What’s one to do when winter arrives, but the sports of skiing and snow showing is not the choice of recreation? Do we wait until spring to enjoy the outdoors? Here is one close adventure that may not be on those narrow mountain trails but is still exciting revealing land marks of our local history. I’m talking about Stevenson Falls located outside North Fork.
I departed Oakhurst on Highway 41 North to Road 222 and continue on Road 274 past Bass Lake. Turn left on Italian Bar Road in North Fork as it follows above the deep canyon above Redinger Lake. First you must stop along the roadway on the left and preview the monument that marks the center of California, which is identified by a stairway that leads to its location. Continue following this paved narrow one lane road down past the old Chawanakee School to a locked gate - this is the trailhead. Only seven miles round trip with an elevation gain of 400 feet which classifies this hike as ‘easy.’
This hike will be on a paved narrow winding road that was blasted out of solid granite by the Edison Company almost a century ago. Their objective was to continue construction of the power plants and dams along the San Joaquin River.
This almost impossible achievement of road construction during the early years of the 20th century was nicknamed the Million Dollar Road. Our destination is Stevenson Falls. During the spring season the native wild flowers will offer brilliant colors lining this roadway. If spring arrives early this year because of our unseasonable warm temperatures, we are in for a colorful hike.
Look closely at the canyon walls for they are hiding a few huge tunnels called Adit’s. They were designed to save time in construction of the major pipe line. Approaching the falls was somewhat of a disappointment from my last visit.
In 2009 the massive wall of water falling 300 feet kicked up a spray that covered the bridge. Another 200 feet of drop followed under the bridge to the San Joaquin River below. Defiantly a spectacle to witness, so don’t forget your camera. Today only a small stream was trickling down these 300 feet of smooth rocks. Now later this spring, if we are reward with a late wet season, the view of these falls are the highlight of this adventure.
If you enjoy the sport of bicycle riding on mountain roads, this route will extend to a total round trip of 17 miles following the San Joaquin River through this deep canyon to the Mammoth Pool Powerhouse. Winter in our area mountains has the advantage of experiencing a multitude of sports. So pick up your map, do a little research and enjoy a new mountain adventure.
Tony Krizan’s Sierra Nevada mountains series
Sierra Star columnist (Mountain Secrets), author and avid hiker, Tony Krizan, has scheduled a series of public speaking dates for presentations on hiking nearby trails.
The eight-event series featuring wilderness hiking trails within the mountains surrounding Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Park. The slide show presentations will allow attendees to experience the trails and endless views from various mountains in the region, and lean some history of the areas.
The one-hour presentations will be at 7:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Yosemite Southgate Hotel & Suites, 40644 Highway 41 (behind Denny’s Restaurant).
The presentations are open to the public and are free of charge. Guests can enjoy complimentary gourmet cookies and finger pastries provided by Crab Cakes Restaurant. In conjunction with the presentations, REI of Fresno will display various kinds of extreme hiking equipment in the Southgate Hotel lobby - the same type of equipment Krizan uses on his hiking adventures.
After the presentation, autographed copies of Tony’s two books on hiking the historic Yosemite Trails will be available.
Schedule of presentations:
• April 18 - Minaret Mountains
• May 9 - Wawona Stagecoach Road
• June 13 - Great Sierra Mines
• July 1 - High Sierra Passes
• Aug. 8 - Lake Italy Loop
• Sept. 19 - Lost in Kings Canyon