Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gregory Creek Overlook Trail

Gregory Creek Overlook Trail is a short trail connecting the Glacier Way Trailhead with the Donner Lake Rim Trail (DLRT). The signpost at the end of the overlook trail, where the DLRT starts, still uses the designation Negro Canyon Overlook Trail. This seems to be politically incorrect, since the word Negro here does not present the Spanish adjective for black; but, instead, refers to a person of black ancestry or appearance. There is the possibility that the name refers to Albert Johnson, an African American and resident of Donner Lake around 1878 [1]:
Johnson was well known and respected, and was a cook at the Truckee Hotel and later worked as a cook on a Lake Tahoe steamer. [...]. Eventually, he began renting cabins at Donner Lake near the output of Gregory Creek, which flows from Negro Canyon [sic!]. Unfortunately, his name does not appear on land or property records, making it difficult to establish if he has any official connection to the Negro Canyon name.

Let's stay with the name Gregory Creek for the canyon and, as done above, with the name Gregory Creek Overlook Trail for the Tahoe-Donner fire road trail, which ends at the marker with number 22 (see map). This scenic spot offers views of the western tip of  Donner Lake, Donner Pass Road with Rainbow Bridge, Mt. Judah, Roller.Pass and other features of the Pacific Crest. From this point and during a hike along the adjacent northbound section of the DLRT one gets various views of Gregory Creek. The picture below shows the DLRT section west of the junction, at which the Wendin Way Access Trail (not seen, since at the canyon bottom), also named Gregory Creek Trail (but not Negro Canyon Trail), meets the DLRT. Obviously, the mapping of this area has experienced a history of naming confusion. Fortunately, all its trails are easy to find and also well marked, when it comes to giving directions to destinations such as Summit Lake, Drifter Hut and Glacier Way.

Keywords: (in)correct naming, toponyms, hiking, mountain biking, vista points, Donner Lake, Sierra Nevada.

[1] Truckee Open Space > Negro Canyon (Upper Gregory Creek) [].

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