Our Mountain Town

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Introduction & Overview

Our Mountain Town - Groveland Entrance

Our Mountain Town - Mountain and Trees View

South of the majestic Tuolumne River Canyon, west of the incredible Yosemite Valley–that’s where the 49er gold miners found dazzling wealth by the pan-full and where today’s adventurers still find wide open foothills and forests, and superb outdoor recreation. Two-thirds of Tuolumne County’s 2000 square miles are publicly owned. Stanislaus National Forest logging trails wind hundreds of miles through tall pines and meadows, perfect for mountain biking or hiking. Highway 120 is open year-round to Yosemite National Park and into the valley. Tioga Pass over the Sierra to Highway 395 is closed in winter.

At an elevation of 2800 feet, Groveland and Pine Mountain Lake are above the fog and smog but below the snow and cold. Sun shines about 330 days a year in this dry climate. Daytime temperatures average around 54 degrees in winter, 86 degrees in summer, and in the 70’s in spring and fall. Cool off in summer by swimming in the lake or swimming pool. Or slide down water washed rocks into a natural swimming hole and sit on the bank of a splashing stream. To feel like you are going back into spring time, you can quickly reach the high country. Dip your fishing line in a deep shaded pool or pristine alpine lake. Amble under the giant redwood trees at the Crane Flat Tuolumne grove, 6000 foot elevation.

Our Mountain Town - Albino Deer

Here you can relax into a slower pace…where the moon seems closer, the stars are brighter, and pressures less important. The air is crisp and fragrant with cedar and pine. Wildlife are abundant, and you’ll be treated to daily encounters with jack rabbits, possums, foxes, raccoons, great blue herons, woodpeckers, squirrels, and especially deer. Drift to sleep with just the sound of an owl hooting its whereabouts to its mate.

Tuolumne County has a nickname: THE GREAT UNFENCED, which particularly applies to Pine Mountain Lake. No fences are built on lot lines. Building restrictions focus on exterior paint colors and control of tree cutting. You can’t park cars in the street, but you can park boats and motor homes on your property.

Pine Mountain Lake was built in 1970 as a planned development with gated security and common areas managed by the Homeowner’s Association. All of the over 3000 homes were custom built by individual contractors and vacant lots are still available in all price ranges. Every lot has 24 hour security, paved roads, piped water, power, and cable television.

The area attracts vacationers and retirees primarily, but many families are moving here for the small town quality and excellent schools. Caring teachers and parent volunteers make Tenaya Preschool and Elementary School, and Tioga High a lot like private schools. For higher education there’s Columbia Junior College, and in Merced, a new University of California.

The area’s history has been preserved at two State Historic Parks: Railtown 1897 in Jamestown, and Columbia State Park, preserved as a Gold Rush era town; and in the heart of downtowns like Groveland. The Iron Door Saloon and Groveland Hotel are two surviving buildings from the original gold rush. While mining evolved here from panning to hydraulic hoses to hard rock tunnels, cowboys ranged the hills and loggers harvested timber; dams were built for thirsty cities and John Muir brought the world’s attention to Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy Valleys. He wrote: “The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” Here you’ll find a warm community where people take the time to meet new friends and help each other out.

What roads are accessible in winter?

Highway 120 to the Yosemite West park entrance is called the Big Oak Flat Road. It is kept open by snow plows year-round. Travelers coming to Yosemite during late fall, winter and early spring should carry tire chains in their cars, as they may become mandatory on Yosemite Park roads at any time. The Tioga Road (Highway 120 to Tuolumne Meadows and Hwy 395) is closed by snow each winter from about early November to late May. Predicting when the road will open is not possible, because weather in April and May can affect plowing progress. Plowing of the Tioga Road begins on or about April 15 each year and usually takes 1-2 months.

The Glacier Point Road (East off Highway 41) is plowed during the winter to the Badger Pass Ski Area.

Who lives there? What jobs and schools are there?

Our Mountain Town - Who Lives There?

PML is a mix of retirees, vacation home owners, and people who both live and work in the area. A few people commute to jobs in Sonora, Oakdale, Modesto, Stockton or even further away, but we are too remote to be a “bedroom community”. The local Kindergarten to 8th grade school, Tenaya, received the California Distinguished School award in 1987. Tenaya has about 275 students. Tioga High School, with about 130 students, received the California Distinguished School award in 2005. Students also carpool to Sonora High School, with about 1400 enrolled there. Tenaya Parent Pre-School is for children 3 to 5 years old. Governmental employers include the Forest Service, National Park, CalTrans, CalFire, Tuolumne County and Sierra Conservation Center (prison west of Jamestown). Tourism, logging, construction, real estate, and a myriad of service businesses provide employment. A lot of self-employed people live in Groveland! Home grown businesses include Zoo-phonics (teaching aids), AMDEV Communications (voice mail providers), ARTA River Trips (rafting), Contact the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce at (800) 449-9120 or visit their website www.groveland.org for a list of members, and look at our Business Directory.

