Explore Evergreen Road
Along Highway 120, just one mile before the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite, is Evergreen Road – an often overlooked area of the Yosemite region, but an area full of history and beautiful sights. Below we’ve featured some of our favorite stops along Evergreen Road.
Just one mile down Evergreen Road you’ll reach the South Fork of the Tuolumne River, and the starting point for the hike to Carlon Falls. There are two parking lots on either side of the road – both Upper and Lower Carlon Falls feature river access (for fishing and swimming), vault toilets, and picnic tables. Follow the signs near Upper Carlon Falls parking to the trailhead for a moderate 3.8 mile round trip hike to the falls. The very end requires a steep climb up to the falls, but it’s worth it! You could spend an entire day here picnicking and swimming, or you could continue on Evergreen Road to (you guessed it!) Evergreen Lodge.
Evergreen Lodge has been around since 1921, and was the post office, restaurant, and general store serving those living in the area and working on the Hetch Hetchy project. These days, Evergreen Lodge has transformed into a rustic family destination, with cabins, a pool, a tavern and restaurant. Grabbing a beer and a burger here after a long hike is definitely recommended!
The construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam across the Tuolumne River in 1919 brought many people to live and work in the Camp Mather area. The dam needed a local source for lumber, so a sawmill was built on the Mather property. At the same time, the Yosemite Park and Curry Company used the camp to house tourists interested in seeing both Yosemite National Park and the construction of the dam. Once the dam was complete, the facilities were no longer needed. The City of San Francisco then designated the property for use as a family recreation area. It remains a camp facility to this day, hosting families in cabins in the summer season.
Hetch Hetchy is a destination within Yosemite, accessed off Evergreen Road. It has been home to Native Americans, ranchers, and now, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The valley was renowned for its natural beauty, and was often compared to that of Yosemite Valley. However, it was targeted for the development of water supply and hydroelectric power by the City and County of San Francisco. Because the Valley is part of a national park, the Sierra Club and John Muir fought hard to prevent any development from occurring. Unfortunately, Congress authorized the damming of the valley in 1913 by passing the Raker Act, and the construction of O’Shaughnessy dam was completed in 1923. Though it was (and still remains) a controversial dam, it is a wonder to look at. Follow the trail along the dam for views of the Valley, or take a 5.5 round trip hike to the beautiful (and lesser known) Wapama Falls.