Merced River Trail

Mariposa, California 95338

Merced River Trail

Merced River Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Following an old railroad bed, this out-and-back hike breaches the wild lower gorge of the Merced River, where hikers can explore the remains of an old mining settlement. Arriving at the North Fork of the Merced, you will find the pier of the old railroad bridge, the trestle long since washed away. The path swerves right, going up the canyon of the North Fork as it pours over its rocky bed. Watch out for poison oak. Along the banks are strewn the ruins of rock walls and ditches built by miners. The most intriguing is about 0. 2 mile upstream, where the trail passes a large boulder that serves as a roof on an underground chamber, walled off in the front with rocks."

More Merced River Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Backcountry Adventures: Northern California (Adler Publishing )
Peter Massey & Jeanne Wilson
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"This short trail travels alongside the Merced River, designated a wild and scenic river and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The trail is an easy one, suitable for passenger vehicles, and is open year-round. It leads to three BLM campgrounds (fee required), two permit-only public gold dredging sites, and a number of walk-in or boat-in campsites. The road is a popular in the summer because it provides easy access to many swimming holes along the river. The 4.9-mile trail passes three sets of rapids that are part of a 28-mile stretch of river popular with rafters. This section of the river, from Red Bud to Bagby, is rated Class III to Class V with one mandatory portage. The river is also popular with anglers, who can fish for brown and rainbow trout. Special Attractions: Fishing, swimming, rafting, and gold panning (where permitted) on the Merced River; BLM campgrounds and backcountry campsites; A popular mountain bike trail that continues to California 49. This trail is graded dirt but suitable for a normal passenger vehicle. It usually has gentle grades, is fairly wide, and has very shallow water crossings (if any)."
Best Hikes with Dogs: Central California (The Mountaineers Books)
Linda Mullaly & David Mullaly
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"This stretch of the Wild and Scenic Merced River Trail is within the Merced River Recreation Area under the BLM. This is a level, lightly used trail suitable for all canines and their humans."

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
2 to 3 hours.
April through June is best for wildflowers and water displays, though high water might prevent crossing of the Merced River’s north fork. October through March are pleasant, local weather conditions permitting. The hot days of July through September should be avoided, unless you plan to swim.
1,000 feet
Trailhead Elevation
1,050 feet
Top Elevation
Mariposa Inter-Agency Visitor Center
Local Contacts
USGS Bear Valley, Buckhorn Peak.
Local Maps

Trail Log