Donner Lake: Tahoe, California’s Best Kept Secret

Find out what makes Donner Lake, a little paradise outside Tahoe, one of California's best-kept secrets. Photographer Tim Felton (@tfelton).

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Growing up in Western Massachusetts has been incredible, but I always find myself longing for breaks from school and heading with my family to Donner Lake, California, a little paradise outside Tahoe. It has become my home away from home, and these are my favorite things about it:

Donner Lake at Golden Hour

Nestled in a tiny cove on Donner Lake, we have a lake house that has been in the family for generations. Here, we spend hours by the lake and on the water, enjoying warm summer air and taking in the beauty of the Sierras. The lake is best seen at sunrise or sunset, the calmness of the waters and changing skies make for an incredible view.

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A-Frame Cabins

It seems that everywhere you turn, a cozy cabin is right in front of you. For anyone who loves A-frames or rustic cabin architecture, this lake holds more than you could possibly imagine. After spending the day on the water, we like to grab some ice cream from Little Truckee Creamery and meander around the lake. It’s during these evening walks that I fall in love with the beautiful lake cabins again and again.

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Donner Pass

Donner Pass sits overlooking the mountains and the lake, with numerous hikes to satisfy any kind of hiker. The top of the Donner Summit showcases views that are well worth the hike. Every summer, we hike the notch and play in the snow that stays there almost all year.

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Emerald Bay

Just an hour drive from Donner is Emerald Bay on Lake Tahoe. Sunrise here is beyond breathtaking and well worth waking up at 4:30am.

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San Francisco Day Trip

Any time we visit, we head over to the Bay Area to walk around San Francisco and enjoy the city. Taking the ferry is my favorite (photogenic) way to get into the city, and it allowed me to capture the city with my wide angle lens. Taking a break from the nature to explore the city is always a highlight.

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Tim Felton

Tim Felton is an 18 year old photographer from Western Massachusetts. During his time living abroad in Salzburg, Austria, he developed a love for photography and capturing the outdoors. Travel has become a huge part of his life and he hopes to visit every continent by the time he turns 25. He will be attending Cornell University starting this fall and has plans to continue his photography while studying applied economics and management.

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