Registrations are full for this year’s hikes and have been closed.

Saturday hikes will be on Saturday, September 14th, and will begin and end at Sugar Bowl Ski area located on Highway 40 on Donner Summit. Choose one of the seven hikes listed below. Guides lead groups of approximately 15–20 people to interpretive spots giving detailed historical information focused on emigrant and area history. Tickets are $60 per hiker.

Donner Party Hike

Retracing the steps of the Donner Party

In the afternoon enjoy music by Richard Blair, a hamburger lunch and a presentation on the history of Donner Summit from local historians.

Meet at Sugar Bowl Ski Area Mt Judah lodge on Highway 40 (Soda Springs exit off I-80.) Times are listed below.

Groups of hikers will depart once an adequate number has gathered. Note, departure times are estimates and reflect the range of departure times. Your return time will vary based on departure and hike choice. Put on your hiking shoes, choose a hike and explore Truckee’s history.

Difficult, 2.5 miles round trip

North of Old Highway 40 you’ll get great views and a lot of history: the first transcontinental air route weather station remains; Sierra Junipers and the same juniper that Mary Ann North painted in 1884; Lake Angela’s history and how it got its name; Starved Camp of the Donner Party and the Donner rescuees; Catfish Pond; overview of Donne Summit history; the Central Shaft of Tunnel 6, and lots more.

Meet up 8:00 – 8:30 am.

Moderate, 4.5 miles round trip

Donner Peak is Sierra granite. After a walk up the trail you walk up the granite slabs and are rewarded by standing in a notch 1,000 directly above Donner Lake.  One the way, what it looked like in 1910, old pictures of previous conquerors of Donner Pk.  Then there are stories about the Emigrant Trail, marking the trail, Coldstream Canyon and Coldstream Pass, Theodore Judah, the first rope tows on Mt. Judah, how Mt. Judah got its name, etc.

Meet up 8:00 – 8:30 am.


Moderate, 4- 6 miles round trip              

Theodore Judah said snow was not a problem on Donner Summit.  He was wrong as the snowsheds attest.  Learn about the transcontinental RR, Tunnel 6 (two years to build while progress was made at 14” a day), see tool marks left by the Chinese 150 years ago.  Learn about China Wall and see toll marks still there.  Find out about snowsheds.

Meet @ 8:00 – 8:30 am.


Moderate, 4 miles

This walk through Van Norden Meadow in the Summit Valley tells the  history of Van Norden dam and the lake, Native American grinding rocks, metates, and basalt flakes, the Dutch Flat Donner Lake Wagon Rd., the sheep industry and shepherd’s cabin remains. Follow in the footsteps of the Donner Party on the emigrant trail that passed through Van Norden Meadow and brought thousands of settlers to California.

Meet up 8:00 – 8:30 am.

Moderate and about 3.5 miles in length

This is a walk through history and all downhill: the first transcontinental railroad, highway, air route, wagon trains, Sierra Crest, 1914 underpass, ads painted on the rocks 100 years ago and still visible, petroglyphs 2-4000 years old, Chinese RR workers camp, and wonderful views.  Learn about some of the automobile transcontinentalists and some firsts: the first bicyclist over the Sierra, the first auto over the Sierra, and the first motorized crossing of the U.S. (over Donner Summit.)

Meet @ 8:00 – 8:30 am.

Moderate/Strenuous, 6.0 miles round trip
Hike elevation: Start is 7100 feet; Mt. Judah 8200 feet

There are a lot of stories on the way to Roller Pass, discovered in 1846.  Sierra Junipers, Johnny Ellis and his rope tows, Sugar Bowl, Theodore Judah, the Emigrant Trail, Sierra Crest Trail, Weddell markers of the Emigrant Trail, the first locomotives over the summit (they did not go on tracks) and why, Chinese RR workers’ camp, Red Mountain, the first air route, and then on top of Mt. Judah – wow, what a view.

Meet @ 7:30.

Moderate/Strenuous, 6 miles round trip              
Enjoy incredible vistas seen by emigrants as they passed through the High Sierra years ago. Discover hidden alpine lakes while exploring Donner Summit.

Meet @ 7:30.

Hike Map