This Trail is most commonly accessed from the Donner Summit Trailhead along I-80 but is shown linked to the other segments in the tradional north to south route of the long-distance Treckers. It can be traveled either way, but north to south is the easiest.
This gentle segment of Pacific Crest Trail, lying between two busy highways, allows great access on both ends of a short hike. Even better, by utilizing well-worn user trails and some cross-country travel, this hike offers family outings and a loop by three nice lakes and rocky vistas. Azalea and Flora Lakes, small lakes, small fish, but grand vista of Castle Peak from Azalea. Angela Lake is private property marred by a power line corridor. No swimming is permitted as Angela provides domestic water, but the lake still offers a nice lunch stop along the loop. Glacial scouring and huge boulders of smooth granite remain silent testaments to the Sierra Nevada’s dramatic geology. Even highway noises merely become buzzing insects in the background. Shuttle opportunities are available at either end but a single loop beginning and ending at I-80 is the favorite option. The user developed trails are not signed and wrong selections offer several dead-end options that either disappear into the rocks or underbrush. But it’s hard to get seriously lost if you have your trusty topographic map handy or use the rush along I-80 to reorient your bearing. I prefer to come in from I-80 until I get to where the Pacific Crest Trail slides down to Highway 40. There I turn right and follow the faint trail marked with ducks (three rocks in a pile) west over the granite to Lake Angela. Then I head north (right) and look for the small gap leading back to Flora Lake after heading under the power line. The unmarked trail snakes by several small un-named lakes. Go around both Flora Lake and Azalea Lake on their west side and just north of Azalea you’ll hit the Pacific Crest Trail again. Turn left (west) if you parked at the I-80 Trailhead.
Topographic map: Norden. From the north and I-80: follow access trail from Trailhead and turn right (south) onto the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Directions from the south and Old Highway 40 (Donner Pass Road) (B): head north at the PCT highway crossing above Donner Ski Ranch. The first step up is steep if traveling from this direction; so most hikers come in from I-80 and return to it without going to Highway 40. Several scenic lakes lie out of sight of the PCT; so my preference is the loop as described.
Equestrian trailhead at Donner Pass.