Where can I stay when I visit?

Our Mountain Town  - Groveland Hotel

To rent a furnished house for two days or more in PML, contact RE/MAX Yosemite Gold Vacations at the toll free phone number 1 (877) 962-7180 or (209) 962-7180. To view the list of houses, rates, and amenities visit our vacation rental website. For one night stays and hotel or bed and breakfast amenities, see the many choices available at the Yosemite Chamber of Commerce website. For lodging in north Tuolumne County (Sonora, Jamestown, Columbia, Twain Harte etc.) go to the Visitor’s Bureau website.

Where do we shop in Groveland?

Our Mountain Town - Downtown House

For groceries MarVal Market has the basics. Most “locals” make trips down the hill to Sonora to stock up at Safeway, Savemart, Cost U Less, Grocery Outlet, and other big supermarkets. Sonora is about 26 miles away, and it takes about 35 minutes to get there if you use the “shortcut” of Old Priest Grade. If you drive on Highway 120 all the way, it is longer and you need to add about ten minutes to your driving time. Take an ice chest!
Groveland has a pharmacy called the Groveland Pharmacy that also carries greeting cards, rental videos & DVD’s, gifts, batteries, and other drugstore stuff.

Sonora has Ross, Kohl’s, WalMart, a new Lowe’s, Andy’s True Value Hardware and Orchard Supply, and specialty stores downtown.
For hardware and building materials, there’s Down to Earth in Big Oak Flat, 2 miles west of Groveland on Highway 120.

What professional services are available in Groveland?

We have three dentists, one chiropractor, two doctors at the Groveland Family Medical Clinic, and an optometrist. Tuolumne County operates a rehabilitation center. Two banks have branches here: Yosemite Bank and RaboBank. We have two appraisal services, two accountants, two attorneys, and an insurance office.

Where can I see some of the history of the area?

Columbia’s State Historic Park is the best preserved Gold Rush town in California…a place where you experience California history with all your senses. Hear the clang of hammer and anvil at the blacksmith’s shop. The strum of banjo from the wooden boardwalk. The clatter of a stagecoach down main street. Smell new candles and soap at the candle shop, handmade chocolate and licorice at the candy kitchen, fresh wood shavings at the carpentry shop. Try your hand panning for gold. Sample a cold sarsaparilla at an 1850’s saloon. Take in an afternoon melodrama or a full-stage production at the restored Fallon House Theater.

Our Mountain Town - Museum

Railtown 1897 The Gold Country hit its second heyday in the late 1800’s with the romantic era of steam trains and resulting boom times for the lumber, hard rock mining and cattle industries. The railroad was also used in constructing the dams that created Lake Tulloch and Don Pedro Reservoir. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown brings this era to life. It was originally the headquarters of the Sierra Railway, a short line that still serves the area. Today, this once-common type of facility has the only surviving original roundhouse west of the Mississippi. In 1982 the facility and its antique trains were purchased by the State as a park and is part of the State Railroad Museum. Its depot store, interpretive center, roundhouse and grounds are open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm year-round. Visitors can climb aboard an authentic steam train for a ride over part of the historic tracks weekends April through October and Saturdays in November. The Sierra Railroad has been featured in more than 200 movies, television shows and commercials since 1919. You have seen the trains and track in productions like High Noon, Petticoat Junction, Little House on the Prairie, Back to the Future III and Unforgiven

Is it hard to get a building permit?

Our Mountain Town - Flat

Compared to most counties in California, it is fairly simple. Tuolumne County has permit fees for septic systems, well drilling, modular home installation and on-site frame building. Some lots in PML are within the airport Land Use Commission review area and must be approved at their monthly meetings. Your building contractor usually takes care of all permit submittals. For more information contact Tuolumne County Community Development Department (Planning, Building, Roads, Surveyor, House Numbering) at (209) 533-5633 or the Environmental Health Department (septic and wells) at 533-5990.

Are there publications that can be sent to me?

Tuolumne County Recreation Guide, Tuolumne County Visitor’s Bureau Visitor’s Guide, Sierra Seasons magazine, Vine Times magazine, Pine Mountain Lake Activities Guide, Yosemite Guide, Weekender newspaper guide to activities and places to go (weekly), Know-It-All guide to services in Tuolumne County, map of Tuolumne County.