The Donner Party Hike – where history comes alive |

The Donner Party Hike – where history comes alive

Greg Palmer, senior Donner Party Hike volunteer guide, lends enthusiasm and a wealth of local history from 1844 to the present druing the tours.

The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce is proud to present Mark McLaughlin, a.k.a. “The Storm King,” as featured speaker at the 16th Annual Donner Party Hike Oct. 4 and 5, 2008.

Saturday focuses on emigrant history and more, with participants going on one of six guided interpretive hikes, enjoying a barbecue, and the special presentation by McLaughlin.

Sunday focuses specifically on the Donner Party with a leisurely guided interpretive walk at the Donner Party encampment site, then traveling to Donner Memorial State Park for more discussion about the Donner Party, and entrance to the Emigrant Trail Museum and state park. Participants can register for one or two days.

McLaughlin, an expert in the study of weather and how it shapes history, has lived more than 30 years in the rugged Sierra, an area rich in history and prone to incomparable weather. As a professional weather historian and long-time resident of the Sierra, McLaughlin has dedicated much of his research, writing and photography to the volatile and wild winters that have challenged mountain travelers and residents in the Tahoe region since the earliest pioneers and settlers. He is perhaps foremost in understanding how climatic factors contributed to the demise of the ill-fated Donner Party during the relentless and drastic Sierra winter of 1846-47.

In addition to appearing on the History Channel, CNN and the Weather Channel, McLaughlin is the award-winning author/photographer of four books and more than 500 print articles about the history of the Tahoe-Truckee region.

For more information or to register, visit or call 587-8808.

The Hikes: More than the Donner Party

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008

Beginning and ending above elevation 7,000 feet at Sugar Bowl Lodge, six different morning hikes offer a variety of terrain and level of difficulty. Each guided hike offers a different perspective on history, and vary from four to six and a half miles in length. Participants may choose the degree of difficulty to which they are best suited (from moderate to strenuous) while learning of unique historical forces that have shaped the Tahoe-Truckee region.

From ancient petroglyphs to mountains scarred by overland wagons to railroad snowsheds, the annual Donner Party Hike opens a window onto history afforded by no other single event. Learn about the success of the Stephens Party of 1844, the tragic events of the infamous Donner Party, the growth of the area’s ice and timber industries, and the importance of the transcontinental railroad in shaping the west and the Sierra, all while enjoying the magnificence of Donner Summit’s panoramic views.

Saturday’s guided interpretive hikes will be followed by a barbecue lunch and a presentation by renowned historian Mark McLaughlin, a.k.a “The Storm King.”

Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008

Sunday’s easy walking tours focuses specifically on the Donner Party, and will especially interest those eager about history but hesitant about high-altitude hiking. The day begins Sunday at Donner Camp Picnic Area at Alder Creek with a presentation on the Donner Party’s ill-fated journey, and about recent archeological finds at this Donner Party encampment. Participants will then drive approximately eight miles to Donner Memorial State Park to view the Murphy Cabin Site and Pioneer Monument. Entrance to the Emigrant Trail Museum is free to all Sunday participants.

For complete hike descriptions, visit or phone 587-8808.

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