Beckwourth Trail

Truckee River Trail Route

Beckwourth Trail

While William Nobles was surveying his new route in 1851, colorful frontiersman Jim Beckwourth, using his own funds, had found and developed a new wagon route that brought gold seekers to the diggings at Bidwell’s Bar, north of Marysville.

Beckwourth’s route branched off the Truckee Trail at Truckee Meadows (present Reno-Sparks) in an arching northwest direction, along the corridor of present U.S. 395, to Beckwourth Pass. Here it turned west, and northwest, generally along the corridor of present CA 70 to American Valley (present Quincy). From there, the Beckwourth Trail turned generally southwest by the southern end of Bucks Lake and then onto Bidwell’s Bar on the South Fork of the American River, now under Lake Oroville.

In early August of 1851 Jim Beckwourth led the first wagons over his new trail to Marysville. Unlike William Nobles, Jim Beckwourth was never compensated for his investment in developing this new trail. However, he built a ranch-trading post, called “War Horse Ranch,” just west of modern Beckwourth on CA 70 where he regaled emigrants passing by.

Leaving American Valley (Quincy) in 1850 on a prospecting trip Beckwourth discovered the low pass (5,212 feet) that was named for him. During 1851 he began to construct a new wagon road from Sparks, Nevada to Bidwell Bar, California. He led the first wagons over his new road in August of 1851.

Beckwourth established “War Horse Ranch” in Sierra Valley, near the present town of Beckwourth, where he operated a trading post for emigrants entering California.

Jim Beckwourth Museum
The Beckwourth Trail is under Lake Davis
Grizzly Valley
Grizzly Ridge

Beckwourth Pass is 5,216 feet. Travel was fairly easy until they reached the 1,500 ft. ascent to 7,000 ft. plus Grizzly Ridge.

“The … road was very steep … Mrs. Corbin, my two children and I went on ahead. It was too hard work to carry both children at the same time, and so I carried my baby ahead about a hundred yards and made a sort of cache for her, and placed her in it, then I returned and carried my little boy on up the hill a hundred yards beyond the other child and cached him the same way, and so on up the long, weary mountain.”

Mary Variel, Grizzly Ridge, September 14th, 1852

Soapstone Ruts on the Beckwourth Trail