Central Mariposa County
The stunning Merced River runs near the Briceburg hike toward Yosemite. When the river is high, it is common to see rafts floating by. Highway 140 also follows the river but on the opposite side. In spring, you will see lots of butterflies flitting about as you walk where train tracks used to be.
At Briceburg, cross the one-lane-metal-and-wood bridge over the Merced River. Once you have crossed the bridge, turn right and proceed down trail.
Hiking Directions: The trail will begin by the little dirt parking area on the far right. If you take the left trail, you will be on the Burma Grade heading up the hill.
At the far end of the small parking area, you will find an open gate and the trail, that parallels the Merced River, heads north-east toward Yosemite.
This path was originally built for the train that carried passengers to and from El Portal near Yosemite. The rails and ties have all been removed, but you can see part of the turntable at El Portal if you would like to see it later in your journeys. To reach El Portal, take Highway 140 toward Yosemite with your vehicle and follow the signs for the El Portal post office.
When you are about three miles from the parking lot, you may be able to look to your right and see the meager remnants of Slate Creek Bridge built in 1926. At this point, you will be at the creek and, if it is flowing, you will need to rock hop across.
The turn-around point for this hike is approximately four miles from the start where you will see a sign for the Sierra National Forest off to your right on the far side of Highway 140 just past Sweetwater Creek Bridge.
On your way back, when you think you’re getting close to Briceburg, look for the last hill in the range. Once you get near it, you will see the bridge at Briceburg and know that you are close to your car.
Briceburg was named after the Brice Family who settled here. They moved their store and home from a Midpines gold camp to this valley when the railroad was scheduled to go all the way through to El Portal. 1907 marked the initial run of the train from Merced to El Portal. The railroad and the Brice’s store were in their glory until the Great Depression, World War II and Highway 140 came along, “The All Weather Highway,” built in 1926, took a toll on customers. The train chugged up the hill for the last time in 1945, and the rails were removed.
Enjoy the great bounty of plants and flowers. In the early spring, you will see shooting stars, poppies and redbud trees with their profuse fuchsia color. Next the bachelor buttons pop open and Mariposa lilies spring up in a variety of colors. To end the season, farewell-to-spring flowers appear. In August, most hills are blanketed in yellow when the tarweed blooms.
Content provided by Chery Davis, author of Mariposa Hiking Adventures. Purchase this hiking guide on Amazon