Upper Merced River Watershed Council













Current Focus

The current focus of the Upper Merced River Watershed Council is the development, maintenance and restoration of trails along the Merced Wild and Scenic River and in the watershed. Our efforts also include monitoring water quality and any threats to the river’s Wild and Scenic Status and therefore public access to the river. Visit our Stewardship Programs page for more detail or read about some of our programs below.

 The Merced River Trail

The Merced River Trail is a joint project of the Upper Merced River Watershed Council, the Mariposa County Planning Department, the Bureau of Land Management and Merced Irrigation District as Part of their Federal Energy Regulation Commission relicensing agreement.

Imagined by its advocates as a multi-use trail through the Merced River corridor, the Merced River Trail will follow the historic Yosemite Valley Railroad grade on the northern banks of the Merced River. You can read much more about this project here on our site or at the Mariposa County Planning Department website.

 South Fork and Hite's Cove Trail Restoration

The hiking trail to Hite’s Cove is a favorite wildflower hike and that trail extends along the South Fork of the Merced River to Wawona.

Our affiliated organization, Mariposa Trails, has been restoring and maintaining that trail for years. This trail is currently closed due to damage from the Ferguson Fire in 2018, making the work of this group more important than ever. Read about their work here.


Monitoring and Documenting Threats to the Merced River’s Wild and Scenic Status

The Wild and Scenic Status of the Merced River has several advantages to our community, first it guarantees public access to the river for recreation including hiking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, etc.. This is not only of benefit to those who live here and want to enjoy the river, but it is also a non-Yosemite based activities for visitors to our area, benefiting our local economy. Second, the protection afforded by Wild and Scenic status makes sure that the river remains in a condition that will assure that those visit the river will have a positive natural experience.

However, over the last 20 years, there have been a number of threats to the Wild and Scenic status of the Merced River, both to the headwaters in Yosemite National Park, and also to the lower end of the Wild and Scenic River where it flows into Lake McClure. Since these threats are as real today as they ever were, another focus of the Watershed Council is to monitor and document these threats. Please visit our page on the Merced Wild and Scenic River and the links therein.

Other Programs

You can read about the other programs our group conducts and organization with which we coordinate our efforts on our Stewardship Programs and Partner Organizations pages.













Current Events

Merced River Trail Speaker + Engagement Series
Feb. 26th, 6:30 PM El Portal Community Hall. Irene A. Vasquez is the secretary for the American Indian Council of Mariposa County (Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation) and an expert in eco-cultural uses of native plants. Learn about the river canyon’s place in generations of indigenous history, while shaping the Merced River Trail Master Plan’s guiding vision and aspirations.

Willand Creek Trail

Join the "South Fork Merced River Trailblazers" on Saturday Nov. 2nd to enjoy a volunteer day full of friendship and beauty. For more details on what to expect, where and when, visit the South Fork Merced River Trailblazers Facebook page.

Mariposa Trails hike to Hite’s Cove and trail work:

Monday, Sept. 30th. The goal is to recon the trail to Hite's Cove, and do some trail work on the return hike. While the trail is still officially closed, our agreement with the SNF allows access for trail work. If you can help, call Bill King at (209) 626-9898

The Great American River Cleanup: Saturday Sept 21, 9:00 AM at Briceburg.  Join the Watershed Council and Sierra Foothills Conservancy to help clean up the Merced River. Details here.

 Joint Meeting with Friends of the River:  Sept. 10 at 5:30 PM – Bodie Room at the Yosemite Bug.  Subject: the Wild and Scenic Status of the Merced River and discussion of the draft plan for the Sierra National Forest.

Merced River Trail: Kickoff meeting for the Merced River Trail with Mariposa County Public Works. June 3, 5:30 PM at the Grove House.