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Hiking in Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park

If you don’t have time for a trip up to Yosemite or the Federal lands near us and still want to get out and enjoy nature, you don’t have to go far to get your fix in our own backyard at Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park off of Hwy 49 adjacent to Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee. Although I walked a little over five-and-a-half miles, you can do more or less and over flatter or hillier ground, your choice!

Where: Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park
Distance: 4.67 Miles (more or less, depending on how far you wish to go)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation Range: 2,279’– 2,682′
Date: January 31, 2020
Map: Ahwahnee Topographic Quad
Dog Hike? Yes

The Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park offers up 5 miles of walking or hiking trails, 2 miles of equestrian trails, picnic areas, restrooms, interpretive and study centers on 241 acres. Dogs are welcome, on leash, but I left Sally home for this adventure.

Entrance to the park is free for individuals, but a fee is required to reserve space or conduct events. Their website says that when staffing levels permit, the park will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. until dusk Wednesday through Sunday, with pedestrian access Mondays and Tuesdays via the Wasuma gate. A park host will be in residence or volunteer docents will be on duty at most times when the park is open to the public. I suggest that you check their website Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park for more specific and up to date information. Directions to the park, along with maps of the trails and rules are located on the website.

As soon as you begin to enter the park, you can’t miss the signs.

The park land is owned by Madera County, but the day-to-day operation, maintenance, and improvements are the responsibility of the Friends of Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park, a non-profit organization formed for this purpose. They have done an amazing job on the trails and park. The Friends is an all-volunteer group and they count on your donation of time or money to help this park going.

Their website also is full of information on the history of the land that the park is on, along with some wonderful historical pictures. They shared that the name Ahwahnee is an Indian word meaning “deep grassy valley.” They also have a fantastic map of their trails on their website with much more detail than my maps at the end of this blog, plus you can zoom in or out to print as you wish. There are approximately three miles of walking trails, another four miles of hiking trail, and six miles of equestrian trail. About one mile of the walking trails can accommodate wheelchairs. There are two handicapped parking areas designed to provide access to the walking trail. Some of the trails are used by all and some are focused on on a specific type of user. The park has three restrooms: a pit toilet at the ball fields, a pit toilet at the lake, and a flush toilet at the main parking lot with water fountains. All three are handicapped accessible. You can check out their website for rules and more information.

As I wandered along the trails, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like back when the Native Americans lived in this area. Lots of acorns and rocks to grind them were undoubtedly one of the tasks that were done in this area. Interesting history on the property can be located on their website and here are some tidbits:

  • In 1851, a force of 74 Anglo miners under the command of Captain James Burney, Sheriff of Mariposa County, fought a battle with the Miwok Indians on or near the park.
  • Ahwwahnee Tavern Stage Stop (1893-1913)

The Ahwahnee Tavern, ca. 1900-1903 Photo courtesy Zelda Garey Dubel [Public domain] Photo courtesy Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park

  • Tri-County Tuberculosis Sanatorium (1918-1969)

Tri-County Tuberculosis Sanatorium, 1924 Photo courtesy Fresno Flats Museum and Historical Park Photo courtesy Ahwahnee Hills Regional PArk

  • Ahwahnee Hills School for Boys (1969-1985)

If you love seeing these pictures, you can check out more historical pictures on their website. The Park is now a wonderful area that we can enjoy to exercise, picnic or just sit on one of the benches and enjoy watching the wildlife.

I didn’t have any specific direction or trails for my hike. I just wandered as I felt I wanted to wander.


Dog Hike? Yes

I was almost back to the car when I was met by Seymore and his people. It was the perfect example of how to hike at Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park. He was on leash per park rules and Madera County ordinance. Park rules state that violators will be ticketed.

All dogs in Madera County are expected to be under control at all times. They must be confined to your property. If you take them off your property, to go for a walk for example, they must be on a leash. Any dog found running at large can be impounded at the County Shelter or returned to its owner with a citation.

Dogs picked up in violation of the leash law may be redeemed at the shelter at 14269 Road 28 in Madera. Dogs brought in without identification are held for three (3) working days. Dogs with ID or known owners are held for ten (10) working days. Dogs unclaimed at the end of the holding period are available for adoption to responsible homes or can be euthanized after this time.

Link to Madera County Dog Ordinance Section 6.04.520 and Forward


What is a Doarama?  It is a video playback of the GPS track overlaid on a 3 dimensional interactive map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt it or spin it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Hike Doarama

Map and Profile:

Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Hike Topographic Map

Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Hike Profile

Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park (Courtesy their Home Page)


Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Home Page

Ahwahnee Tavern E. Clampus Vitus

The Last of the California Rangers (1928) by Jill L. Cossley-Batt

Madera Tribune, Number 136, September 21, 1954

Madera County Animal Laws

Madera County Dog Zone Sections 6.04.520 and Forward

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Hiking in Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park January 5, 2018

Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park Hike September 9, 2014

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