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Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails

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Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 21, 2017 09:39PM
A few weekends ago, the still-recovering JKW offered to help with some car shuttles so I could complete some western Yosemite TrailQuest bits. The forecast was for cool weather--perfect to check off some mid-elevation sections of trail.

My first section was the old Big Oak Flat road from Tuolumne Grove to Hodgdon Meadow. The dogwoods were unfortunately a bit past their prime.



I had to stop to photograph--and boop--a few of the sequoias in the grove.



Past the grove, I didn't see anyone until near the campground... I guess few people want to hike a 4 mile non-loop trail.


Note: Not a Loop

The former-road-now-trail was mostly easy to follow, but the shrubbery that was taking advantage of the recent Rim Fire was threatening to take over the old road.



The wet winter had also left its mark on this old route.



The two creek crossings were uneventful, but some of the recently-fallen trees were minor obstacles.



I didn't have my copy of the Auto Guide, and I also don't think that stop #5 in it is near Hodgdon Meadow.



The meadow itself was quite nice.



Since JKW was waiting for me at the Carlon trailhead, I hung a right at the corner of Tuolumne Grove and Aspen Way: the original "Tioga Road/Big Oak Flat Road" intersection.



Aspen Way seemed to be a bit of a storage area for the park service, but it seemed to have been driven recently. I was also surprised to pass a few other hikers on this trail. (I later learned they had wanted to avoid the backup getting into the park, and JKW had recommended the hike they were on...)



The road eventually reached the swollen South Fork Tuolume River and a small meadow that was the former site of Carl Inn. Instead of heading to the Carlon trailhead directly, I first checked out a short TQX segment.



JKW and I had lunch at the trailhead near the creek. During lunch we observed that official vehicles were using the gated old road as a "back door" into Yosemite to avoid the long line at the entrance station. Apparently, a few GPS mapping programs believe that the road is open to all traffic: more than a few people headed down the road, only to be thwarted by the gate.

After refueling, I headed off towards Carlon Falls. We would later learn that the cement structure across from Carl Inn on the Carlon Falls trail had been a swimming pool.



Wildflowers were taking full advantage of the recent fire.



There were a few dozen people at the falls, which were quite nice.



There were even hints of some nice granite farther upstream: an adventure for another day.



The South Fork itself was quite placid below the falls; if not for the deadfall and snags in the water it might make a nice non-technical packraft float.



After returning to Carlon trailhead yet again, we headed to our campsite. I also had the opportunity to "find" a boundary marker and locate some older cultural features.



There were pretty flowers everywhere.



We enjoyed a nice sunset before retiring for the night.





The next day, we returned to the park for a few more seldom-traveled TQ sections. First up: the old Crane Flat area logging roads to Clark View.

Crane Flat campground was still closed due to hazard tree removal.


Pro tip: If camping at Crane Flat this year, you probably don't need firewood

Unlike the previous day, which had been mostly sunny, clouds were threatening rain, and in fact a few cold sprinkles did warrant umbrella deployment.



The fog created a nice atmosphere for what was otherwise a road walk in a burnt-out forest.



At the end of the road were a few cables remaining from the logging operations.



The promised Clark View never materialized.



The return trip to Crane Flat required a bit of cross-country shrub thrashing to an even less-maintained road.



In fact, near the campground the park service was filling in a road cut with excess logs.



After finishing the Crane Flat "trails", JKW picked me up and we relocated back to the Hodgdon area for yet another old logging road, this one up Hazel Green Creek.

The first bit was well-maintained, as it provided access to a water tower and old filter facility.



Past this, post-fire bushes and shrubs had all but taken over the former road.



While many plants were thriving in these new conditions, most of the old, large pine trees had not survived the fire.



I eventually reached the end of the thrash, near Hazel Green Creek.



Despite being almost all downhill, the return trip took awhile due to the weeds. They weren't hard to push through, but they obscured all the deadfall underfoot.



After returning to the car, we drove out to a surprisingly crowded Hetch Hetchy.



Both of the large Falls Creek falls were impressive.



The place we had camped in Poopenaut Valley a year or so ago was completely under water.



Before heading home, we did one last short water-and-wildflower hike.



The numerous flowers made for a slow hike.



Eventually the trail provided good views of the raging river below.



We had to stop along the road a few times for a few last flower pictures.



Even the "lesser" "trails" of Yosemite can be a treat--and a great way to avoid the crowds.

P.S. Thanks for the shuttle service, JKW!
Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 21, 2017 10:40PM
You are most welcome!

