Upper Merced River Watershed Council

 

Hite's Cove and South Fork Trail Work by Mariposa Trails

 

The Hite Cove trail is currently closed due to damage from the Ferguson Fire in 2018 and will likely be closed until sometime in 2020.

 

Mariposa Trails

The affiliated Mariposa Trails organization, previously known as the South Fork Trailblazers, is committed to restoring the South Fork Trail after the Ferguson Fire and maintaining and preserving the Hite's Cove and South Fork trails along the Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Merced River. The Mariposa Trails' work parties have both trail restoration workdays and multi-day excursions into the more remote portions of the trail.

The Hite's Cove Trail

Hite’s Cove (also called Hites Cove or Hite Cove) is located on the Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Merced River about 4.5 miles east of HWY 140 near El Portal. Hite’s Cove is the location of an historic gold mine from the goldrush days when thousands of people lived and mined in the Jerseydale and Hite’s Cove area. The name honors John Hite, who discovered gold at the site.

Today, there are only a few pieces of rusty mining equipment to remind us of what was once an active mining community.

 

The best way to get to Hite’s Cove is by hiking the Hite’s Cove Trail starting at Savages Trading post near El Portal on HWY 140. Not only can you get to Hite’s Cove and beyond, but this hike is considered one of the best hikes in the area for wildflowers in the early spring with over 60 varieties of wildflowers blanketing the hillsides.  This trail is therefore very popular from February to April of most years.

The trail is along the north side of the South Fork of the Merced River and is narrow, as is the river canyon. The trail starts well above the river but descends to the river level after about a mile and a half. From there you walk along the river to Hite’s Cove.  See yosemitehikes for more information about this section of the trail.

But if you want a real wilderness hike along the pristine seldom visited Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Merced River, keep going!

 

 

The South Fork Trail

The Hite’s Cove trail is part of a much longer trail along the Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Merced River that extends all the way to HWY 41 at Wawona. This less traveled section of the trail offers a true wilderness experience in some of the most steep and rugged terrain in the area that is accessible only by trail.

As an Incident Commander said during an Incident Team meeting for fighting the Ferguson Fire in 2018, “You my know that some of the peaks and gulches in this area have “Devil” in their name. There is a reason for that; the terrain is incredibly rugged and steep.”

 

 

The Ferguson Fire in 2018 burned almost 100,000 acres in Mariposa County, much of which was in the of the South Fork of the Merced River watershed. The trail was damaged and restoration work is needed. But life is returning to the area and Mariposa Trails is working with the Sierra National Forest to restore the Hite’s Cove and South Fork Trails.