Trails and Tales of Yosemite
and the Central Sierra
A Guide for Hikers and History Buffs

by Sharon GiacomazziTrails and Tales of Yosemite Giacomazzi

We are so proud of our Sierra author! With this new printing of Giacomazzi’s first book, we updated all her great trails, adding new phone numbers and websites, bringing all up to date. We lost the Fremont Peak chapter, but we kept the history about Pathfinder John Fremont. We include a new chapter in the Gold Country section, adding the Red Hills of Chinese Camp, a wildflower and mountain bike Mecca with 17 miles of trails. Locals say it’s a great choice.

This rewarding guide includes both a detailed history of the Central Sierra and more than 60 hikes, revealing it’s best attractions. The book’s five sections: Gold Country, Western Slope, Yosemite Valley, other Yosemite Park, and Eastern Sierra provide a capsule history of this fascinating region, with many revealing details important and obscure—valuable lost gold coins near Mariposa, Native American trade routes, the race to build the first road into Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Park’s shameful early history before it was truly protected, building the original Tioga Road, and much more. Sharon is a born storyteller who knows the Central Sierra like the back of her hand. You’ll find ghost towns, waterfalls, wildflowers, Sequoia groves, hot springs, swimming holes, river canyons, lakes, and railroads, both excursion trains and historic lines long gone. Sharon includes several popular hikes, also leading us off the beaten path to hidden corners in Yosemite and the region. She emphasizes easy day hikes, but also includes peaks to climb, places to backpack, and resorts where you can just relax amidst scenic grandeur.

Many books cover Central Sierra trails, but readers and explorers who want a book of substance that paints a true and complex portrait of this key part of California should own this!

304 pages, 6" x 9", full-color cover, 59 historic and scenic photographs, 38 maps by Marsha Mello, bibliography, index, 2001.
New printing with updates for 2013.
ISBN 0-939431-25-4  trade paper

“Giacomazzi's enthusiasm for the world she writes about [Eastern Sierra canyons] is so infectious that her guidebooks are that rare thing: guidebooks that are actually a pleasure to read. And they are packed with useful information and historical lore, especially for the hiker new or relatively new to the Eastern Sierra.”
Michael Loughman, The Inyo Register

“I have read a lot and I mean a lot of Yosemite books . . . huge history buff! Your book is absolutely wow wow. I'm speechless! I can’t put it down once I start reading it. I am the guy who reads your book . . . jumps on a motorcycle heads out with a backpack and wants to explore everything. Your book is amazing I cannot say it enough. I mean from John Muir’s mossy boulder to the history of Hornitos. I share your enthusiasm right down to every word. Thanks for a great book! It is my intent to visit every spot!
I just wanted to say again how great this book is it makes me come alive!”

Price: $


From the back cover:

Explore the majestic Central Sierra and learn its fascinating history

This truly one-of-a-kind guide leads you to more than 60 of the best walks and hikes among the spectacular scenery of Yosemite Park and the surrounding Sierra, an area larger than MaryLand and Delaware combined. This comprehensive book features the Less traveled traiLs as weLL as some popular classics.

Trails & Tales of Yosemite & the Central Sierra will guide you to the best Sequoia groves, hidden waterfalls, most gorgeous canyons and wildflower blooms, most rewarding peaks to climb and other superb adventures.

Whether you're an avid hiker or a casual walker, you'll find the trails coming to life as Sharon Giacomazzi interweaves them with their historical context. She spins enthralling tales of native peoples, early explorers, Gold Rush mining, pioneer lumbering, early railroads, John Muir's adventures, and more.


  • 60 plus hikes of all levels covering more than 350 miles Year-round hiking choices in the Gold Country, Yosemite Park, adjacent national forests, and the Eastern Sierra
  • 38 clear and detailed maps
  • 60 photos and illustrations, including 34 classic historical images
  • A wealth of lively history & fascinating tales
From Murphys to Mammoth, from Markleeville to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Groves, wherever you want to explore, Sharon Giacomazzi shows you the way.

