Tuolumne's Top 7 on the Edge of Yosemite

By Tori Peglar ,

Pronounced “two-all-of-me,” half of Tuolumne County lies in Yosemite. Discover the top seven things to do in its quaint towns from boating to Gold Rush-era experiences.

1. Cover’s Apple Ranch

Galore apple trees at Cover's Apple Ranch near Sonora

Photo courtesy of Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau

Why go: Apples have grown here since 1929. Catering to families, the ranch has barnyard animals and a miniature train kids can ride.

Tip: Sip fresh-pressed cider and eat at the ranch’s deli where baked goods are hard to resist.

2. Emigrant Wilderness

A natural garden in the Emigrant Wilderness in Toulumne County.

Milcolm Manners via Flickr

Why go: Hike in solitude at this 113,000-acre wilderness area bordered by Yosemite to the south. Filled with placid lakes and gorgeous scenery, you’ll feel like you have the Sierra all to yourself.

Tip: For a moderate trail, try the Crabtree Trail, an 8.7-mile out and back trail near Pinecrest that features a lake.

3. Columbia State Historic Park

Visitors on the streets of Columbia State Historic Park

Photo by Menka Belgal coutesy of Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau

Why go: See what life was like during the Gold Rush era when more than $1 billion was mined in the area between 1850-70s. Walk the streets to see a stagecoach loading passengers, browse the 1850s-era shops, dine at a restaurant, pan for gold or stay the night at one of two historic hotels.

Little-known fact: Scenes from the TV hit show Little House on the Prairie starring Michael Landon were filmed here during the show's run 1974-83.

4. Pinecrest

Paddling on Pinecrest Lake

Photo courtesy of Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau

Why go: Rent paddle boats, cabins or stay at a resort at this stunning lakeside area off Hwy. 108.

Tip: Watch a movie under the stars at the Pinecrest Theater on the lake that plays outdoor movies Memorial Day through Labor Day. The wood in the gorgeous amphitheater is reclaimed wood from the 2013 Rim Fire that burned portions of Yosemite and the surrounding area.

5. Groveland

Groveland Main Street

Grant Ordelheide

Why go: Twenty-four miles from the Big Oak Flat Entrance, this historic town is fun to stroll. Listen to live music on the outdoor patio of the Groveland Hotel. It’s the largest town between the entrance and Sonora, Calif.

Tip: Stop by the Iron Door Saloon, the oldest continuously operating saloon in the state, which opened its doors in 1852.

6. Jamestown

Steam-powered train excursion from Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.

Kevin Zimmerman

Why go: This quaint town is a great place to stop for a meal or overnight, especially if you want to see Railtown 1897 State Historic Park where a number of Hollywood movies were filmed.

Tip: Spend the night at the Jamestown Hotel, which is on Main Street. Recently remodeled with free Wi-Fi in every room, the hotel was built in 1919 and offers great customer service.

7. Indigeny Reserve

The covered bridge at Indigeny Reserve near Sonora, Calif. 

Photo courtesy of Tuolumne County

Why go: Founded by Jay and Judy Watson who opened their doors to the public in 2012, the Watsons produce hard ciders, brandy and vodkas that you can sample in the tasting room.

Tip: Bring a picnic to eat amid 160 acres of organic apple orchards and hiking trails. 

For More Information:

Stop by the Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau, which operates two year-round and one seasonal visitor center. In Sonora, go to 542 W. Stockton St. (Hwy. 49). In Chinese Camp, go to 13785 Hwy. 49/120. In Groveland, visit 18687 Main St. (seasonal).

(800) 446-1333