Stanislaus National Forest Hiking: Groveland Dog Walking Along the Tuolumne
Note that areas located within the 2013 Rim fire, including this location, are not accessible for safety reasons until Forest Service employees note otherwise. There is obvious signage in this area to indicate closures. Please follow all rules and use your common sense as always when entering into public lands.
Hiking in the Groveland Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest is not really a thing. Nobody around here does it that much when Yosemite is so close. Plus, those darn low elevation national forests are just filled with poison oak and ticks (be careful!). The locals do love the forest for a good swimming hole, mountain bike or ORV trail, or fishing spot – but, if you want to go for a walk the general consensus is: keep driving.
Which is a shame!
Let me list the reasons why you might want to reconsider hiking Groveland, CA: Less people, less driving, less chain restrictions in the winter (Does anyone else feel Yosemite sometimes goes a little overboard with the chain restrictions at the slightest bit of snow?), Groveland has a a pretty decent stretch of the Tuolumne River running though it, abundant camping, and most important for this blog post… it is dog friendly!
Dog Walking on the Tuolumne Rim loop
Trailhead: from Highway 120 just before the Groveland National Forest office turn left onto Ferretti Rd. From there follow the road about a mile down to Lumsden Road, identified by a cattle guard and some signage telling you about getting down to the Tuolumne river (this is a road often traveled by rafters). Park in the pull out by cattle guard, and start down the dirt road you passed parking (not the gravel Lumsden Rd).
Distance: 3 miles
A few weeks back I got a local Sierra Club guide book from weekly library book sale which lists this trail and names it the “Tuolumne Rim Loop.” I have named it the same above, but if it was not listed in this newly found book I am sure I would have named it something more along the lines of “A hike up the Forest Service road next to Lumsden, looping through a tree plantation, and then returning along the scenic Ferretti Rd. PS: Watch out for ORVs and lifted trucks.” Obviously the Tuolumne Rim Trail is a much catchier naming choice though, as it is both more concise and tells you what the best part of this short hike – the view you get from the top of the first hill as you look down into the Tuolumne River Canyon and out at the snow capped Sierra.
Curtis and I decided to hike the trail because we were helping to dog-sit our friend Elizabeth’s awesome German Shepard, Odie. It is pretty much a perfect dog walking trail because it is so close to town and not too long. The hike itself if fairly simple, starting with an uphill climb up the dirt road, forking to the right about in mile onto a path that takes you into a tree plantation, then following the path downhill to where it meets up with Ferretti Road, and this is where you will probably need to wrangle in your dog to continue back (northward) down Ferretti Road to complete the loop to your parking spot.
We finished off the hike by exploring a bit down Lumsden road, there is quite the collection of old mining debris not too far down the road: tailings, a retention pond, and new bat friendly cap on the old mining cave. Tread carefully back here, and try to avoid having the dog your dog-sitting launch himself in the not so clean retention puddle. Oops.
I hope with our new book, and some more good weather Curtis and I will continue to explore the Stanislaus National Forest Hiking trails. And, if anyone in Groveland needs a couple dog-sitters we have one happy dog reference! Below are a few more pictures from the hike – I love the one of the black oak and could not help but pair it up with that excellent Neil Gaiman quote in which totally name drops oaks.