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Itineraries A Weekend Guide To Hiking Oakhurst In Winter

A Weekend Guide To Hiking Oakhurst In Winter

Situated amongst the green Sierra Nevada Mountains is the charming city of Oakhurst. Visitors often pass through this town without exploring as their agenda consists of visiting the famed Yosemite National Park. However, this town offers unrivaled mountain views, especially during winter. It’s the biggest town that borders Yosemite and is home to around 13,000 people. With an elevation of 2,274 feet, Yosemite in its back pocket, and a casino down the main highway — Oakhurst has an abundance of hidden gems for any traveler wanting to explore an outdoorsy town with quaint vibes during the winter season.

 

Where to stay...  One of many great places to stay in Oakhurst is at one of the newly built hotels, specifically the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oakhurst. With a Trip Advisor rating of 4.5 stars, this hotel’s aesthetics, amenities, and design won’t disappoint. Expect to see lounge sofas in your brightly colored room, with innovative lighting fixtures, a giant walk-in shower accessible, and a mirror for putting on make-up. Besides the fantastic rooms, there’s a complimentary continental breakfast serving eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, hot cereal, and more. Breakfast is served right next to the lobby and here you’ll also find a snack bar to purchase any items you may need. There’s also a pool outside and a fitness center.

Where to find the best restaurants... One of the best things about dining in a small town is that the city is filled with a multitude of mom-and-pop eateries. You’ll indulge in tasty meals while supporting the local community through sustainable traveling. Oakhurst offers a bunch of choices to fill up those bellies after long adventurous days of exploring the great outdoors. Ranging from vegan foods to smoothie joints, tacos, and breweries for a glass of cold beer; every traveler can find a meal they enjoy. 

Here’s a list of some of the best restaurants in/near Oakhurst, along with the best time to grab a meal from each eatery. 

  • Wild Fig Kitchen (Address: 35300 CA-41, Coarsegold, CA 93614) While it’s technically not located in Oakhurst, this restaurant is only 8 miles away in Coarsegold. Serving up chic and cozy vibes, this family-run business is the hot spot for brunch in town. Brunch runs until around 11 am, but the restaurant is open until 2:30 pm. Spend one morning grabbing homemade apple cake and coffee or devour a generous portion of their pancakes topped with powdered sugar, fresh blueberries, and strawberries. They’re open 8:00 am - 2:30 pm (Wednesday-Saturday) and 9:00 am - 2:30 pm (Sunday).

 

  • Glow Café (Address: 40044 CA-49 b2, Oakhurst, CA 93644)— Opened on Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Glow Café is the go-to spot for smoothies, health juices, sandwiches, acai bowls and avocado toast. It’s best to grab a smoothie first thing in the morning before hiking around Oakhurst, or pop by the juicery for an afternoon protein recovery drink. Highly recommend trying the nutty buddy!


  • South Gate Brewing Company (Address: 40233 Enterprise Dr, Oakhurst, CA 93644 ) This brewing company is a local & regional favorite. From the hand-crafted beers to the food, locals and tourists flock here to get their hands on mouth-watering appetizers and entrees. Expect to see a line at dinner time, especially on weekends. It is really worth the wait, though! As well as traditional American food, this restaurant also has vegan and gluten-free options — think vegan bratwurst, gluten-free burgers, and buns.



  • Judy’s Donuts (Address: 40444 CA-41, Oakhurst, CA 93644) — Let's be honest, whether you say donuts or doughnuts, they’re good any time. Judy’s Donuts is open every day from 5:00 am 2:00 pm and the donuts go quickly, so it's best to grab a donut in the morning before hiking. Enjoy a freshly made apple fritter and the breathtaking view of the mountains on a clear day as you leave the shop.


  • Plazuelas Mexican Restaurant (Address: 40015 Highway 49 St. 203, Suite 203 - 204 Oakhurst CA 93644) — Enjoying some comforting Mexican food is a must anywhere you travel. This family-owned business offers some yummy dishes ranging from flautas, wet burritos, fish tacos, gorditas, and more. Add this to your dinner list for some authentic traditional Mexican food while you dine in a cabin-style eatery with Mexican decor.