From the Table of Contents:

Foreword by Caetlin O'Riordan   9

Map of the Central Sierra   10

Introduction   11

How to Use This Book   13

Map Legend   14

The Dangers: Hiker's Ten Commandments   15

The Climate   17

I. Gold Country

Introduction: Off to See the Elephant   19

1. Murphys & Calaveras Big Trees State Park   23

2. Jamestown & the Sierra Railway   29

3. Red Hills of Chinese Camp    33

4. Bagby & the Merced River Trail   38

5. Merced River Trail Ramble    43

6. Hornitos   48

7. Legend of Mount Ophir   53
    Interlude: Pathfinder John Fremont's Time in Mariposa County

7. Fremont Peak 54

8. McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve   60

II. Western Slope: Trails North, West and South of Yosemite

Introduction: Waving Seas of Evergreens   63

9. Exploring Alpine County: PCT to Noble Lake   65

10. Clavey River & God's Bath    70

11. Bourland Trestle & the West Side Lumber Co. Railroad   75

12. Lake Eleanor & Preston Falls   81

13. Peach & Fig Growers Railroad   86

14. Rainbow Pool on the South Fork Tuolumne River   91

15. Wonders of Bower Cave & the North Fork Merced River Trail   97

16. Muir's Mossy Boulder on the Upper North Fork Merced River   102

17. Hite's Cove on the South Fork Merced River Trail   106

18. Yosemite Mountain-Sugar Pine Railroad    111

19. Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail   115

20. Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias    118

21. Willow Creek Trail: Angel Falls & Devil's Slide    122

22. Jackass Lakes in Ansel Adams Wilderness    126

23. Mono Hot Springs & Doris & Tule Lakes   130

III. Yosemite National Park/ Yosemite Valley

Introduction: The Incomparable Valley   135

Visiting Yosemite Valley   135

A Capsule History of Yosemite   136

24. Artist Point & Artist Thomas Hill   140

25. Inspiration Point & Artist Thomas Ayres   144

26. Hiking Old Big Oak Flat Road to Rainbow View   149

27. Ahwahnee Hotel to Mirror Lake   153

28. Mirror Lake—Mirror Meadow   159

29. Half Dome   162

IV. Yosemite National Park Outside the Valley

Introduction: A Wealth of Glorious Terrain   169

30. Carlon Falls   171

31. Hetch Hetchy to Wapama & Rancheria Falls    176

32. Merced Grove via the Coulterville Road   181

33. Tuolumne Grove via Old Big Oak Flat Road   186

34. Foresta Forever & Little Nellie Falls   191

35. Old Foresta Road Past Waterfalls to El Portal   196

36. May Lake & Mount Hoffman   200
     Interlude: High Sierra Camps   204

37. Snow Creek Trail    207

38. Four-Mile Trail between Glacier Point & Yosemite Valley    212

39. Sentinel Dome-Taft Point Loop   217

40. Wawona & the Meadow Loop    220

41. Stella Lake & the Swinging Bridge   225

42. Mono Pass & Bloody Canyon   229

43. Mount Dana Experience    233

V. Eastern Sierra

Introduction: Birthed in Fire, Sculpted by Ice   239

44. Bennettville & the History of Tioga Road   240

45. Gardisky Lake & Tioga Crest   246

46. Green Treble Lake & Hall Natural Area   249

47. Allure of Lundy Canyon   253

48. Green Creek Canyon to East Lake   258

49. Bodie State Historic Park   262

50. June Lakes Basin & Parker Lake    267
     Interlude: Explore Mono Lake    268

51. Devils Postpile & Rainbow Falls    273

52. Convict Lake    276

53. Rock Creek Canyon   280

54. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Groves    285

Further Reading   290

Index   294

About the Author   303

About Bored Feet   304

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