The Merced River runs next to the Briceburg hiking trail west, providing the melody of rushing water and occasionally, you will see rafts and kayaks floating along the river. The steep rocky sides of the canyon and the flora and fauna of the four seasons make this an excellent place to walk.
For hikers, drive the first five miles of Briceburg Road and hike from the parking area. Dogs on leashes are welcome at Briceburg.
For horses and bikes, you can park near Highway 140 at Briceburg and ride the first five miles of the road. The small rock falls that were mentioned are past the first five miles.
Hiking Directions: When you reach the gate after driving five miles, walk around it to the right and continue a short distance until you reach the bridge. Zigzag through the opening at the right and continue walking as far as you want. The trail is a road for about half a mile but very few cars use it.
You will also see a few pieces of old mining equipment from the gold rush days. Not far from the turn-around point, you will see a very old wooden flume. During the 1920’s, this flume provided water to an electric plant for use by the miners in the area.
The turn-around point is about 2.5 miles from the gate and you will see a cement structure on the riverbank with a trail that goes down beside it. You may continue on this trail for a longer walk, but this is the normal turn-around point for this particular hike. If you look to your right, it is said that this trail leads to a waterfall, but in places, it is very steep and narrow. We started up the trail, but gave up and turned around as it was a bit treacherous.
The path along the Merced River was built in 1907 for the railroad that carried passengers from the central valley to El Portal. Due to the Depression and World War II, the railroad lost customers and the last run occurred in 1945. The railroad ties have been removed making a nice path for those of us who love nature.
Flora: Amazing roses and gorgeous purple lupine, grow wild in the canyon. Spring brings numerous flowers in a variety of colors as the days march through the months.
You may see butterflies; rarely, you might see a snake, lizard or bobcat.
For a similar trail, try “Briceburg toward Yosemite.”
Content provided by Chery Davis, author of Mariposa Hiking Adventures. Purchase this hiking guide on Amazon.