Back to the Stanislaus

posted Dec 5, 2013, 8:21 AM by Paul Wagner
We took another trip to our cabin above Sonora last weekend, and this time we decided to check out the trail to an old mine in the area. 
sunlight through the trees
 
It was another great day in the foothills, with sunny weather and cool temperatures--perfect for hiking.  The trail starts as a nice old logging (and mining?) road that wanders down towards the South Fork of the Stanislaus  for about a mile and half. 
 
Then it gets very steep for a half a mile.  Still  a "road" mind you, but so steep that I wouldn't want to drive anything with four wheels on it.  And so deeply rutted that we had to carefully chart our route.  Amazingly, we did hear a car further below us---but from the noises it was making, it might still be down there...
 
 
Once at the junction, we turned right and left the insanely steep section to follow a smaller road that contoured along the canyon upstream.   This was a beautiful route, easy walking, and despite the fact that it obviously gets very little traffic, it was maintained.  We hiked through numerous fallen trees that had been cleared for the trail. 
A couple of weeks later we hiked back down into the canyon in search of an old mine. This trail was actually maintained...many logs had been cur through to clear the trail
 
But the best part of the hike was yet to come.
 
After about a mile on this secondary road, we came to the mine, and spent about an hour exploring the area.  The trail ends at the main mine, but on our way back we noticed two other areas that included a secondary mine entrance and another area that was clearly terraced at the same time--although we're not sure why.
 
It made for some fun exploring.
 
Three miles in, we came to the mine--and its massive machinery
 
It's hard to imagine how they dragged these enormous iron wheels down here.  Lots of mules, and a pretty darn sturdy wagon.
 
There is supposed to be a trail that leads down to the river from the mine itself, but we did not see an obvious route.  And the one trail we did consider was covered with bare branches of what might be poison oak.  We'll come back in the spring, once the poison oak has budded out, and see if we can  work our way down there without getting covered in the stuff.
 
Meanwhile, we had a grand adventure in the foothills---and inspiration to explore more of this area. 
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