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Blog Where to Spot Fall Foliage & Hike Around Oakhurst During the Fall
Ciara Turner-Ewert | 10/11/2022Hiking, Nature, Outdoor Activities, Road Trip, Seasons |   

Where to Spot Fall Foliage & Hike Around Oakhurst During the Fall

Are you looking to escape an ordinary visit to Oakhurst? If so, a visit during fall to get whisked away by vivid pops of colors is sure to do the trick. Imagine trees with a splash of golden yellow and a tinge of light green near Bass Lake, or picture random trees spread throughout town casting a passionate fiery red color. In addition, the weather is cooler and sunlight is abound similar to those long summer days. Aside from the ideal weather, the crowds also start thinning out during this season. I’d say that’s a win-win on being a great time to visit!

With this in mind, I drove to Oakhurst to uncover the best places to spot fall foliage and hike during the lovely autumn season and here’s what I found. Keep on scrolling to find out more.

While these hikes can be done any time of year, they are especially pretty in the middle of fall. Each of these hikes captures the essence of fall (aka lots of bright colors) in the Oakhurst area.

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

Nestled along the Sierra Nevada Foothills is Sierra Meadows, a former golf course revamped into a glamping resort that’s home to miles and miles of paved pathways. It’s ten minutes outside of Oakhurst and is an excellent location for anyone craving a biking or hiking adventure on well-maintained paths. It’s a low-key spot and you likely won’t encounter anybody else on the 140 acres of trails. If you’re a guest at the resort, you can also rent bikes for free and ride around.

Along the 6 miles of trails you’ll find unique sculptures, hammocks tucked among the trees, ponds, creeks, and lots of birds. I even saw a coyote here on my last day. In addition, because this is a meadow, this property has some gorgeous sunsets. Watch the sun dip beneath the trees by hiking up one of the small hills for a bird’s eye view or observe it from the center of the meadow. Both options are absolutely stunning!

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

What I love most about this hiking trail is that it’s a self-guided, interactive trail complete with panels educating hikers about the Mono or Monache. It’s a 0.5-mile loop that’s relatively easy and leads to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking Bass Lake. It’s a steady incline with a couple switchbacks throughout the hike to get to the lookout point, but it’s not long at all. On average this trail takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Once you reach the end, expect to be wowed by the incredible scenery. During fall you’ll see the yellowish trees bursting through the leafy green forest.

Don’t forget to spend time reading the signs to learn more about the Mono people and their way of life, and the trees on the trail. At the top on the giant boulder, you’ll find round depressions in the rock known as grinding stones. These holes were used to grind a variety of items, from acorns to herbs, and more. (Editor's note: to learn more about the history and cultural traditions of the Mono, head to the Sierra Mono Museum & Cultural Center in North Fork.)

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

Another hiking trail to explore at Bass Lake is Goat Mountain Trail. When it comes to this trail, there are two options - a shorter 6.6 mile out-and-back trek or a 9.8 mile out-and-back hike to Goat Mountain Lookout. Both hikes are moderately challenging and welcome mountain bikers, dogs on leashes, and runners. 

The easiest way to access the trail is to park near The Forks Resort or at Forks Campground (if the campground is open). From here you'll follow the road up the hill until you reach the Goat Mountain Trailhead. The dirt path starts off level, then gradually picks up in inclination once you pass the giant open dirt road-like area and ends with a steep uphill trek. Unwind as you hike along the giant Ponderosa Pines and Bass Lake and the yellowish trees in the backdrop. 

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

Have you hiked a dam before? If not, give Bass Lake Dam a whirl. Built in 1896, this dam attracts locals and tourists alike to explore its beauty, water activities, and the surrounding areas. You can thank (or blame) me later as this spot is one of the best locations for hunting rich fall foliage in Oakhurst. Some trees are classic evergreen, while others flock vibrant hues of yellow.

Unlike the other hikes, this trail is completely flat, paved, and accessible. Park along Road 222 at the southeastern most part of the lake, then take a stroll on the concrete path. Keep in mind the trial is pretty short, but it’s easy to extend the hike a little further by hiking in the wooded area that lies just past the dam. I hiked to the Spillway, then continued towards Brown Ditch. Here you’ll find some rolling small hills and paths just on the other side of the dam.  

For anyone looking for more adventurous things to do in Oakhurst during the fall, I got you covered. Some festive activities I highly recommend checking out are axe throwing and attending the Oakhurst Fall Festival. It runs in October and is Eastern Madera County’s biggest event.

You can also ride the Oakhurst Trolley around town to spot fall foliage, snag movie tickets at Yosemite Cinema to have a VR experience of Yosemite National Park, and rent a UTV or Jeep from Yosemite Adventure Company to go on an off-roading adventure. Whether you’re tired after a long hike, on your recovery day, or craving more adventure — these fall activities are great for anyone.   

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

When it comes to dining in Oakhurst, you’ll find several mom and pop eateries worth checking out. From classic American staples like burgers and pizzas to Indian food and vegan-ish cuisine, this mountain town has plenty of options to chow down on before or after a hike.

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

If you’re a fan of brunch or a big breakfast before you hike, some of the best restaurants to dine at include the Wild Fig Kitchen and Duceys On The Lake. Wild Fig Kitchen offers breakfast burritos, savory sweet potato hashes, pancakes, and more. Whereas Duceys On The Lake dishes out fluffy omelettes, french toast, and waffles with a lakeside view. There’s also Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen if your craving a true brunch experience complete with wine tasting.

After spending the day hiking, expect to be hungry whether youre grabbing a late lunch or dinner. If you’re craving Mexican food, I recommend grabbing some tasty tacos, burritos, and more from the family-run restaurant, Plazuelas Mexican Restaurant. On the other hand, if you’re seeking a cozy ambiance with a fireplace, then you’ll want to check out Oakhurst Grill & Whiskey 41 Lounge. This eatery serves up comfort food such as clam chowder in a bread bowl and features a wide selection of whiskeys. For a romantic dinner, dine at the newly opened Cowboy Tavern which is set in a historic ranch. Grab dessert here or head over to Remiers Candies and Gifts for a seemingly endless supply of ice cream, candy, and chocolate.   

Fall Hiking Guide to Oakhurst

If you loved hiking around Sierra Meadows, consider staying at one of the many resort-style cabins. This tiny village sits on 1,300 acres and offers guests an intimate, yet luxurious cabin experience. It’s great for couples, families, and travelers with furry friends.

The Queens Inn By The River is another great option. Located right near the Fresno River, this charming hotel features a beautiful outdoor deck, a beer garden, and a winery. A few steps away from your room you’ll also find a restaurant — the Idle Hour Winery & Kitchen  — which serves brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Ciara is a travel writer, health & wellness writer, certified wellness & transformative travel coach, and a world traveler who’s visited over 30 countries. Her work has been seen in USA Today, Essence, Travel Noire, and many other publications. When she’s not writing for publications or coaching, Ciara is traveling the world with her amazing husband, eating chocolate chip cookies, and writing for a wellness travel blog she founded, Wellness Travel Diaries. On her blog, you’ll find adrenaline-seeking inspiration, outdoorsy adventures, drool-worthy allergy-friendly eats, and tried and true wellness hacks.

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