Central Mariposa County
Follow a songful creek up Kemble Road – a quiet narrow country road that runs inside the boundary of the Sierra National Forest.
Start from a parking area beneath the William Sell Bridge. In 1972, the high curving bridge over the east fork of the Chowchilla River was given the first place award for being an outstanding example of a highway structure within the United States. Maybe you’ll agree with the Federal Highways Administration that “This is the way a bridge should look.” You can find the historical marker itself on the west side of Highway 49 just north of the Sell Bridge. (Side note: you are also close to eight other historic markers that you might be interested in.)
From the parking area, head southeast on Kemble Road paralleling the creek as it climbs steadily upward through pine and oak forests. Before you get to Nutter Ranch Road the foliage opens up to a beautiful view of the creek.
After about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) Kemble Road intersects Harris Road. At this point, you’re just up the street from the Foxtail Farm Bed & Breakfast – a working farm that supplies bed and breakfast guests with truly fresh farm-to-table fare that gets rave reviews. Turn right here, away from Foxtail Farm, and then continue past Stage Coach Road on the right to stay on Kemble road. Eventually, a left-hand curve leads you onto Worman Road and the intersection with Highway 49. That’s your turnaround point.
As you walk keep your eyes open for wild grape vines that spread across the ground and up into the pine trees and don’t wander into the poison oak patches that line the road near the beginning of the hike.
Because this is a paved road, this walk is relatively wheelchair and stroller friendly, or you might also enjoy exploring this scenic stretch of roadway by bicycle.
The William Sell Bridge is roughly 15 miles (24.1 km) from the town of Mariposa along Highway 49. As you approach the bridge, keep your eyes open for turnout to a small paved parking area on the right. This is the vista point with the historic marker. From there you should be able to see the sign for the right turn to Kemble Road which descends down into the canyon below the bridge.
Once you go under the bridge, you can park on the left, or cross the one-lane bridge and park wherever you can find a space off the road. Be careful to avoid parking on any dry grasses. These can catch on fire if they come in contact with the heat of your car’s exhaust system.