Following a relaxing night enjoying the many dining and lodging opportunities in Nevada City, you can start your day with a delicious breakfast at the South Pine Café located at 110 South Pine St., Nevada City.
The tour will begin at the Nevada County Railroad Museum, located at 5 Kidder Court in Nevada City, with an historical perspective of the railroad and its economic importance to the Donner Summit area and California’s agriculture.
Before you leave Nevada City be sure to get some snacks for a picnic along the tour or plan to stop at The Summit Restaurant & Bar in Soda Springs for lunch.
Proceed up Hwy 20 to I-80 and follow I-80 North toward Truckee. Take the exit at Cisco Grove, where Old Highway 40 winds its way up to Donner Summit. The ranger station has a museum inside with information about the area. Across Old Hwy 40 from the ranger station, note the Lincoln Highway sign on the garage. Walk behind the garage to see a Lincoln Highway memorial and a Lincoln Highway marker. You can follow the Lincoln Highway west for a ways as it winds among cabins and along the Yuba River. The first stop in summit area was the wintering site of the first group of immigrants to cross the Sierra Nevada in 1844-45.
The next stop is the new Donner Summit Historical Society Museum in Soda Springs, which highlights the history of the Emigrant Trail and skiing in the area.
Continue on Old Hwy 40 North to Donner Summit. Park in the visitors parking area at the summit. Extraordinary vistas will roll out before you. Also, view the China Wall, built by the Chinese for the transcontinental railroad in 1867. Leave Old 40 and hike up toward the wall. Also, hike up west of the visitors’ area and explore the Native American petroglyphs carved into the granite rock.
Continue north on Old Hwy 40 to Donner Memorial State Park. Don’t miss the Emigrant Trail Museum.
After visiting the park, head down to the town of Truckee to explore boutique shops, wonderful dining and a variety of lodging opportunities.