Heidelmann Lodge is a beautiful private lodge at the top of Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada. The lodge is owned by the Nature Friends, Inc. and operated by the Heidelmann Committee. It is open year round for the exclusive use of Nature Friends members and their guests.
Old Highway 40
P.O. Box 67
Norden, CA 95724
Tel: (530) 426-9947
Website: Heidelmann Lodge
The mountain lodge was built in 1947 by volunteer members from the San Francisco and Oakland branches. The lodge is named after the founder of the San Francisco Nature Friends, W. Heidelmann, who was the inspiration behind the new lodge after the club’s previous lodge that was built in 1931 on the same location, Sierra Haus, burned down in 1943.
The lodge is located at 7,000 feet, near Donner Summit, on the Old Highway 40, in Norden, off I-80. It is 45 minutes from Reno, an hour and half from Sacramento and 3 hours from San Francisco.
Parking is shared with the other lodges: Sierra Club’s Clair Tappaan Lodge and U.C. Berkeley’s Cal Lodge.
In summer, there is easy access to Donner Lake, Donner Summit, Lake Tahoe, Truckee and Reno where you can hike, swim, rock climb, raft, boat, volley ball, etc. A Button Box music camp is hosted at the lodge every year.
In winter, you can enjoy downhill and cross-country skiing, tubing, sledding at Donner Ski Ranch, Royal Gorge, Soda Springs, and Sugar Bowl, using a free shuttle that runs every hour during weekends and holidays. Driving will give you access to Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Northstar, and Squaw Valley.
Members organize activities through the year, published in the Nature Friends’ Bulletin: New Year’s Eve, Presidents’ Weekend, Ski Races, and a SummitFest.
According to the Donner Summit Historical Society, early Nature Friends were eager to ski at the lodge:
For years [after the first lodge was built in 1931] the Nature Friends who wanted to go downhill skiing had to climb up to the peak behind the lodge in order to ski down. Ski lifts were coming into being however…and the Nature Friends and the Sierra Club wanted to join in. They ordered a modern rope tow from San Francisco and had it shipped up to the summit on the Lincoln Highway. There it was unloaded and hauled up the hill over the tracks, past the lodges to the the ski hill about a quarter mile farther on. (Donner Summit Historical Society Newsletter, September, 2011 #37)
The lodge has sleeping accommodations for 100 persons in two large single gender dorms, with showers and restrooms on the second floor. The first floor offers a large living room with a piano and a wood burning stove, a large dining room-kitchen, a small library-video room and a warming room. The large basement has a cold storage room, a tool room, many lockers, table tennis, and a members’ room with a fireplace. No reservations are needed. Accommodations are on a first-come, first-served basis. Some weekends are members only. You must bring your own sleeping bag, pillow cases, and toiletry. Indoor activities: games, table tennis, video, dances, music, reading, cooking, etc.
You are on your own. You have to bring your food and drinks, and cook for yourself. Food lockers are available for rent by members to store food over the winter. There are fridges, a freezer and storage available. Everyone has to share the kitchen and dining room space. A gigantic stove is on from 7 am to 9 pm.
During your stay, there are no house chores, but you are expected to clean up behind you and help the caretaker, if help is needed. This is your lodge, please leave it as you would wish others to leave it for you.
Although special work days may be called, our annual scheduled workfests are: Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day weekends. One of those workdays can count to become a member of the San Francisco Branch.
Each member can sponsor 7 guests if they stay with them, or 3 if they sign guest passes. The sponsor must accompany a guest the first time.
During summer, members’ dogs only are allowed outside the building and on leash.
In winter, try to travel during daytime to avoid the snowy busy parking lot at night. Test your chains before your trip. Pack light. Bring flash lights. Learn tricks from the Old Timers. Bring as much food as you can upon your arrival. Ski and food lockers are for rent yearly.
In den Bergen wohnt die Freiheit