The Donner Camp Picnic Site is located north of Truckee, California. This easy 1/3 mile interpretive trail offers a glimpse of what the Donner Party went through here in the winter of 1846-47. Six trailside signs are personalized with excerpts from Donner Party member’s letters and diaries. What started out as a hopeful journey towards prosperity ended tragically for the 89 member Donner Party. During the winter of 1846-47, snow trapped the George and Jacob Donner families here in Alder Creek Valley. Others were stranded six miles to the southwest at Donner Lake. Nearly half of the Donner Party died in these mountains. The rest survived the ordeal with bitter memories of cold, hunger and death. A sign at this spot includes the following:
The large ponderosa pine snag and downed log in front of you was once thought to be the tree that supported the George and Tamzene family shelter. Survivor and rescuer accounts state that the actual shelter tree was cut down for firewood that winter. An archaeological excavation revealed no evidence of a campsite at this tree. However, evidence of a Donner campsite was found a short distance from here.