Winter has once again arrived in our local mountains above Oakhurst. We have been patiently waiting for our drought to end and with the arrival of rain and snow - maybe now we can focus our winter activities on skiing and snowshoeing. For us die hard backpackers there is still a chance to hike within the local mountains if you stay below 4,500 feet and the south side of the mountain ranges.
Here are a few suggestions for an afternoon of hiking below the snow level:
• Outside of Mariposa is Burma Grade at an elevation of 2,760 feet. The trail-head is located off of Highway 140 at Briceburg next to the Merced River. This is a moderate to strenuous hike with 1,700 feet of elevation gain on eight miles (round trip) of an old bladed switch back road. Park below the stone building before crossing the suspension bridge and the trail-head is on the right.
• At the east end of Bass Lake is Browns Ditch at an elevation of 3,700 feet. The trail-head is located off Malum Ridge Road (274). Park your vehicle on the right of Road 274 across from Central Camp Road. This is an easy five mile loop with only 400 feet of elevation gain following the road. Return by following the Browns Ditch Flume. This hike is rated, easy.
• North of Oakhurst on Highway 41 is Lewis Creek and Corlieu Falls at an elevation of 3,900 feet. One can hike the full length of this 3.5 mile trail or make this a three part adventure. 1) From Highway 41 turn right on Cedar Valley Road, and look for the sign on the left just before Lewis Creek. This is the trail-head at 3,370 feet and 1.1 miles to below Corlieu Falls. 2) At the turnout on Highway 41 hike down and turn left at the sign to the log bridge to continue 1.4 miles upstream past an old cabin foundation to Red Rock Falls. If you hike to the right of the sign, follow the trail down .05 mile to Corlieu Falls. 3) On Sugar Pine Drive only .06 miles from Highway 41 is the trail-head at 4,200 feet. Now follow Lewis Creek .04 mile downstream to Red Rock Falls. These hikes are rated, moderate to strenuous.
• North of Bass Lake is Willow Creek at an elevation of 3,540 feet. Park off Road 274 west of the bridge and look for the lower parking area below the road. The easiest direction to the trail-head is by walking back to the road to the east side of the bridge and follows the dirt road to the trail-head. Along this trail are high points of Angel Falls, Devils Slide and if there is no snow, hike all the way to McLeid Flat at 4,130 feet. This is a six mile hike retracing your steps back to the trail-head. This is a moderate hike and estimated time of four to six hours.
If our snow level stays at a higher elevation this season these hikes are possible throughout the year. You will not be disappointed hiking these trails during the winter months. The foliage has thinned out and you can now see those points of interest normally concealed by the spring and summer growth. For safety reasons, contact the forest service for weather reports and trail conditions during the winter months.
See you on the trail?