There are many ways to get to the High Sierra, all of them scenic, some a little more leisurely and winding than others. If time permits and you like lots of diversion on a road trip, follow the Golden Chain Highway (aka Highway 49) south through Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties before cutting east through Yosemite National Park and taking Highway 20 (the Tioga Road) up and over 9,943-foot Tioga Pass.
Along the way, you’ll encounter lots of dog-friendly attractions, from wineries where you can sip and swirl to hiking trails, one-of-a-kind places to stay and even excursion trains that both of you can ride.
The Tioga Road lands you in Lee Vining, a tourist town on Highway 395, one of the most scenic roads in California. It’s just a short drive north to Mono Lake, a geological curiosity of a place with surrealistic tufa formations and quite a few dog-friendly trails. To the south, the Mammoth Lakes resort area beckons with hiking, fishing, boating, camping and other recreational pursuits.
At Mammoth Mountain, DogTrekkers can ride the Panorama Gondola to its dizzying, 11,053-foot summit and hike down the backside along a chain of lakes and streams. Hitch a ride back to the town of Mammoth on a free shuttle bus, but know there’s a catch: Spot will have to be muzzled as well as leashed. The same rule applies aboard the National Park Service shuttle bus ($7) to Red’s Meadow and Devil’s Postpile National Monument (where, in an exception to rules in effect at most national parks, leashed dogs are allowed on trails).
But don’t make Mammoth your final stop. Less than an hour south on Highway 395 is the town of Bishop, gateway to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, home to some of the oldest trees in the world. Be forewarned: The air is really, really thin up here. There’s no piped water, so come prepared. Leashed dogs are allowed on self-guided trails that allow exploration of the Schulman Grove, Patriarch Grove and other sites where the gnarly trees go. Call before you go to check on road and trail conditions, as a heavy snowpack means access may not be available before mid-summer.
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