21st Annual Donner Party Hike adds new 2013 hike

Special to the Sun
Donner Party Hikers retrace the paths of ancient peoples, emmigrants.

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Hikers can travel the footsteps of early emigrant’s journey across the Sierra Nevada mountains Oct. 5 and 6 as participants in the 21st Annual Donner Party Hike.

Participants may choose from seven different hikes on Saturday, and a walking tour on Sunday. All hikes offer interesting insight into emigrant history from local area guides, along with invigorating recreation and beautiful scenery.

New this year is the Summit Meadows hike, which travels along Lake Van Norden with stops to see rocks with mortars and other remnants of emigrants passing through. This area, known as Royal Gorge, was recently acquired by the Truckee Donner Land Trust, and might be one of the most important conservation victories for the Sierra in a generation. Now, all of Royal Gorge’s remarkable meadows, peaks, natural resources and the Nordic ski area have been protected forever and will be open to the public for recreation.

In addition to the new hike, there are six other hike options of varying length offered on Saturday. Explore the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Road and 1913 Corridor Lincoln Highway with views of petroglyphs, old roadside billboards and the China Wall. Hike up Roller Pass and/or Mt. Judah to see where wagon trains were winched up over the granite. Discover pristine Sierra lakes. Each hike offers a unique and memorable experience.

Following the Saturday hikes, participants will enjoy a hamburger lunch and a presentation by Ethan Rarick, author of “Desperate Passage — the Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West.” This up-to-date narrative history of the Donner Party provides a fascinating and compelling look at this frontier drama.

Sunday starts with a more relaxed walking tour departing from the Donner Camp Picnic Area, located on 2.5 miles north of Truckee on Highway 89. Following the walking tour where guides will detail the Donner Party’s encampment, participants will drive to Donner Memorial State Park to hear more about the Donner Party, the Pioneer Monument, visit the Murphy’s Cabin Site, and enjoy entrance to the museum offering a movie about the Donner Party.

Saturday’s hikes begin and end at the Mt. Judah lodge at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort located on Highway 40 on Donner Summit. Guides will lead groups of approximately 10-20 people to interpretive spots giving detailed historical information focused on emigrant and area history.

Space is limited for all events and reservations are required. Early registration for the Saturday hikes is $45 ($50 after Sept. 20, 2013) per hiker and includes a guided hike, commemorative ball cap, hamburger lunch and afternoon presentation. Sunday’s walking tour is $15 and includes the guided walk and entrance to the Emigrant Trail Museum. A two-day hike package is $60 ($65 after Sept. 20, 2013).

Complete hike descriptions and registration forms can be found at or by contacting the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce at 530-587-8808.

Sponsors of this event include: Cedar House Sport Hotel, Donner Lake Village, Donner Memorial State Park, Donner Summit Historical Society, Hampton Inn and Suites Tahoe-Truckee, Inn at Truckee, Northstar California, Sugar Bowl Ski Area, Town of Truckee, Truckee Donner Historical Society, Truckee Donner Lodge, Truckee Hotel, the U.S. Forest Service, and Wild Cherries Coffee House.

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