When you think of California, you might imagine the hills of San Francisco or the glamour of LA, but the state has more to offer than just big cities. Traveling north, you’ll find fertile wine valleys and scenic mountain views. If you are headed into the Tahoe area, don’t miss our favorite little town that’s located just off the beaten path.
Welcome to Truckee CA, a railroad hub from the gold mining days that is quintessentially Californian. Truckee was built as a lodging town in the 1800’s. Located on the outskirts of the Sierra Nevadas, it stills serves its purpose as a perfect place to rest after a long trek through the mountains. The miles of still running train tracks and classic architecture will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of an old western film.
Donner Memorial and State Park
You may have heard of Truckee in reference to Donner-Reed expedition. History books tell the story of how the party was trapped in the Sierras after a record snow storm. Some legends say that in their desperation, the group of pioneers resorted to cannibalism. Although there is little evidence to prove this, the gruesome tale serves as a testament to the difficulties of westward expansion. You can learn about their tragic story and Manifest Destiny in at the Emigrant Trail Museum. This tiny yet well curated museum is free to visitors, (although you will need to pay for parking).
If spooky stories of the wild west aren’t your thing, you can check out the towns more amicable history.
The name “Truckee” originated from a very helpful Paiute Chief whose greeting to the first westward travelers was “Tro-kay!” which is Paiute for “Everything is all right”. Mistakenly thinking he was giving them his name, they decided to honor him by naming the new town “Truckee”.
Chief “Truckee” was prophetic, because the town is now a laid back mountain community where you’ll feel like everything’s all right. Donner Lake offers the same alpine experience as Tahoe without as many crowds. Enjoy your afternoon boating, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing or just lounging in the sun.
Hiking and Skiing
Water sports aren’t the only reason Truckee is a perfect adventure destination. There are over 8 miles of hiking paths in the state park alone. We use the REI Hiking Project app to find new trails each time we visit. If you are visiting in the winter, you can hit the slopes at Northstar, Sugar Bowl, or Boreal Mountain Ski Resort. Truckee is also less than 20 minutes away from the world famous Squaw Valley Resort, which was home to the 1960 Winter Olympics.
After a day in the sun or snow, you’ll have worked up an appetite. Lucky for you, the nearby culinary offerings do not disappoint. Downtown Truckee offers you a taste California’s culinary scene in small town setting. If you are looking for comfort food, stop by Jax at the Tracks as featured on the Food Network. Follow up your dinner with a drink and live music at Bar of America.
Interested in a more sophisticated evening? Enjoy an olive oil tasting at Tahoe Oil and Spice before sitting down to eat at Moody’s Bistro Bar & Beats. Their homemade pasta and craft cocktails give San Francisco’s swankiest bars a run for their money. Of course, you can’t leave without a glass of vino! The Pour House has over 500 wines from around the world.
No matter where you end up for dinner and libations, you are sure to feel the history and liveliness of Truckee. The town’s storied past and adventurous atmosphere embody a spirit of California that is not to be missed!