Is it necessary for us to enjoy our mountains by traveling two hours just to hike for 20 minutes? Many great hiking trails surrounding Oakhurst are less than a 30-minute drive, where families can spend hours enjoying the wilderness. Today I’m going to introduce you to one of many seasoned trails in our area.
Thornberry Mountain located east of Oakhurst will give you distant views of Ahwahnee, Oakhurst, North Fork and Coarsegold, through a simple drive up Road 426 from Oakhurst. Where it turns into Road 273 (426 continues down the hill to Bass Lake), continue on Road 273 towards the Teafod Meadows subdivision about a quarter mile and watch for Thornberry Road (dirt road) on the right.
At this junction, a green forest gate will be the trailhead. Follow this old forest road as it increases in elevation and opens the eastern views of Teaford Meadows and North Fork. Roughly 20 minutes into the hike, an alternate logging road on the left will lead to a forgotten mine located on the high ridge.
Continuing on the forest road while increasing in elevation, you will arrive at a natural saddle. Looking west, Oakhurst comes into view, with Deadwood Mountain and Ahwahnee in the distance. Keep following this road as it increases in elevation to almost 4,800 feet before it starts descending and opens up to views toward Coarsegold.
Continue following this old forest road as it drops in elevation for another 15 minutes. Just off the road, on the right, is another abandoned mine. Be careful, this is an open pit like the first mine but much larger. Walk around the pit to its lower elevation for a closer view.
If you decide to continue following this road as it drops in elevation, soon it will introduce another junction. To the right will be another green forest gate which will lead to the Oakhurst Church Camp above Mudge Ranch subdivision. This makes an ideal point to park your second car for your return.
For those of you who want to spend extra time hiking, continue following the forest road as it increases in elevation. Eventually, after passing a few abandoned gates and hiking another two-plus hours, Highway 41 comes into view.
Transportation to and from must be solved before starting these hikes, and no water is available along this historic route.
My personal opinion is that this hike should be broken down in segments. Points of interest can be overlooked by aggressive hiking and you will miss the hidden beauty of this pristine area if your rush your hike.
There are a few abandoned logging roads which are connected by game trails and will test your mountain skills. For those of you who enjoy our past history, some of these trails were originated by our Native Americans.
Pick up a forest map and plot your adventure and experience these hidden areas surrounding Oakhurst.
Krizan photo presentation
Tony Krizan will present a slide show on the “Sierra High Route,” from South Lake outside of Bishop to Roads End in Kings Canyon, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Saturday, May 14, at the Oakhurst Library.
“This wilderness adventure will dazzle you with 10 days of remote high elevation mountain scrambling,” said the explorer who has accumulated more than 30 years of hiking experience he captured in photos.
“We hope Tony’s adventures will encourage people to explore the boundaries of our wilderness and ignite a curiosity of the outdoors that will last a lifetime,” said Dale Rushing, Oakhurst Library Branch Manager.
The free event is sponsored by the Friends of the Oakhurst Branch Library, and will be held in the library’s community room.