energizer Bunny as I like to call him, my husband, the triathlete, and me bringing up the rear with my bad knees. Luckily, no one can get far on snowshoes quickly, so I wasn’t too far behind! No prior snowshoeing experience is needed.
Here's what’s included in this activity:
- Hot drinks
Tip for a successful tour: Tahoe Adventure Company will email a list of recommended clothing and items to make you more comfortable during your activity. READ IT and ADHERE TO IT! Your guide really wants you to enjoy yourself so take their advice.