The Mother Lode and the Sierra Nevada offer plenty of hiking, but some of it is only suitable to agile athletes. Tuolumne County is fortunate to have several trails, however, that are accessible to those with disabilities, young children, dogs, equestrians and mountain bikers.
And one of the best such family friendly trails is the one from Twain Harte to Lyons Dam.
Located just 2.5 miles off Highway 108 down a gravel road, this trail is accessible from a variety of locations that offer hikes of varying lengths.
Catching the Sugar Pine Trail in Twain Harte – at the east side of Confidence South Fork Road just north of the intersection with Middle Camp Sugar Pine Road – the trail is perfect for avid mountain bike enthusiasts as it is approximately a 10 mile route to the dam and back. Sierra Pacific Industries allows public access to this section of the trail. Please stay on the trail.
As I prefer the bipedal motion of my two feet and often have grandchildren in tow, I prefer the access road from Highway 108 in Sierra Village. If your children are older you can park in the lot on Highway 108 near the entrance to Lyon’s Dam and hike the 2-plus miles down the gravel road (keep in mind you will have to hike back up that same 2-plus miles). You can also drive down and simply enjoy the well maintained trails from there.
The paths along the edge of the water are wide and well groomed – easy for strollers and wheelchairs – the scenery is breathtaking and the air is crisp and clear.
Surrounded by redwoods, pines, firs and dogwoods, the trails offer large amounts of shade and are peaceful and smooth.
No swimming is allowed as the water source is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
If you are patient and luck is with you, you may be able to see an American bald eagle scoop a feast from the waters behind the dam.
The elevation offers a pleasant drop in temperature in the summer months and a brisk chill in the fall.
This hike will take a large portion of your day. Please be prepared and bring plenty of water to hydrate and food for nourishment. And as always, pack out what you pack in.
Public restrooms are available in the parking lot.
Are you in a hurry and only have limited time to explore the beauty of the timberline hiking trails?
Well, Westside Trail in Tuolumne will fit the bill perfectly. It is rarely touched by snow but high enough in elevation to be cool in summer.
Access is at the intersection of Buchanan and Mira Monte roads in Tuolumne.
It is a 1-mile easy, smooth hike, with interpretive panels placed along the trail telling of the history of the area as well as the wildlife and the flora and fauna.
The beginning is a bit bumpy and may be hard to navigate for strollers and wheelchairs, but after the first little stretch it’s a beautifully tended trail with stunning views and plenty of foliage for shade and for you aspiring botanists.
Though no signs designate what or whom may use the trails, it is clearly utilized by horses, mountain bicyclists and hikers with dogs.
Many hiking trails at higher elevations are restricted to spring through fall use. Always research before heading out for a day of hiking. Keep in mind, many of the trails lack cell service and are relatively far from services. Hiking with a buddy is always a good plan.