The Gold Rush-era prospectors who swarmed the Sierra Nevada foothills in the 1850s made an indelible mark on Tuolumne County, dotting the map with a string of settlements—Sonora, Columbia, Jamestown, Twain Harte, Groveland—that still have a boomtown feel, as well as a relaxed attitude toward dogs.
There’s plenty to see and do as you and your four-legged friend wander through rugged scenery from the foothills into the High Sierra. For an introductory, fun-filled getaway, make base camp in Sonora or Jamestown and let serendipity be your guide along the Highway 49/120/108 corridors. House-trained, good-natured canines (and their well-behaved owners) will find a warm welcome at Jamestown’s circa-1859 National Hotel, whose vine-covered patio is a great place to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. In Sonora, dogs are welcome at the Best Western Sonora Oaks, Country Inn Sonora and Heritage Inn Yosemite-Sonora, not to mention numerous pet-friendly B&Bs and vacation rentals.
Up for some immersion in nature? Make a day’s adventure of it by branching off onto Highway 108, which climbs high into the Sierra, passing through Twain Harte and summiting at Sonora Pass, second-highest pass in the Sierra at 9,624 feet elevation. Drive about an hour and a half to the Stanislaus National Forest’s Summit Ranger Station at the Pinecrest Lake turnoff. Pick up a trail map and put paws to a path that suits your time, interest and ability level. Be sure to stop at Donnell Vista for sweeping views of the Stanislaus River Canyon.
Back on 120, continue toward Yosemite National Park’s Big Oak Flat (north) entrance, and you’ll find lots of charm in the historic and walkable town of Groveland. The surrounding Stanislaus National Forest is a recreational wonderland with many day-hike opportunities. Located off Highway 20 on the way to Yosemite National Park, Rainbow Pool is a great place for picnicking and fishing.
As the day dims, it’s nice to come “home” to a hot shower and comfortable surroundings. Yosemite Pines, a family-friendly RV park and resort, offers furnished cabins, a swimming pool, petting zoo, gold panning, bike trail, campfire, storytelling and organized activities. The Hotel Charlotte is another dog-friendly favorite, as is the recently revamped Groveland Hotel, now under the same management as the Charlotte and well known for a fine-dining restaurant that spills onto a dog-friendly patio.
As for Yosemite: Click here to learn about the many activities you can enjoy with your dog in the national park.
Photo Credit: @namastenadine