SUV drivers to follow pioneer trail

Lassen-Applegate Emigrant Trail Ride participants snake through a narrow passage in the High Rock Canyon. Participants in the Lassen-Applegate trip will follow the original wagon trail used by pioneer Peter Lassen in 1849. Photo submitted
Feather Publishing

  Wagons ho! Just imagine a sport-utility vehicle trek for the entire family that traces the same route used by 8,000 early pioneers in more than 1,500 covered wagons from 1849 to 1852 that brought a flood of immigrants to California, most of whom had the Gold Rush fever. The overland emigrant trip would take five to six months, crossing mountains, deserts, rivers and some of the most hostile country in the world.

  Owners of SUVs and other four-wheel-drive vehicles can now relive the Gold Rush era as they travel the famous Lassen-Applegate Emigrant Trail, marveling at such sights as the beautiful Black Rock Desert, the majestic High Rock Canyon, Double Hot Springs, Soldier Meadows and so much more.

  This exciting 200-mile journey begins Friday, July 19, lasts through Monday, July 22, and is hosted by the High Rock Trekkers Four-Wheel Drive Club. The trip begins near Imlay, Nev., and follows the same wagon train route used by Peter Lassen in 1849. The trip concludes in Surprise Valley near Cedarville in Modoc County. This was also an alternate route used by early pioneers to reach central Oregon.

  “For me, this trail is special and as a historian, I get to relive the past by thinking of John C. Fremont, Kit Carson, and Thomas ‘Brokenhand’ Fitzpatrick and many other brave men and women as they made this arduous journey from small towns throughout the Midwest,” said Warner Anderson, trail boss from the High Rock Trekkers.

  Anderson said the trip is open to all four-wheel-drive enthusiasts and their families. It is not a difficult route, though there are a few places where four-wheel drive will be required or where trail committee instructions must be followed.

  “The emigrants wrote in their diaries such good descriptions of their trip that we can identify the majority of key points of interest in the history of this route,” Anderson said.

  Participants will camp the first night at Double Hot Springs, former camping area for all of the pioneer wagon trains. The second night participants will spend the evening at Stevens Camp, which provides toilets, spring water and possibly hot showers. Participants will need to bring their own tents and sleeping bags.

  Cost for the trip is $275 per adult and $150 for children ages 7 through 14; children under 7 are welcome free of charge. The cost includes all meals from breakfast on Saturday through breakfast on Monday. In addition to tents and sleeping bags, participants are encouraged to bring a CB radio, camera, folding chairs, snacks, refreshments and drinking water.

  The trip is fully insured and operates under a permit from the Bureau of Land Management. Proceeds from the event help support the California Association of Four-Wheel Drive Clubs’ Conservation and Education Foundation.

  The trip is limited to the first 25 vehicles on a first-registered, first-served basis. To register for this exciting trail ride, contact Warner Anderson at 775-629-9232 or or Ron Vance at 775-246-4099 or Registration is also available online at

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