Photo: Frank Alcazar (CC)
The Highway 140 corridor through Mariposa County leads to the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park, offering plenty of recreational opportunity along its winding way. The gateway communities of Midpines and El Portal, not far from the park entrance, are surrounded by public lands and make great bases for outdoor-oriented DogTrekkers. Campgrounds abound, along with many dog-friendly lodgings where you and Fido will find a warm welcome at the end of your day.
The Merced River is a recreational magnet in this part of Mariposa County, and in spring, one of the best ways to appreciate its wild and scenic beauty is with a hike on the Hite Cove portion of the 18-mile Merced River Trail. From February into April, it’s all about wildflowers; many consider this the best easy wildflower walk in the region. Another good paws-to-the-path choice: Briceburg Canyon Trail, where a rail trail starting on the far side of a suspension bridge at the BLM visitors center runs for four miles on a hillside above the river along the former route of the Yosemite Valley Railroad.
Speaking of railroads: The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, near the community of Fish Camp on Highway 41, is an experience in history, scenery and good old-fashioned fun. Vintage locomotives pull old-time passenger cars along a four-mile route in the Sierra National Forest, and while dogs aren’t allowed on the moonlight specials or the evening dinner rides, leashed pets who won’t freak when they hear that lonesome whistle blow are welcome to share the journey.
Fish Camp is the gateway to Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance and another great place to make base camp. Tenaya Lodge, a full-service resort with more amenities than you can shake a bone at, offers luxury accommodations here, while the Narrow Gauge Inn near the Sugar Pine Railroad complex is a more affordable dog-friendly choice. Back in El Portal, check out the Yosemite View Lodge, with rooms overlooking the rushing Merced River. Of course, you could always get “The Bug”—Yosemite Bug, that is. This rustic mountain resort is perhaps the most diverse property in the area, offering lodging in new cabins, older cabins with shared bath, tent cabins and even hostel-style dorm rooms. Dogs are welcome in all but the dorm rooms, and attitudes toward canines are extremely mellow.