Truckee's Four Best (non-Donner) Lakes


Summer in the mountains is all about those lake days. We are so very lucky to have an abundance of alpine lakes in the area, in fact, it's hard to find a hike that doesn't include passing by a lake or two on the way to the summit. And while we love spending our days at Donner Lake, there are many other lake-day adventures to be had. While summer is still going strong, don't miss out on these four awesome lakes in Truckee.

Summit Lake

The pup enjoying a swim in Summit Lake. 

The pup enjoying a swim in Summit Lake. 

To get to Summit Lake, you will have to hike two miles in and two miles back along a relatively flat section of the PCT. It should take an hour max to get to the lake and once you’re there, you will see why we love it. The lake is nestled into the gorgeous Donner scenery, with tall peaks surrounding it. We love bringing hammocks with us to string between the many trees that line the lake for a relaxing afternoon. The lake is quiet and peaceful. If you’re feeling more adventurous, further down the same stretch of PCT you can get to the Frog Lake Overlook or Warren Lake (those are strenuous hikes, though!). To get to the trailhead, exit 80 at Boreal and follow signs to the PCT. There is ample parking and day-use facilities.

Prosser Creek Reservoir

Prosser is easy to access! Photo from  Visit Truckee . 

Prosser is easy to access! Photo from Visit Truckee

We bet you’ve heard of Prosser before, but it makes our favorites list because of the abundance of recreation possibilities and because of how easy it is to reach it from Truckee. Prosser is home to one of the largest OHV tracks in Truckee, but it’s also a stunning place to go fishing, kayaking, SUP, camping, biking, hiking, or swimming with the pups. If there are too many people at Donner Lake, you’ll catch us at Prosser for the day.

Shirley Lake

Enjoying Shirley's shores, photo from  Squaw .

Enjoying Shirley's shores, photo from Squaw.

To be fair, we like Shirley Lake so much because of the journey to get there. Hiking up Shirley canyon the steep, 2 miles to Shirley Lake is one of our favorite summer traditions. Along the hike in, you can see Squaw Valley’s gorgeous granite, meadows, waterfalls, and vistas. The actual lake is shallow, especially later in the summer, but it’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic in an alpine setting, just remember to pack it out. And while we might not be able to enjoy a swim, our dogs certainly do. Since the trail is hard to follow, Squaw advises that hikers keep the creek on your left side and follow it down until you arrive at the base of the mountain. Find more information on Squaw's website.

Serene Lakes

Serene, sandy beaches! Photo from  Tahoe Activities . 

Serene, sandy beaches! Photo from Tahoe Activities

A short drive from Truckee are the two connected lakes, Serena and Dulzura, that make up the Serene Lakes. This area holds all of the beauty of Donner Summit, while escaping the crowds. The lakes truly embody their name. Motorized boats are not allowed on either of the lakes and fishing and water sports are restricted to Dulzura. We love hiking around the shores to look for arrowheads and petroglyphs left behind by local Native American tribes who fished in the lakes for thousands of years. The lake is still very popular for fishing because of the abundance of rainbow and lake trout. You’ll catch us here any chance we can for a mini escape. To get there, take the Soda Springs exit on 80. Travel on Soda Springs Road to Serene Road, which will take you around the lake.