The West Side Trail is a re-purposed three-foot narrow gauge railroad which was part of the Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valley Railroad. This railroad operated from 1898 to the early 1960’s by the West Side Lumber Company. Originally known as the West Side Lumber and Flume Company, they soon dropped the “and Flume” from their name because the orginal plan to build a flume to float logs from deep within the Stanislaus National Forest to the mill pond proved impossible due to the numerous steep and rugged canyons of this area. Instead they built this extensive railroad system and its sole purpose was to haul fresh-cut timbers from the forests of eastern Tuolumne County to the West Side Lumber Mill located in the city of Tuolumne. Eventually Westside Lumber was bought out by the Pickering Lumber Corporation where it resumed logging operations (minus a short hiatus during the 1930’s depression) until the last runs were made June 7, 1961.
Today this railroad grade is used by hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The trail starts at milepost marker 1.5 where the former Friedenberg station was, currently the corner of Buchanan Rd. and Mira Monte Rd. (milepost 0 is at the old West Side Lumber Mill). The trail follows the grade downhill for about five miles and terminates at a wooden staircase leading down to the River Ranch Campground. If you were to continue on for another mile or so the railroad grade will eventually cross over the North Fork Tuolumne River where the old wooden train trestle used to be. This section of the trail is not maintained for recreation use and may be over-grown so watch out for the poison oak!
Click here for a map of the West Side Trail courtesy of the Tuolumne County Transportation Council.
- Difficulty: easy
- Distance: 5 miles one-way
- Elevation Change: 320 ft.
- Best Season: spring, early/late summer
- Open To: hikers, bikers, horseback
- Dogs: yes