Walker River-Sonora Route

Carson River Route

Walker River-Sonora Route - 1852

The Walker River Trail opened in 1852 when emissaries from the Gold Rush town of Columbia were sent to find a new crossing of the Sierra Nevada and divert emigrants to the Southern Mines.

The route turned south from the Carson River Route along the Carson River to the Walker River and then west into the mountains. Columbia’s scouting party advertised the new route as the shortest and fastest way into the mines, but in reality it turned out to be longer and more difficult than established trails.

The first emigrants to attempt the new route–the Clark-Skidmore Party-toiled for weeks to reach the Sierra crest at what would soon be called Sonora Pass. A rescue party from Sonora met the bedraggled emigrants at Relief Valley and guided them safely to Columbia.

The next year thousands of emigrants struggled to haul their wagons over the pass. Few had anything good to say about the route. Soon after an article by a railroad survey team appeared in a San Francisco newspaper in 1854 declaring the Walker River Trail the worst route imaginable; the trail was abandoned.