How about a short hike not too far from home with beautiful views of Oakhurst and the surrounding mountains? It was known to the Mono Indians as “wah-me-yelo” (“the greeting place”), much more poetic of a name than Fresno Dome in my opinion.
Where: Sierra National Forest
Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation Range: 7,184′ – 7,503′
Date: August 5, 2021
CALTOPO: Fresno Dome Hike
Dog Hike? Yes
I headed up Sky Ranch Road (Road 632) off Hwy 41, just north of Oakhurst. This becomes Forest Road (6S10) to Kelty Meadow. After the pavement ended, I dodged the potholes, rocks and ruts, following the signs to Fresno Dome. After driving by the currently closed Fresno Dome Campground, I continued on the same road to the right for another 2.8 miles to the turnoff for the Fresno Dome Trailhead.
After the rocky sign, a signed dirt road spur (6S10C) led to a small looped parking area. I decided to not park down there because I didn’t plan on being there long and didn’t want to risk someone blocking me when I was ready to leave so I parked at a pullout on the main road just above the spur road. Just fyi, in early spring, this parking lot can be a muddy mess.
I walked down the spur road to the trailhead and a vehicle had pulled in after I had cased the parking lot.
The Fresno Dome trail is a short one, just 1.6 miles long roundtrip. Shortly after I hit the trail, it crossed a small creek that had dried up but it was still lush with Bigalow’s Sneezeweed finishing up their blooms for the year.
I could sure tell that the Mono Wind Event had taken many trees down in this area. Many trees on this trail had been cleared, leaving nice clean sections but there were still some laying across the trail. Nothing was too big to climb or walk over or around.
The trail rose above the trees and I could see my destination ahead.
The trail headed up the rocky and granite slabby slope toward the summit of Fresno Dome.
The switchbacked trail wound its way up. Actually there are several trails going up from this point, some sticking to the slabs and some utilizing rock steps.
I reached the top of Fresno Dome (7,540′ elevation) and took in the views that John Muir used to locate Fresno Grove, which we now call Nelder Grove. Mono Indians also took in these views long before that. Their name for Fresno Dome is “wah-me-yelo”, translated as “the greeting place.” I wondered what type of greeting place it was when it was named.
And this is exactly why I made this climb to the top of Fresno Dome. What wonderful views! From the top I could look down into Oakhurst. On a very clear day, you can even see the coast range, but not today.
As I headed down pretty much the same way I had come up, the thought came to me that I was walking in the exact footsteps of those people who gathered here so long ago. I deviated a little toward the bottom, cutting over to the road on a climber’s trail to avoid the down trees.
I met a couple of people heading out to do some climbing on Fresno Dome, another popular thing to do here. As I drove back, I swung into the paved Fresno Dome Overlook for a look at Fresno Dome from a different side.
On the way back, I made a quick stop at Soquel Meadow. Exploring the Sierra Vista National Scenic Byway by Roger and Loris Mitchell shared some information on how it received its name. 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 which is privately owned and fenced but mighty pretty to look at from the road.
A lower clearance vehicle could have made it up the day I hiked this but in early spring when the road is icy with snow on it, it is definately a 4WD road. There are other ways to get to this Trailhead to start your hike and the USFS link for Fresno Dome at the end of this blog has them for you.
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:
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.
CALTOPO has some free options for mapping and here is a link to my hike this week, which you can view or download: CALTOPO: Fresno Dome Hike
Prior Blogs in the Area:
Hiking From Soquel Meadow to Fresno Dome January 31, 2018
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