Best Winter Hikes in Oakhurst 


Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park (Address: 43469 CA-49, Ahwahnee, CA 93601) Located only 6.7 miles away from Oakhurst is the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park in Ahwahnee. Unlike other hiking trails nearby, these trails are enclosed within a gated regional park spanning over 400 acres. Cross under the giant sign and park anywhere you see fit. Access to the nature park is free, but there are fees for special events. Additionally, all the trails within the park have a relatively easy hiking difficulty and are pretty flat. Take a stroll towards the iconic restored red barn which drastically contrasts against the blue skies or hike towards the lake for scenic views of the meadows with a mountain backdrop. There’s no wrong way to hike this area, just bundle up for the cold weather and wear warm boots/thick socks to keep your feet warm. Other activities to do include bird watching, walking your dog, and horseback riding. Keep in mind, that this regional park is open from Wednesday-Saturday from 8:00 am to sunset. 

Sierra Meadows Hiking Paths (Address: 46513 Opah Dr., Ahwahnee, CA 93611) After exploring Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park you’ll want to stop by its neighboring trails found at the Sierra Meadows Hiking Paths. Previously this area was a 140-acre golf course but it was transformed into Sierra Meadows Hiking Paths. Across the street you’ll find a glamping resort called Sierra Meadows, offering unique cabins and eco-friendly stays. If you’re staying here, grab a complimentary bike to cruise around these beautiful concrete and dirt trails. Otherwise, hike along the Sierra Meadows Hiking Paths to explore the various ponds, giant sculptures, and creeks found throughout the space. Trek up to vista points to admire Deadwood Mountain, or relax in hammocks beneath the trees. Scope out bird species in the area which range from blue herons to snowy egrets and hummingbirds. This is another excellent lodging choice as it’s only 20 miles away from Yosemite National Park, and offers the serenity of the trees. 

Hensley Lake (Address: Buck Ridge Trailhead, Raymond, CA 93653) Another adventure that lies en route to the famed Yosemite National Park is Hensley Lake. Found on County Road 400, this lake is about 30 miles away from Oakhurst (about a 45-minute drive). It’s just outside the town of Raymond and sits at the base of the woodland foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This recreation area is popular for two things — hiking and fishing. The Buck Ridge Trail in particular is a quiet trail that winds along the lake bed. Some paths are quite flat, while others veer off, climbing in evaluation for expansive views of the lake. Other activities here include boating, swimming, and mountain biking. While the levels of the 1,500-acre lake have dropped significantly, the landscape and clouds are gorgeous during the winter. Additionally, the lake is very quiet during the winter. It’s a great day hike for those seeking intimate time with nature and reflection. Also, there is a $10 day-use pass required for every vehicle. 

Eastman Lake (Address: 32175 Rd 29, Raymond, CA 93653) Only a 23-minute drive (17 miles) from Hensley Lake is its sister lake, Eastman Lake. Comprised of rolling hills with vibrant grassland matrices, valleys with blooming wildflowers (i.e. fiddleneck, California poppies), oak woodlands, and lupine shrubs — Eastman Lake is stunning! Operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, this 1,780-acre lake is used for recreation and flood prevention. Some things to do in this area are picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, mountain biking, and hiking. Inside the recreation area, you’ll find two hiking trails: Monument Ridge Trail and Lakeview Trail. Hike along Monument Ridge Trail for an easier hike that winds along the lake for prime photo-ops and fishing spots. For those craving a more adventurous hike, trek along Lakeview Trail which can be unruly in certain spots. Rated at a moderate hiking level, this trail is a personal favorite of mine as it’s an outdoor jungle gym encompassing dirt trails, paved paths, vibrant grassy hills, and giant boulders. Craving more adventure? Try hiking from Raymond Bridge to Eastman Lake. Access to Eastman Lake is free and there are also well-maintained portable restrooms available in the parking lots.


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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