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Sundrenched, semi-rural and forty minutes from Fresno, Coarsegold, CA sits right on the edge of the Yosemite Valley. As you may have guessed, the small town got its name during the California Gold Rush, and you’ll find many of the original buildings preserved in Coarsegold Village, the historic downtown area. These days, though, Coarsegold is mostly known as a peaceful, family-friendly and tarantula-loving town.
Yes, you did read that last part right -- if you’re scared of spiders, you might want to avoid Coarsegold during the month of October, when the town is scuttling with the tarantulas that emerge from their burrows to find a mate. Coarsegold celebrates this eight-legged love-in with the Tarantula Awareness Festival, an event designed to highlight the importance of our arachnid-American friends to the wider ecosystem. You and your leashed pooch are welcome at many of the outdoor events -- just watch your step!
With no dog park or even community park in town, you might be forgiven for thinking that Coarsegold isn’t the most fur-friendly place. Don’t let that bug you too much, though -- Coarsegold sits right on the edge of some of the most fabulous state parks in the country. And if your furry friend needs to run free, don’t fret -- you’ll find plenty of op-paw-tunities for off-leash adventure just a short drive away!
The dog park at Woodward Park is a pawfect place to let your buddy lose the leash! Located in the quiet, residential Fresno neighborhood of the same name, there’s plenty of room here for even the most rambunctious of fur-balls to blow off a little steam. Woodward Dog Park has three separate areas-- one for bigg’uns, one for littl’uns, and a small section for tearaways that need a bit of a timeout. Bags, water, and toys are provided, so just bring your pup and prepare to play! It’s well worth walking through the people side of the park, too, where you’ll find shaded walking trails with lovely views of the San Joaquin River.
Looking for somewhere to chow down with your pooch? Look no fur-ther than Oakhurst! The area is just a twelve-minute drive from Coarsegold, and it's a pretty pawpular pit-stop for people on the way too and from Yosemite. You and your buddy can call in for a slice of quiche at Cool Bean Cafe, where wagging tails are welcome at outdoor tables. Or, if you're in the mood for a sweet treat, try one of their fresh baked specialty pastries! Afterward, you two can burn it all off with a leashed walk by the gently burbling China Creek in Oakhurst Community Park.
Make no bones about it, the fields of flowers lining the Wawona Meadow Loop are definitely a sight to be seen! (Or, in Fido's case, sniffed!) The route is well-shaded by sequoias and pines, making this path an ideal option for a hot summer day, and in spring, the monkeyflowers, goldenrods, western azaleas, baby blue eyes, and sneezeweed burst forth into a riot of color. As an added bonus, this trail generally sees less traffic than other dog-friendly paths in the park, so it’s an excellent choice for pooches and people seeking a little peace and quiet. It's also considered a moderate trail at just 3.6 miles long.
Yosemite National Park is vast, but many fur-friendly hiking areas are fairly accessible from the Wawona entrance, the closest entry point to Coarsegold. The Lower Yosemite Falls Trail sits right on the edge of Yosemite Valley, and this majestic waterfall is a real mutts-visit! Lower Yosemite Falls is the lower part of North America’s tallest waterfall, and it's said to be so stunning that visitors will occasionally park their cars in the middle of the road just to gaze at it. Like the Mirror Lake Trail, this one is paved and wide enough to accommodate even a stroller, and it’s only a mile long.
Let’s get this out of the way -- Coarsegold is right on the edge of Yosemite National Park. And with an opportunity to take what could be a trip of a lifetime right on your doorstep, you’d be barking mad not to go! Of course, some of the trails are off-limits to furry hikers due to wildlife, so it’s best to look up a map before you go. The Mirror Lake Trail is leashed-doggo-friendly though -- not only that, but it’s paved and relatively flat, making it pretty accessible to all ages and abilities. You two can hike the whole five miles up to the lake and take in the fabulous views of Terra Canyon, or simply enjoy spotting animals along the tree-shaded route.
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