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 Mushing trails in Northern CA (near Sonora)?

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snodogs Posted - 12/24/2007 : 4:01:48 PM
Hi All,

I'm planning to visit my brother in northern California (just after the 1st of the year) and was wondering if anyone knew of trails that I could go mushing on (am thinking of bringing my dogs with me). He lives in Sonora, CA, which is northeast of Modesto and southeast of Sacramento. He also lives about 45 minutes from the Dodge Ski Resort. Anyone know of any trails (snowmobile trails or otherwise) near this resort?


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snodogs Posted - 12/30/2007 : 07:47:57 AM
Hi Mbeers,

Thanks for the advice. Good idea about posting a sign! If I make it up there, I'll let you know how it goes!

mbeers Posted - 12/26/2007 : 1:15:34 PM
Almost any trail you can find to run sled dogs on in CA that has been packed or groomed in any way is also used by snowmobiles--and generally a lot of them.

Most snowmobilers are pretty friendly and happy to see the dogs. Some are yahoos--just like in every population of 'user'.

I would not necessarily let snowmobiles deter you although you may want to post a sign that you're out on the trail just so they have a heads up if dog teams aren't out there frequently. But you'd be not much more at risk from them than a cross country skier would be and they are used to those--unless you're dogs don't run on the right well.

Sounds like the other trail might be nice but may not be groomed even by many snowmobiles if they don't generally use it so you'll likely be breaking your own trail. Let me know how you find it if you get up there--I'd be curious for my own use sometime.

Also our snow is very wet here and sometimes slushy so be careful hooking down in 1ft of snow.
snodogs Posted - 12/26/2007 : 11:54:49 AM
Hi Mbeer,

Just talked to a Pinecrest Forest Ranger about the Sno-Park. He said it's more of a snow play area with lots of snowmobilers. He suggested it wouldn't be "ideal" for a dog team, but mostly because the snowmobilers aren't used to seeing dog teams and they tend to drive very fast etc.

He did suggest another option. Apparently there is a road that begins at Herring Creek (called the Herring Creek Road) that is closed during winter. This road is 3-4 miles past Pinecrest. He said it's paved for the 1st 6 miles, but is currently covered by 1 foot of snow. After 6 miles it turns into a dirt road and provides a loop trail that goes for about 24 miles total. He thought this might be a much better option for mushing.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know what I found out. If I make it up to Sonora, I'll probably check it out!
snodogs Posted - 12/26/2007 : 11:44:39 AM
Hi Mbeers,

Thanks so much for the great info -- I'll check it out and see if it's doable with a dog team. If I do run dogs there, I'll let you know the outcome!


mbeers Posted - 12/25/2007 : 09:32:15 AM
Snodogs, they close the road over Sonora Pass up a ways (30-40mi) from Sonora in the winter. I don't believe it's groomed (not sure) but there is a Sno-Park there and trails and it's used by snowmobiles.

Here's info from the sno-park website. You will need a pass for parking--I'm sure there are plenty of places to get those in Sonora or Strawberry.

Highway 108 Sno-Park
Winter closure gate on Highway 108, six miles east of Strawberry in Tuolumne County. Snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing and limited snow play. Limited overnight parking. Call USFS (209) 965-3434.

P.S. Some caveats--I have not personally been on this trail but I know of a couple people who have. Have not heard either way whether it's good or bad. I also don't know what the snow situation is up there--most places got a 2-3 feet with the last storm but you should double check with the Forest Service to see what they can tell you.

In my experience, they don't have a lot of experience with dog teams so their information isn't perfect but they can tell you generally how many feet are on the road and whether it's slushy (so can't hold a hook) or not.

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