August 2018 - Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center


Base camp for equestrian vacation adventures in North Lake Tahoe

by Nan Meek

Tucked away in the sleepy mountain town of Truckee, perched above I-80 along Donner Lake in the heart of the High Sierra, Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center is North Lake Tahoe’s vacation haven for horse lovers from June 1 through the end of September.

Vacationing horse lovers of all ages and abilities can find just the right equestrian activities to make marvelous memories, from trail rides with your own horse or guided rides on Tahoe Donner’s experienced and well-trained trail horses, to pony rides and horsemanship camps for young equestrians, to private riding lessons and special events. Short- and long-term horse boarding makes a vacation getaway with your horse as easy as making a reservation.

Exploring the Sierra on Horseback

Trail rides through high mountain forests and upland meadows lush with wildflowers and wildlife offer sightings of quail, grouse, squirrels, rabbits, marmots, beavers, deer and the occasional mountain lion or black bear. California’s largest aspen grove, just minutes from the Equestrian Center, makes the aspen trail one of Tahoe Donner’s favorites, especially in September when its brilliant colors paint the landscape. Another favorite trail winds down into the Euer Valley, where a pristine river flows through verdant meadows encircled by stands of pine, fir and cedar that climb the surrounding mountains and provide shaded trails.

Camping at Tahoe Donner’s Alder Creek Campground provides a taste of the great outdoors along with indoor conveniences such as bathrooms and showers, while a variety of rental accommodations available nearby through Airbnb and other online sources caters to tastes from basic to luxurious. With convenient access to Lake Tahoe, Reno and a wealth of recreational amenities throughout the Sierras, Tahoe Donner is a base camp for equestrian vacation adventures and family fun. 

Best Kept Secret in the Sierras

Unique among equestrian vacation destinations, Tahoe Donner is one of America’s largest homeowner associations, with nearly 6,500 properties and 25,000 members enjoying over 7,300 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Located 25 minutes from Lake Tahoe, the association operates a wide variety of recreational facilities, some open to members only, others open to the public. The Equestrian Center is open to everyone.

Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center offers the best long- and short-term horse boarding options in the Lake Tahoe region. Monthly, weekly and overnight boarding options accommodate the needs of every owner and every horse.

“Horse boarding at Tahoe Donner is particularly great for travelers passing through for a night or two, especially since Tahoe Donner Campground is just down the road and many short-term rentals are available nearby,” says Krystal-Rae Mecham, manager of Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center. “We can accommodate up to 27 boarded horses, and horse owners don’t need to be Tahoe Donner members to board here.”

All boarding includes twice-daily feeding of up to two flakes of grass and/or alfalfa hay, and daily watering and cleaning. Partially covered 12’x24’ and deluxe 24’x24’ pipe paddocks are available, all providing great access to more than 60 miles of the Tahoe Donner Trail System. Equestrian staff members tend to the horses by day, and a dedicated caretaker stays with them overnight.

Trail and Pony Rides

Tahoe Donner Equestrian Center is home to 20 geldings and three mares that spend their summers on trail rides and in the arena. They enjoy many perks including frequent treats, baths and rubdowns, plus all the love they can handle from riders and campers.

“It’s awesome to provide opportunities for everyone in the family to experience these beautiful animals,” Mecham says. “We have pony rides for ages 2-6, trail rides for ages 7 and up, and horsemanship camp for ages 8 and up. Parents and grandparents can have a great experience with kids, or send them with our amazing guides for an unforgettable ride.”

Guided one- and two-hour trail rides are offered every Wednesday through Sunday, and pony rides are available for children under the minimum trail ride age of 7. All riders are matched with a trail-wise horse based on their size and experience. A new ADA-compliant loading ramp – one of several recent upgrades – makes it easy to mount up and head out, and experienced guides lead the way.

Private lessons and group rides are also available.

Horsemanship Camps & Events

Each summer, the Equestrian Center is home to multiple sessions of five-day horsemanship camps for riders ages 8-14. A four to one student to instructor ratio provides highly individualized instruction.


“As a parent, it’s amazing to see your kids develop so much self-confidence and self-esteem in a week of working with the horses,” says Trish Collins, a Tahoe Donner member whose son Trey and daughter Isabelle have attended camp multiple times. “They work with the same horse all week and are able to develop a real relationship, and it shows.”

The Equestrian Center hosts special events all summer long to unite and celebrate the equestrian community. Events this month and next begin with a Saturday Night BBQ Aug. 4 and include several Cowgirls + Cocktails trail rides with after-ride cocktail socials, and Pancakes & Ponies family breakfast get-togethers.


Tahoe Donner offers a range of recreational amenities beyond riding, to round out vacation fun for riders and the rest of the family. The Tahoe Donner Golf Course is the highest-elevation course in Tahoe and one of the premier public courses in the High Sierra. Bike rentals and family-friendly bingo on the lawn offer more family fun. Home rentals from Tahoe Donner members via Airbnb or similar services include access to the private Beach Club Marina on Donner Lake, along with pools, fitness center, tennis center and much more located within Tahoe Donner. Plus, historic Truckee and legendary Lake Tahoe are minutes away.

For more information, visit or call 530-587-9470 for equestrian reservations, or 530-587-9400 for general information.