Donner Camp Trail at Alder Creek

Not as well known as the museum at Donner Lake, the primitive nature of this spot, Donner Historic Camp Site at Alder Creek, invites you to imagine the hardships that the Donner Party experienced.

Part of the Donner group was trapped here in 1846-47 by an early and severe snowstorm, and their own delay, caused in part by an ill-conceived "shortcut." We tend to think of pioneering as "men's work," but the interpretive materials located along this gentle, short trail pay powerful tribute to the strength of the Donner women, who died here while most of their children survived.

This is a place to contemplate the families who brought only what they could carry and risked everything to come to the promised land of California.

Restrooms and picnic tables are available at this unstaffed historic site.  The Donner Historic Camp Site at Alder Creek is easy to find on Highway 89 North, about 2 1/2 miles north of I-80.


Latitude: 39.3757104 Longitude: -120.1808167 Elevation: 5794 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Morgan Staines

Trail Distance

1/3 mile. This interpretive trail is a flat, partial boardwalk.

Eco-Friendly Notes

Pack it in. Pack it out.

ADA Accessibility Notes

This trail is a flat, partial boardwalk and is accessible, unless it is wet outside.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are welcome on leash.


We visited Donner Camp Trail for a Mother’s Day picnic and hike. There was an abundance of pretty yellow wildflowers throughout the site and a few interspersed purple flowers in the shaded areas. The snow covered mountains in the distance are easily viewed about halfway into the hike across the meadows. Informative plaques strategically placed along the trail unfold the tragic story of the Donner Party. There’s a picnic area with tables next to the parking lot and an easy, level meandering trail with wooden walkways and bridges over the creeks and swampy areas. A great place to experience nature, learn history and enjoy scenic meadow views!

Stephanie, 5/13/2019

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