What Are We Up To


Trails West Conference June 3rd to 5th, 2024 at the Carson Valley Inn & Casino


One registration form per person/family. Please note you must be a member of Emigrant Trails West to
attend the conference. The conference fee is $50.00 per attendee, which includes lectures, reception, an
evening banquet and entertainment, the Donovan Mill, and the Hope Valley Tours. 


Members of Emigrant Trails West please register via the Latest News for Members, Trails West Conference June 3-5, 2024. 




Non-Trails West attendees who wish to join on the day of the conference are limited to only 6 new members. Membership dues are discounted to $20 per individual and $30 per family




Trails West offers several field trips every field season. Mostly between May and October.


For insurance reasons, anyone attending any of our trips must be a member of Trails West.


For the 2024 season we are planning on the following outings:


May – The California Trail from the beginning in Idaho to where it meets the Humboldt River near Elko, Nevada


May – We will be out on the Black Rock Playa where the Applegate and Nobles Trail emigrants struggled and camped. We will go to several of the emigrant’s campsites and possibly to where Peter Lassen was murdered.


September – The Hastings Cutoff and Pack Trails. One day will be on the wagon route and the other following the pack trail route.


September – Beckwourth Trail. We will follow the trail from the Reno area to its end in Marysville.


Henness Pass – Date to be announced.


Central Overland Trail – Date to be announced.



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During the year, we usually have several one day trips to do marker maintenance and move markers to better locations. If you would like to be advised of when these are happening, contact our Trail Activity Coordinator at the email address below.



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We could use your help!!


With all the markers we have out on the trails, many of them are getting to where they need maintenance work. Attached here is an updated PDF version of our Inspection Report form that can be printed out and it would be a great help if anyone out on a trail would take a copy along and fill it out as they pass by a marker. It would also be a big help if you would fill it out even if a marker is fine. That way we’ll know that someone won’t need to make a special trip to check it. Here is a Word version of the form that you should be able to fill out on your computer and then attach to an email back to us at:



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Thanks, this would be a big help in our continuing efforts to maintain our markers.






We, as an organization, have certain responsibilities on our outings. Because of that, we have developed a set of Rules & Requirements that each participant must adhere to when joining us on one of our trips. You may review them by clicking here.


If you do not have the type of necessary vehicle and are still interested in joining us on a trip, please contact the trip leader. Many times there will be room in someone else’s rig and arrangements can be made to accommodate an extra passenger or two.




Do you enjoy



Trails of the West?

Then Read on to the latest Trails West Adventure…

Report of the Lassen Historical District Group- November 5th, 2023-


The group met at the Woods corrals and the goal was to explore an area of an early road that ran  parallel to the Lassen Masonic Hall Branch of  the Lassen Trail.  This new road which ran east from the first Masonic Hall in California terminated at the Marysville to Shasti Road, Halley House / Masonic Hall intersection and ran .61 miles to the east and re-connects to the main branch, just north of the dam of the Lassen Reservoir we call Lake Cunningham. Today’s search area was a section 232 yards from the main gate to 464 yards. In attendance were Meg and Frank Zbierski, Richard Starch, Archaeologist Seth Owens, Mouse, Abbey and me.


This spring this new road section was highlighted by a broad swath of yellow flowers and had 19 cross avenues of the newly found Benton City subdivision.



The road in this section was searched and there was a moderate concentration of artifacts as it descended to the flat area where it crossed the northeast corner of 1844 Lassen Garden.


This once irrigated area is rather flat in topography and as such is subject to flooding in wet weather. Around 1900 Leyland Stanford constructed a canal around this corner of the garden skirting this flat region and as such his canal isolated this section of newly found road.  Of note, this section of trail has singular wagon ruts visible when this area is subject to heavy rains. I know of no other  emigrant trail section which manifests this singular rut features.


On arrival we parked a safe distance from the rut features to not disturb the frail formations.



The group focused on the original LIDAR marked track made this winter which was in line of the gate at the Woods / Rumiano gate adjacent to the Masonic Hall and a wood timber we moved to mark the crossing at the east end of our search area and flagging on the Stanford’s canal was added for reference on the west end.


Metal detectors quickly started their reports of metal being found. Time and time again collection of nails, both cut and wire were encountered with copious amounts of wagon and tack artifacts. About half a dozen conical and lead ball projectiles were also found. It became clear that this area was very hard on the wagons with harness and wagon artifacts showing major distress. Broken trace chain links and major wagon washers signaled the hard time the wagons had passing this flat. Horseshoes were another common find as the clay soil was clearly sucking the shoes off the animals. A very disfigured draft shoe was also noted.



Artifacts reflected that use of this route mirrored the later travelers heading to the Upper Feather River Mines at Rich Bar and Indian Valley. We also metal detected on either side (north and south) of the LIDAR road route and found these areas were completely devoid of artifacts. Two artifacts were found which were not readily identified. The first one which was found was a copper tube about 1/4 inch in diameter and 1 inch in length, which was enclosed at one end and the other was packed with some sort of material which seemed to have a small hole. A second one was later found which clearly had exploded. Subsequent research showed that these two artifacts were blasting caps for black powder dating to possibly 1872.




This find expanded the use of this section of Lassen Trail for almost another decade. Also found by Richard was a wire splice of what appeared to be a section from the 1858 telegraph line. This line is noted crossing this area on the 1858 Von Schmidt Rancho Bosquejo Survey.



The artifact field agreed to the LIDAR track of the road and this high density showed that crossing this corner of the Lassen Garden was quite detrimental to both wagons, tack, and animals.


We crossed the Stanford Canal to the east and found a marked drop off in artifact density similar to the west end. Richard wandered off to the north and discovered at the Masonic Branch of the Lassen Trail Route a very large collection of cut nail fragments. Richard enlisted Frank and me to canvas the area on both sides of the main trail, now about 1/4 mile from the Marysville to Shasti Road intersection. We expanded our search and found the site to be at least 30 by 40 feet in size and encompasses both sides of the trail. The day was getting late and there was talk of giving it up for the day as the sun was heading to the horizon. At this time Frank found, on a borrowed metal detector, a Chinese silver coin. The coin was given to Seth for cleaning and examination.



It was noted that this portion of the Lassen Trail was in use well past the emigrant phase. It clearly suggested that this section carried supplies to the Feather River mines. The singular wagon ruts, which were prominent when partially flooded, were not visible when the soil was dry.  It is recommended that travel in this section of flat ground be curtailed to protect these frail wagon features.



Dave Freeman