While Donner Lake Rim Trail and Wendin Way Trail make Johnson Canyon, just above Donner Lake, a popular destination in the summer months, it can be a great place to explore covered in snow with numerous aspects offering routes wandering through open faces and wooded glades.
Depending on the level of difficulty desired, experience in avalanche terrain and snow conditions, snowshoers and skiers can either start from the Wendin Way trailhead just above Donner Lake Interchange, or from the Glacier Way Trailhead in Tahoe Donner. Click here to see a map and for additional information.
From Glacier way, loosely following the Donner Lake Rim Trail out to the picnic area/overlook offers a relatively easy option with a few hills along the way, culminating in amazing views across the top of the canyon, down toward Donner Lake, and out across the Sierra Crest.
From Donner Lake Interchange, you can head up numerous directions depending on snow conditions and safety, passing through willows, Jeffrey pines, fir, mountain alder and aspen with changing views of the surrounding ridges and Donner Lake. While Johnson Canyon can often be very peaceful and serene, it is important to know that snowmobilers also use the area.
Avalanche safety education and equipment are strongly recommended for Johnson Canyon. A beacon check station is available at the Donner Lake Interchange trailhead. Please check Sierra Avalanche Center for daily condition forecasts.