Take a (historical) hike

Courtesy Donner Party Hikes

Hikers can explore the most historically significant square mile in California on Sept. 15 and 16 in the 26th annual Donner Party Hikes. There will be stories, historic photographs, exercise, scenery and fun. Participants can choose from seven hikes on Sept. 15 and a walking tour or a bus tour on Sept. 16. All hikes offer interesting insight into Donner Summit history from local area guides, along with invigorating recreation and beautiful scenery.

Saturday’s hikes begin and end at Sugar Bowl’s Judah Lodge located on Highway 40 on Donner Summit. Guides will lead groups of approximately 15 to 20 people to interpretive spots giving detailed historical information. In the afternoon, hikers will enjoy a hamburger lunch, music by Richard Blair and a presentation by local historian Jim Bonar, an expert on the Lincoln Highway.

There are seven hike options of varying length in between 3 and 6 miles offered on Sept. 15. 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 Mount Judah to see where wagon trains were winched up over the granite. Discover pristine High Sierra Lakes, explore Summit Valley and Native American grinding rocks or check out the railroad snow sheds. Each hike is unique and memorable.

On Sept. 16, a more relaxed walking tour departs from the Donner Camp Picnic Area, located 2.5 miles north of Truckee on State Route 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 the visitors’ center. An alternative is a bus tour of Donner Summit historic sites: petroglyphs, grinding rocks, emigrant wagon-wheel rust marks, the Lincoln Highway and more.

Space is limited for all events and reservations are required. Tickets for Sept. 15 hikes is $60 per hiker. Sept. 16’s walking tour is part of a two-day package and includes the guided walk and entrance to the visitors’ center. The two-day hike package is $85 per hiker. The bus tour of historic Donner Summit is $35. | donnerpartyhike.com