Chance to hike Fay-Luther Trail with Snowshoe John Thompson

Caryn HallerCaryn Haller

Caryn HallerCaryn Haller

The Carson Valley Trails Association invites the public to a free historical snowshoe (or hike if insufficient snow) 2-4 p.m. Feb. 22.

Meet at the Fay-Luther Trailhead on Foothill Road, 4.5 miles south of the intersection with Kingsbury Grade. Participants must provide their own snowshoes or hiking shoes for traveling on the trail over the snow and ground. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring water and snacks for the trail. Hot chocolate will be served for all participants at the end of the snowshoe.

“This is a special winter event for the entire family,” organizers said. “Participants will meet legendary John ‘Snowshoe’ Thompson while on the trail. You will travel over part of the actual historical route Snowshoe travelled.”

For nearly 20 years during the mid-1800s Snowshoe Thompson was the only winter link back and forth between Genoa (Mormon Station) and Placerville (Hangtown, Calif.). His two-to-three-day, 90-mile crossings over the Sierra on homemade nine foot Norwegian style wooden “snow skates” (skis) have never been duplicated.

“Snowshoe will amaze you with his stories and exploits while carrying the U.S. Mail twice a month all winter long,” organizers said.

Originally from the Tinn district of Norway, John Thompson immigrated to the United States when he was only 10 years old. When the California gold rush started in 1849, Thompson traveled across the country to seek his fortune from the farming communities in the mid-West where he grew up to California.

After stepping forward in Placerville in 1856 to deliver mail over the mountains to Genoa, his fame grew every time he survived the winter snows to arrive safely in the small isolated town “lost to the world.”

Snowshoe became known throughout the West for his dedication to his mail route and loyalty to family, neighbors and his fellow man.

The Friends of Snowshoe Thompson have erected a statue in Genoa commemorating his feats. The Genoa Historical Museum also contains a fine display dedicated to the famous “Mailman of the Sierra.”

A Historical Snowshoe Trek with Snowshoe Thompson Mailman of the Sierra is a special CVTA educational community outreach event. For more information contact

The Carson Valley Trails Association is a nonprofit, volunteer based organization working with partners to provide access to public lands through a recreational trail system for present and future generations to enjoy. More information about the organization is available online: and on the CVTA Facebook page.


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