California Highway 49

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Highway 49


California Highway 49 is known as the Gold Rush Trail, an incredible scenic drive filled with historic places to visit and breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Foothills.

  • Take an incredible scenic drive along the Gold Rush Trail
  • California Highway 49 starts in Oakhurst, California, just south of Yosemite
  • Enjoy 300 miles of the Sierra Nevada foothills and amazing views and history
  • Visit the museums in Mariposa
  • Take a walking tour of Angels Camp
  • Fish in Frenchman Lake

Overview

Highway 49 was first established in the Gold Rush Days, connecting the mining towns throughout the Sierra Nevada Foothills. It is a scenic path taking you through pine and redwood forests, past pristine lakes and rivers, and into historic towns. It runs from Oakhurst, California north to Vinton and State Route 70.

Driving Directions

Highway 49 CA begins in Oakhurst, California, accessed by taking Highway 41 out of the southern entrance to Yosemite and following it to its junction with 49 in Oakhurst.

Highway 41 then winds north through some spectacular Sierra Nevada country, to Vinton, California near Frenchman Lake.

Time/Distance

Highway 49 California in its full length is approximately 326 miles and takes a little over 6 hours to drive one way.

Highlights

Hwy 49 has a number of historic towns along its route where you can stop and take in some history of the Gold Rush Days.

  • Mariposa
    Here you can stop and visit the California State Mining and Mineral Museum with many exhibits of fossils, gems and minerals. You can also see the Mariposa County History Museum with original documents, artwork and artifacts from the days of the Indian and later, the California Gold Rush.
  • Sonora
    The New Melones Visitors Center and Museum contains a rich history of the area, and you can wander through the cemeteries to get a flavor of what the early pioneers were like and difficulties they may have encountered.
  • Angels Camp
    Take a historic walking tour of the town and visit more than 50 historic sites and buildings. The Angels Camp Museum if filled with memorabilia from the mining days, and you’ll see a blacksmith shop from that period as well.
  • Placerville
    Tour Hangtown Gold Bug Park and see the only mine in California where visitors can enter. The El Dorado County Historical Museum offers a large collection of local Indian and pioneer artifacts.
  • Coloma
    The Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park is a place you can’t miss on your drive along Highway 49. Visit the many historic buildings dating back to the famous gold rush era. The museum tells the story of the men that found gold here and how it changed their lives forever.
  • Auburn
    Taking a walking tour of historic Old Town Auburn is a fascinating way to really get a taste of the Old West and the gold rush days in the Sierra foothills.
  • Grass Valley
    Two historic parks in Grass Valley offer a unique view of the California Gold Rush. The Empire Mine State Historic Park is the site of the oldest mine in California. At Bridgeport Historic State Park you can visit one of the last remaining 9 covered bridges built before 1900 in the state.
  • Nevada City
    Walk the streets of Nevada City and browse the shops for some great souvenirs to take home. You can also see the world’s largest hydraulic mine at Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park and tour the museum. Spend an evening at the Nevada Theatre built in 1865, where Mark Twain lectured, and still offering films, concerts and other events.
  • Frenchman Lake
    This recreation area close to Vinton, California has fishing, water sports and plenty of great camping.

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