Three new hiking, biking and nature trails have been built thanks to a cooperative effort from the Rush Creek Recreation team, the Stanislaus National Forest and the Groveland Trail Heads

By Cathy Claesson

Adventure Sports Journal attended a trail opening celebration on October 17th and heard directly from those involved in turning a multi-use trail vision right outside of Yosemite National Park into a reality. Lee Zimmerman, co-owner of Rush Creek Lodge, spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony about the benefits of this trail and what is possible through public and private partnerships.

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about this project, is the speed in which it came to fruition. Zimmerman recounted that they first flagged and talked about the concept of the trails in the spring of 2017 — the trail was approved, built and opened to the public two years later. “This was unthinkable 15 years ago,” said Zimmerman.

Jim Junnette, the Groveland District Ranger for the Stanislaus National Forest Service added, “This is an example of what a concerted effort, where everyone has a mission and a thought process that is all going in the same direction, can accomplish.” He went on to explain that government agencies can be somewhat slow in responding, but when people and businesses are willing to put up the money needed (to make it low or no cost for the government or taxpayers) things are able to move faster.

Rush Creek Lodge

This new trail system is a great example of what can be accomplished through public and private partnerships.

The enthusiasm for this small trail system is the beginning of a larger goal to have the multiuse exterior loop, the Adventure Loop, become part of a mountain bike trail that connects the town of Groveland to Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite.

Dwight Follien of Groveland Trail Heads, the local mountain bike advocacy group, is enthusiastic to see this happen as well. I got to chat with Follien as we walked the trails he helped build, and he shared with me how mountain biking has given back to him on a personal level and it is through this experience that he wants to pay it forward. Read more about Follien here.

dwight on our hike.

ASJ got to catch up with Dwight Follein, of Groveland Trailheads on the hike.

In addition to the economic benefits trails can bring to the community, Follien sees trail building as a great way to engage the local youth. “It is important to get our kids involved in meaningful work.” He says, “By getting youth out there volunteering, local high school students get to see how trails are built and how the different agencies work together to make things happen.”

Follien sees Groveland as an up-and-coming adventure destination, and with his “If you build it, they will come” attitude together with the beautiful accommodations at Rush Creek Lodge, I’m ready to book my next trip.


Rush Creek Lodge's Trio of Trails

Zimmerman at Viewpoint Benches

Co-owner of Rush Creek Lodge, Lee Zimmerman enjoys the view on the benches at the end of the Vista Trail.

The Nature Trail, Vista Trail and Adventure Trail give guests and visitors the opportunity to experience the Stanislaus National Forest with beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

  • The Nature Trail is a 0.5-mile walking trail designed for a more leisurely and picturesque stroll.
  • The Vista Trail is a moderate 1.6-mile hiking trail that offers brilliant views of Stanislaus forest, including a Viewpoint with wooden benches to savor a relaxing moment in nature or a stunning Sierra sunset.
  • The Adventure Trail is a 2.7-mile multi-use trail ideal for mountain bikers as well as hikers looking for slightly more challenging terrain.
  • All trails are considered easy to moderate and include several elevation changes.


Rush Creek Lodge Sign

Rush Creek lodge is a half mile from the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite National Park

Rush Creek Lodge

There is beautiful landscaping on Rush Creek Lodge’s 20 acre resort.

Rush Creek Pool

The pool is in a beautiful alpine setting.

A contemporary mountain lodge, Rush Creek Lodge is the first new lodge to open in the Yosemite National Park area in more than 25 years. Set on twenty woodland acres a half mile from the Highway 120 West entrance to Yosemite National Park, the new lodge is a “destination within a destination.” Rush Creek Lodge is a scenic three-hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area along Highway 120, the most direct route to Yosemite from the Bay Area, offering year-round access to the Park. A sister property to the nearby Evergreen Lodge, Rush Creek Lodge is owned and operated by First Light Hospitality, based in San Francisco and founded by Brian Anderluh and Lee Zimmerman.


Groveland Trailheads

Groveland Trail Heads building trails right outside of Yosemite National Park.

Groveland Trail Heads is a non-profit mountain bike club in Groveland, CA that is dedicated to creating a mountain bike destination in Tuolumne County. This year they will be putting on their third annual Groveland Grind, a fundraiser to help them build more single track. The 2020 event will take place on May 16th. Follow them on Facebook @GrovelandTrailHeads