Serene Lakes is the largest development on Donner Summit consisting of about 1000 residential lots with more than 80% of the area built out. There is a small community of year-round residents but most are vacation homes. Lake Serena and Lake Dulzura are the two adjoining lakes that make up “Serene Lakes”. Swimming is only allowed in the Southern lake (Dulzura) since Serena serves as our drinking water supply. Serene Lakes is surrounded by a fantastically beautiful area with endless trails for mountain biking and hiking and several incredible alpine lakes. Lakefront properties sell for over a million and are rarely available.
Did you know that. The Serene Lakes used to be called Ice Lakes and were used for ice harvesting in the days before refrigeration. In California, before 1850 there was simply no ice and everybody drank their Coca-Cola warm. From 1850 until 1869, most ice consumed came from Boston and later, Alaska. Serious ice harvesting started on Donner Summit in 1868 with the arrival of the railroad. Joseph M. Graham and the Central Pacific Railroad established warehouses and ice ponds at Serene Lakes which were three separate lakes at that time. Horses were used to scrape snow from the surface exposing the clear ice beneath. The surface was then scribed into a giant checkerboard and the actual harvesting began. As the first blocks were removed a long float channel was opened and soon long lines of men were guiding rafts of ice along the float channel and into an elevator. Steam engines provided the power to lift ice into the storage houses where it was stacked, tier upon tier, to await the demands of summer.