Donner Memorial State Park, around Donner Lake, is the site of where the historic Donner Party stayed and struggled through the... more » horrible winter of 1846-1847. The Party of about 90 people (half adults, half children) had set out for the west in search of land and a better life.
They received a tip from a man named Hastings who promised he could cut off over 300 miles of their route by going through a pass near here. The party met up with Hastings later in the year than expected and he refused to take them because he was already leading a large party. The Donner Party decided to go ahead on their own and soon found themselves in the middle of the earliest and worst winter in many years. Some families went ahead attempting to cross the pass while others stayed near the lake building cabins to wait out the winter.
Eventually after depleting all starvation rations, people began to perish and the surviving members had no choice but to sustain themselves on their loved ones remains. When the winter had ended, only half of the original party had survived.
This short trail will take you along a nearby stream and will point out several trees and other plants native to the area, and you will see the site of where the Murphy Cabin once stood, where a small memorial plaque sits today. less «