West Side Rails Trail

Cristy and I decided to hike another trail made from old railroad rights of way.  Today’s hike was on the West Side Rails trail which starts in Tuolumne City near Sonora, CA.  The parking area is just a dirt pullout along side the road.  The access to the trail is kind of hard to find; it’s a set of wooden stairs midway at the dirt parking area.  The walk down the trail is beautiful.  Wildflowers are still in full bloom and bush lupine makes the trail smell wonderful.  I can’t normally smell flowers but this lupine is amazingly fragrant.  The first half mile is wooded but then it opens up to a sparsely wooded hillside with sweeping views of the canyon and river below.

The trail is all basically downhill so the walk out is super easy.  The walk back is uphill so you have to keep that in mind in deciding how far to go down the trail.  Luckily the trail is graded for trains so the climb is very easy.  Many sections of the track are still visible.  There are signs along the trail that tell the history of the railroad and stories of the men that ran this route. Here is what Trail Link has to say about this railroad:

The timber industry in the county was in full gear at the turn of the 20th century. An impressive sawmill was built at that time, and the West Side Lumber Company constructed its own narrow gauge railroad, called the Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley Railway, to bring timber to the mill. In total, more than 70 miles of mainline track were constructed in the area. The initial stretch of the mainline grade, constructed without the benefit of bulldozers and loaders, was blasted into an extremely steep and rocky canyon.

If you’re in the Sonora, CA area and are looking for a nice walk and a nice way to spend a morning stop by the West Side Rails trail.  Here are some of the photos we took on the trail…

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