Spring is officially here.
While driving to Fresno one can witness the fields and foothills of the lower elevation change from brown to bright green. During the next few weeks from this green carpet, the brilliant colors of yellow, purple, white, red and orange wild flowers will emerge from their winter slumber.
One area that you must visit is the corridor along Highway 140. From Mariposa drive through Midpines and follow the highway down to Briceburg. As the highway follows the Merced River, look up at the western canyon walls and enjoy the floral display of the orange colored Poppies that cover the canyons and mountain sides.
Proceed past the two detour bridges that cross the river. After driving a short distance, on the right will be a sign which reads Savage Trading Post and the Hite's Cove Trailhead.This nine mile round trip hike will take you away from the highway and introduce you to a moderate trail with only 200 feet of elevation gain.
While following this scenic trail upstream along the Merced River, you will be rewarded with many species of native wildflowers. Dominating the landscaping are the Orange California Poppies. Followed by the White Popcorn flower, Yellow Goldfields, Red Indian Paintbrush, Golden Brodieia (Pretty Face) and Purple Bush Lupine just to mention a few of almost 20 different species of wildflowers. During the spring the depth of the Merced River changes with the snow melt and landscaping photos will be a plus to your portfolio.
Before reaching Hite's Cove, along this historic trail is discarded mining machinery displaying the erosion of time and weather. Next hike past the area of mining tailings, within a few hundred yards left of the trail are foundations from previous dwellings that were destroyed during the forest fire of 1924. On the opposite side of the river, look closely because there are cables which are all that remain from the old suspension bridge.
Continue on another few minutes and you will arrive at the main area of Hite's Cove. Again you will see foundations, old mining machinery and the rocky remains of their mining roads. Hike up river a short distance and you will be surprised by an old abandon hard rock gold mine from the gold mining era more than 140 years ago.
During the spring this trail will offer you a verity of choices from colorful wildflowers, early mining history, small waterfalls and views of our Sierra Nevada Mountains. This spring wild flower experience only lasts a few weeks. Check with the National Forest Service for an update on this event. Don't hesitate ... adjust your busy schedule to enjoy this spring event ... you won't be disappointed. See you on the trail.