Sure, you can pretty much drive up to the Fresno Dome Trailhead but we parked at Soquel Meadow to check out the old barn and get a good workout, walking up the snow covered road.
Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 14.57 miles (but you can go more or less if you want to)
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Range: 5,373′ – 7.506′
Date: January 31, 2018
Topographic Quad Map: Ahwahnee Topographic Quad
Dog Hike? Yes
We headed up Sky Ranch Road off Hwy 41, just north of Oakhurst and met up at Sierra Sky Ranch. I arrived a little early and decided to wander inside Sierra Sky Ranch to check out the renovation that they have been undertaking. I met Scott Dangleis and he gave me a quick tour of the restaurant where a couple were enjoying the Continental Breakfast. As a bonus, Scott shared with me some stories of the ghosts that inhabit this location. He said that it is thought to be haunted by at least five separate ghosts.
When I walked into the restaurant, the Steakhouse and Saloon, I could feel the vibes of the history of this area. The Sierra Sky Ranch Resort was established in 1875 and was the first working cattle ranch in the area. In 1946 it was converted to a guest facility. In the old days the ranch supplied food for the logging camps at Sugar Pine and Soquel Meadow areas.
My hiking buddies arrived and we drove up Sierra Sky Ranch Road past the turnoff to Calvin Crest and Nelder Grove, and up to Soquel Meadow. I wondered how this beautiful meadow got its name and got my answer in Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway by Roger and Loris Mitchell. The Madera Flume and Trading Company had purchased a sawmill in the town of Soquel above Santa Cruz and moved it to this meadow. The Soquel Mill sent a lot of lumber down the flume to Madera during its heyday. Today a beautiful old barn sits at the top of the meadow and a photo op couldn’t be resisted.
Believe it or not, I have never hiked up to Fresno Dome and when my hiking buddy Deb threw the suggestion out, I was in! We headed up the road, not really know how snowy or icy the walking would get.
We started hitting patches on snow on the road in the shadier areas and we were really surprised to find this tiny snail slowly making his way across that snowy road. The temperature wasn’t much above freezing and this snail was moving really slow, so we gave him a little help getting over to the other side. What he was going to do over there is a mystery to us.
We continued up the road. The snow was easier to walk in and not as icy.
When we reached a patch of snow, I suggested to Deb that she should make a snow angel and she obliged.
We continued up the road.
We reached the trailhead to Fresno Dome, which wasn’t really the trailhead but it was a nice photo op. We wandered up to the real trailhead but if you are driving, there is a little spur road that takes off to the right but that trailhead parking area was kind of a muddy mess.
We crossed a small creek.
We followed the trail up 8/10ths of a mile to the top of Fresno Dome, stopping to admire the views along the way.
We had one little last stretch of trail that was in the open.
Then we reached the top of Fresno Dome which was known to the Mono Indians as “the greeting place” (“wah-me-yelo”). John Muir encountered Fresno Dome, calling it “Wamello”, in the 1870s, and used its summit to locate Fresno Grove which we now known as Nelder Grove.
From the top we could look down where we had come and even into Oakhurst. And we could look across the foggy valley and see a glimpse of the Coast Range.
Fresno Dome was the perfect place for our lunchspot.
It was time to head back down.
We retraced our route that we took in.
As we walked back down the road, it was much easier going because the snow had melted a little and it wasn’t as icy as it was in the morning.
I have to confess that Steve walked much faster than we did and reached our vehicle, drove back to pick us up, so we didn’t make it completely back to Soquel Meadows on our return. And I need to confess that we were very happy to see Steve and didn’t really care that we didn’t walk that remaining half mile or so. Just in case you want to drive up to the Trailhead to start your hike, there are directions at the USFS link for Fresno Dome at the end of this blog.
Dog Hike? Yes
I didn’t bring Sally on this hike, but she would have been welcome on it. Here are the Sierra National Forest rules for pets from their website:
Domestic pets are allowed in wilderness areas. You are responsible for their actions as well as their welfare. Pets should either be leashed or under direct voice control. When camping in areas with other visitors, pets should be kept on a leash. Wilderness visitor’s who plan to travel into an adjacent National Park should be aware that National Parks do not permit pets.
We ask the public to remember these rules when taking pets into the wilderness.
- Bury feces.
- Do not tie up dogs and leave them unattended.
- Do not allow dogs to chase wildlife.
- Leave unfriendly or loud dogs at home.
For additional information from Sierra National Forest regarding pets, please click the following link: Canine Camper
Map and Profile:
Soquel Meadow to Fresno Dome Doarama
Prior Blogs in the Area:
Hiking from Nelder Grove to Kelty Meadow October 26, 2015
Mitchell, Roger and Loris, Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway: Hidden Heart of the Central Sierra, Track & Trail Publications, Oakhurst, CA, 2006
Browning, Peter, Sierra Place Names: From Abbot to Zumwalt, Great West Books, 2011
The Canine Camper by Sierra National Forest