Summit Lake is surrounded by forest and some big boulders. The Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT) passes by along its south side. The lake is accessible from Donner Summit via Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Summit Lake Trail and also via DLRT from the three-way junction at the upper end of the Wendin Way Access Trail, coming uphill from the Gregory Creek Trailhead (see sign-post and map on DLRT page).
The distance from this junction to Summit Lake is about 2.5 miles. Just to the left of the junction, after crossing Gregory Creek on a wooden bridge, you'll see a small rock to your right with a plaque saying “In Memory Of Our Parents Charles & Eunice - Happy Trails To All Who Cross Here - From The Quinn Family.” The trail continues along open stretches with nice views, passing two more bridges. The first one is shown here, the second one has to be detoured, since it was severely damaged over winter (but is going to be fixed this fall by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the United States Forest Service). Occassionally the trail merges with Summit Lake road (a dirt road) for short stretches and then veers off again, what is always indicated by a DLRT sign with a directional arrow posted at some tree. When the trail seems to get lost between rocks and trees, you have arrived at the south shore of Summit Lake.