Great Snowshoe Hikes in North Tahoe

Donner Pass Lakes & Boreal Ridge Loop
By leaving a car at Alpine Skills Institute at Donner Pass (seeDonner Peakfor directions), you can arrange a one-way, 2-1/2 mile shuttle trip between the Sno-Park on I-80 and the ASI parking lot on the old Donner Pass Road. However, this plan would eliminate the return trip over Boreal Ridge.

Aside from the potential route-finding problems, this trip would be rated easy, as the distance is short and the terrain is not particularly steep. However, the densely forested, undulating topography over the first mile can be somewhat confusing, requiring a modicum of navigational ability. For those willing to test their skills, the lakes offer pleasant scenery, and the view from the top of Boreal Ridge is splendid.

How to Get There

Just west of Donner Summit take the Castle Peak exit from Interstate 80. Follow signs to the Sno-Park at the east end of the frontage road immediately south of the freeway.


From the east end of the Sno-Park, head into medium forest cover and proceed for a little more than a quarter mile on a course roughly paralleling the freeway. Near the edge of a clearing, turn southeast and head through somewhat convoluted terrain to a hillside three quarters of a mile from the trailhead, from where you should be able to spot Azalea Lake. Descend to the lake, in a basin bounded by rock walls and steep hillsides. Flora Lake is directly south of Azalea through a narrow gap. Both lakes are quite picturesque, providing a serene setting for a rest stop or lunch.

From the second lake, climb south directly over a less wooded rise and descend to the north shore of Lake Angela, the largest of the three lakes. This lake sprawls across open terrain, providing views of the peaks on the south side of the old Donner Pass Road. The pristine nature of the area is compromised by a massive power line running along the west and north sides of the lake and a dam across the south end.

The next stage of your loop trip begins at the northwest tip of Lake Angela, from where a gully rises northwest up the hillside. Proceed up this gully, climbing on a moderate grade through light forest toward the crest of Boreal Ridge. Reach the top directly west of the easternmost high point, labeled 7665 on the Norden topo map. From the ridge you have splendid views of the Donner Pass region.

From the top of Boreal Ridge, descend into heavier forest on the north-facing hillside. Intersect your trail from the Sno-Park approximately three quarters of a mile from the top of the ridge and follow your steps back to the car.

Come in from the Cold

For respite from the cold, see Loch Leven Lakes.

View: Trail Map


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