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Donner Party Hike

Festival Event

Hikers look over Lake Mary – Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce

Ages Festival is Appropriate For


The annual Donner Party Hike is sponsored by the Truckee Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with the Donner Summit Historical Society, to share the area’s beautiful scenery, recreational opportunities, and significant role in our nation’s emigrant history.

The unforgiving Sierra Nevada winter of 1846-47 started early, setting the stage for what was to become an incredibly agonizing story of human desperation and determination. In April of 1846 the Donner Party set out to reach California. A series of errors, mishaps and tragedy followed in their footsteps. Reaching the base of the Sierra just as an early winter storm set in, their fate was sealed, forcing them to stay the winter. Split into two camps, one at the base of what is now Donner Lake, and the other at Alder Creek, the emigrants faced unimaginable perils. Relief finally came in March, with few of the original party surviving.

The annual Donner Party Hike offers one or two days of emigrant history and more.Choose from six guided hikes that will explore different aspects of emigrant and early Truckee history while enjoying dramatic Sierra Nevada scenery. Guides lead groups of approximately 15–20 people to interpretive spots while sharing detailed information along the trail.

Saturday hikes will begin and end at Donner Ski Ranch located on Highway 40 on Donner Summit. In the afternoon enjoy a hamburger lunch and an afternoon presentation by McAvoy Layne portraying Mark Twain.
Sunday’s walking tours focus specifically on the tragedy of the Donner Party. We start at Alder Creek, where the Donner family was forced to stay the winter. Hear of the grueling travel and mishaps of the Donner Party and the archeological finds at this location.


Admission Fee (if any)

$75 per hiker Saturday; 2-day package $100, after 10/3 $85 and $110 respectively