Tony Krizan

Millerton Lake area provides fantastic views

A hiking trail leading to Big Table Mountain.
A hiking trail leading to Big Table Mountain. Special to Sierra Star

The Millerton Lake area has a few surprises with hikes that present you fantastic views with a heart pounding elevation gain. A big plus in spring is these hikes at lower elevations will offer a beautiful display of native wildflowers.

This will be a strenuous hike with an 1,800 foot elevation gain. You’ll have miles of distant views to occupy your time before reaching your destination. So take lots of water and a large brim hat to shield you from the sun.

Depart Oakhurst on Highway 41, drive through Coarsegold, and then turn left on Highway 145, right on Road 206, then left on Millerton Road. Now turn left on Auberry Road to the final left turn on Wellbarn Road. Follow this road to the locked gate which is the trailhead and parking area.

We’ll start by following the winding dirt road that drops gradually 500 feet. Almost three miles away in the distance is our destination, the large flat Table Top Mountain.

As this trail skirts around the foothills the elevation starts to increase. The surrounding canyons this time of year will be graced with fresh valley grass. This area is highlighted by the brilliant colors of the native wildflowers of Purple Lupines, Purple Farwell to Spring, Yellow Media and Yellow Golden Fields.

Once reaching the tabletop it seems endless when looking at this large flat area extending over a half mile in all directions.

We hiked due north maneuvering around and over lava rock, cooled millions of years earlier which is the results of volcanic disturbances and continental plate movements.

Within 15 minutes we are looking at the canyon cradling the view of Millerton Lake. The lake’s enormous size was parochially blocked by the distant canyons. Also at this location overlooking the lake was a 20-foot wooden cross erected years ago, probably by a religious group. Could this wooden cross be another mountain secret?

We are now at our halfway point, and time to relax and enjoy the scenery before our return back to the trailhead.

In the distance, more than over 50 miles away, the snow caps are visible against the blue sky overlooking the local Sierra Nevada Mountains. This view helped soften the elevation gain we experienced this morning.

An alternate destination on this same road will be to Temperance Flat. At the first major fork, hike to the right and follow the road down toward Millerton Lake. This hike is a mile shorter and not as strenuous. But you will sacrifice the distant views of the snow cap mountains. Estimate between four to five hours to complete this trek.

If you are new to the sport of hiking, check with the Oakhurst Senior Hiking Group. Contact Fran Betancourt at (hikingsierraseniors.com@gmail.com). They accept all age groups and hike twice a week all year.

Why sit at home this spring? Put a little adventure in your life by hiking some of our beautiful locations close to home. See you on the trail.

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