I adore helping you and Chick-on out with shuttles while I'm recovering! You two have done so much to enable me to see and enjoy the Sierra!
Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 22, 2017 06:04PM
I've done the stretch from Tuolumne Grove parking area to about a mile beyond the lower end of the Grove. I'd planned to go out to Carlon Day Use but there was a last-minute issue with the pickup I'd arranged there and I realized I was going to have to turn around and climb back up the 3000 feet of elevation I'd just given up! I did go down to the road into Hodgdon CG later to see where I would have come out but I couldn't find anything that looked like the continuation of the OBOFR. It looks from your pictures that the old road goes to the meadow but not to the CG...is that right? (I did once go a short ways up the stretch of the old road starting near the Day Use area (was looking for the Carlon Falls trail but misread the TH directions and started on the wrong side of the river) but didn't take it as far as the intersection with the OTR (although I knew that they did intersect somewhere near there). Can you post a GPS track showing what happens near the Meadow and where the road intersection is? I expect it's easy enough to follow if I start at the Grove again but having done that stretch before (and, since that part of the road was maintained until fairly recently, I found that it wasn't the best "old road time machine" experience), I'm more likely to start at Carlon and go up so I'd like to have a sense of whether or not I need to allow extra time for figuring out where I'm going!

I'd definitely like to finish this stretch some time soon (while the road's still there to follow...although I've done several stretches of the OWR and the bottom part of the OCR (between the rockfall and the dumpsters) where it's questionable if the road's still there!). That's the only stretch of the OBOFR (at least within the Park) that I have left to complete.

Thanks for the report. You probably know (I know chick-on does) that the old roads are a particular fascination of mine.
Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 26, 2017 08:38PM
Quote
DavidK42
I did go down to the road into Hodgdon CG later to see where I would have come out but I couldn't find anything that looked like the continuation of the OBOFR. It looks from your pictures that the old road goes to the meadow but not to the CG...is that right? (I did once go a short ways up the stretch of the old road starting near the Day Use area (was looking for the Carlon Falls trail but misread the TH directions and started on the wrong side of the river) but didn't take it as far as the intersection with the OTR (although I knew that they did intersect somewhere near there). Can you post a GPS track showing what happens near the Meadow and where the road intersection is? I expect it's easy enough to follow if I start at the Grove again but having done that stretch before (and, since that part of the road was maintained until fairly recently, I found that it wasn't the best "old road time machine" experience), I'm more likely to start at Carlon and go up so I'd like to have a sense of whether or not I need to allow extra time for figuring out where I'm going!

From Hodgdon Meadow, you simply keep walking straight, past the residential area, until just before the road crosses the outlet of Hodgdon Meadow. You will see the street sign indicating the corner of "Tuolumne Meadow Grove" and "Aspen Way"--take Aspen Way to the north, where it will drop to the former site of Carl Inn (Carlon). (The road's name is probably because it would have continued to Aspen Valley--which with the Evergreen Road it still does...) From Carlon, simply start on the south side and follow the road past the locked gate uphill--it is still in use.
Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 22, 2017 06:29PM
I'm searching for the words to describe how gorgeous those
wild flower pictures are.....
avatar Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 26, 2017 04:23PM
Quote
basilbop
I didn't have my copy of the Auto Guide, and I also don't think that stop #5 in it is near Hodgdon Meadow.



I have the old Yosemite Road Guide handy:

Old Big Oak Flat Road – O5: Sugar Pine:
Directly behind this post is a sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana)...




Leave No Trace
Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 26, 2017 04:27PM
Thanks!

I can remember my dad driving us down the road from the Tuolumne Grove parking lot to the Hodgdon Meadow Campground... but I don't think we had the auto guide! If we did, don't remember (nothing new there..)

I recall it was a one-way drive.. and there were many people walking it too! Slow going.

That said, I'm glad it's just a trail now.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2017 04:29PM by JustKeepWalking.
avatar Re: Old Roads, Fading Trails
June 26, 2017 05:47PM
The last time I drove down that road was in 1990 during the Arch Rock fire. My family was traveling from Las Vegas to Mariposa that day, but Big Oak Flat Road was closed south of the Crane Flat Junction. We drove through the Tuolumne Grove (following other vehicles) and exited the park at the Hwy 120 entrance. The next day, we would be one of the first visitors to re-enter Yosemite Valley after the Park Service reopened the El Portal entrance to the park at 12:00 Noon.



Leave No Trace
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