Take a walk to 6,200 foot Arch Rock

Nuggets from the Past

August 12, 2010 

Now is the time to consider cooling off in the upper regions of our wonderful Sierra Nevada mountains. You are most fortunate in that the scenic byway is right here.

Available to you is the perfect guide, Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway. Do take advantage of the opportunity to purchase this detailed guide and enjoy everything that is up there where the cool mountain breezes will be most welcome! The book leads you in partial mile segments to make sure you won't miss anything on your journey of discovery.

Part 3: deals with Grizzly Meadow Road to Cold Springs Summit. The area includes 15 miles of high standard highway, 10 miles of graded dirt roadway, then another 8 miles of good highway.

"In this segment of the Byway we will have the opportunity to visit Mammoth Pool Reservoir and get a close-up view of its impressive earth-filled dam.

We will see such geologic oddities as Arch Rock, columnar basalt, and Globe Rock. We will pass through areas of old Indian summer camps and places where Native Americans from the east and west came to meet and trade various goods. And we will hear tales of the old time packers and cattlemen who came to the high pastures each summer.

Finally, off this portion of the byway are opportunities to get out of the car, stretch your legs, and hike to some beautiful high country studded with lakes and watched over by the high Sierra peaks....

Stop No. 4: Arch Rock, Elevation 6,200 feet: "...an easy 400-foot long footpath goes down to a viewing platform from which Arch Rock can be seen. Much of the work on this interpretive site was undertaken in 2002 as an Eagle Scout project....

"As you walk down the path to the viewing platform, look for the purple flowers of the Mountain Pride Penstemon newberryi, which bloom every summer here on the granitic gravelly slope. The genus Penstemon is quite common in California, having 24 different species in just the Sierra Nevada.

"The natural arch is a geologic oddity produced by the differential erosion of the granodiorite bedrock. Such features are not commonly found in crystalline igneous rocks. Here, weathering and erosion took place along vertical joints and more horizontal semi-curved exfoliation cracks in the granodiorite.

Slight differences in the minerals within the granite-like rock made the upper portion harder than the material a few feet farther down. The forces of moisture, alternately freezing and expanding followed by melting and contracting, gradually broke down the softer minerals.

Eventually the harder, more resistant material survived, while the softer underlying material was worn away. The result is Arch Rock." Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway may be purchased at the Coarsegold Historic Museum and at Fresno Flats Museum.

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