This is ranch land, with some of the richest grazing areas in the state. The western portions of Mariposa County encompass rolling foothills, dotted with oaks and some pine trees. But these western foothills hold more than cattle and sheep. There are many attractions for both the outdoor enthusiast and the historian.
Along Highway 140, west of the town of Mariposa, you’ll find Catheys Valley, which originated as a ranching community in the early 1850’s. Here you can slow down and explore the winding, unfrequented side roads, which put you in the midst of wildflowers in spring, numerous field birds, soaring hawks and the occasional golden eagle. All of that stands in the shadows of amazing vistas of distant Sierra peaks. The rolling hills and quiet roads in this part of Mariposa County, California are perfect for road bikes, especially in early spring when roadsides are painted with wildflowers. Hornitos Road from Catheys Valley to Hornitos is a particular favorite.
Whether you’re biking or driving, keep your camera ready. Not only will you spot many birds and other animals in the oak-dotted landscape, if you keep your eyes open you can also find fascinating historic markers with tidbits about the rich history of this area. The Catheys Valley Historic Marker tells the story of the Miwuk people who spent winters in the valley, the family from North Carolina that gave the valley its name, the Chinese laborers who built the native rock fence boundaries, and more. Nearby there is also a marker for the Catheys Valley schoolhouse, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1879 that has served as church, dance hall, and a meeting place for the Home Guard during WWII.
If you love ranch culture, you’ll love Catheys Valley. You won’t find another area in the western United States with a better road-less-traveled ranchland experience. Leave behind cookie-cutter hotel experiences and enjoy warm personal welcomes from friendly locals looking to share their lifestyles with you.
For example, “The 56“, a 56-acre Yosemite Foothills Ranch provides a beautifully appointed 2-bedroom guest home that sleeps up to 6. You can explore the quad trails on this large open property, ideal for hiking, mountain biking or walking your dog right from your front door (be sure to close gates behind you so that grazing cattle don’t wander off). Plus, while you’re there, the hosts have set up activities where you can enjoy riding their quarter horses and mini horses, and even try driving a mini horse and cart.
At Miners Rock Ranch and Bear Creek Ranch you’ll find spacious two-bedroom place to stay in the rolling hills of Catheys Valley, and plenty of farm animals to interact with on your way in and out, including sheep, goats, llamas, cattle and burros.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a delightful bed and breakfast experience at the Posada Mariana. This warm and welcoming property sits on a secluded 25-acre property with tremendous sunset views. The buildings are designed after an old Spanish Hacienda, and each uniquely decorated room has a private entrance from a gorgeous central courtyard. Looking for a venue for a special event? Posada Mariana also hosts weddings that can seat up to 100 people al fresco.