Future travel; plan now to explore the nearby Gold Rush Highway…

The nearby Gold Rush Highway offers rich history, scenery!

We have mainly been sheltering in place for the last couple of months, hiking trails near our home, traveling to places of interest in the city and county, not much more. We were about to drive up into the foothills and check a few old favorites on the Gold Rush trail, Highway 49, when I realized that the pandemic has ratcheted up in the San Joaquin County region, putting this region into the highest risk COVID-19 category, and bringing the order to “stay at home“.

A Zoom phone call last night with my National Ski Patrol unit included three doctors, who noted the extreme threat brought by rapidly declining hospital ICU space due to the pandemic and the need for the highest Covid19 prevention strategy. With hospitals jammed and ICU space limited or totally taken, not only are those who suffer from the Covid19 virus at risk, but so, too, would you be if seeking emergency care for an accident or medical episode.

The lovely Mokelumne River separates Mokelumne Hill and Jackson, CA.

Hence, I’ll give you a few highlights of the trip we decided not to make, and encourage you to use the next holiday weeks mostly staying put and planning your future travels. With vaccines coming within days, and hopefully reaching much of the community within the next two-four  months, plan now to research your travels and book those extended trips for later in the new year.

Once again, I invite you to share some of your favorites destinations that other readers might profit from, be they local, state-wide or in nearby states. In the final weeks of 2020, I’ll be doing a review of the top travel destinations.

Please share your most favorite destinations in any of those three areas, by submitting 50 to 70 words (and a good quality digital scenic photo, if you have one) of why this destination is your favorite. I will use your submissions in those future articles to appear the weeks of Christmas, New Year’s and the following Tuesday, or in my Record travel blog.

The historic Butte Store is on Highway 49 as you head south from Jackson.

To get you thinking, and for future trip planning, a favorite day-trip is Highway 49, the California Gold Rush Highway, linking gold discovery site Coloma to a host of quaint and historic towns along the highway. Today, a short profile on the towns of Jackson and Mokelumne Hill, just miles apart, separated by the scenic Mokelumne River.

To get there from Stockton, take Highway 26 east to Valley Springs, then go north on Paloma Road to Watertown Road and turn onto Pardee Dam Road, directing you across Pardee Dam, with stunning views of the lake and past a wonderful EBMUD campground (if you are into camping and/or fishing, make a note to return).  Continue on Stony Creek Road, up a beautiful valley and right to the south edge of Jackson.

In the spring, you’ll find gorgeous wildflower blooms above the Mokelumne River.

Jackson is county seat and a vibrant old and new town.  Check out old Main Street, deep in Sierra gold history for a variety of cute shops, and stop at the National Hotel at the south end of Main.  Built in 1852 and visited by many noteworthy guests over its history, this Gold Rush Hotel was extensively renovated a few years ago; with a lively restaurant/bar in the hotel’s lower level.  Once refreshed, visit the old Kennedy Mine and the historic Kennedy Mine Tailing Wheel #4, for a short dose of early mining history.  And, if you like the casino scene, the Jackson Rancheria Casino is a big part of “new Jackson”. 

Continue south on 49 to the quaint town of Mokelumne Hill, passing the old Butte Store, circa 1856.  Cross the Mokelumne River on the way to “Mokey Hill”; just across the bridge is a lovely waterfront park where you can get an up-close view of the river.  At the top of the hill is the old town, with a variety of well-preserved Gold Rush buildings.  Check out the Leger Hotel; a portion of the building served as Calaveras County Courthouse from 1852 to 1866.  When the courthouse was moved to San Andreas, George Leger made it part of his hotel; and when fire damaged the building it was restored in 1879 and renamed the Leger Hotel.  Take the time to walk the four blocks of old Mokey Hill and you will feel the ghosts of Gold Rush days!

The historic Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hill.

Yes, that’s more than 70 words, but you get the idea; submit your suggestions, 50 to 70 words and a photo if you have one to:  tviall@msn.com. I’ll feature some of the best suggestions in my Record articles, and many of the balance in my Record blog. Here are deadlines:

San Joaquin County or nearby destinations, send by December 16,

California favorites, December 23,

Nearby western states, December 28.

We’ll publish these submissions in articles to appear the Tuesdays of Christmas week, New Year’s and the following Tuesday, January 5.

Our advice; for the holidays, stay close to home, tour local attractions and the wonderful world outside your front door. Keep holiday family gatherings to immediate family (for more distant, use Zoom or Facebook Messenger), talk up travel and plan your destinations for 2021! In the meantime, stick to day-trips where you can travel by auto or walk, hike or bike in our incredible outdoors. Practice pandemic precautions, await coming vaccines and plan for the future.

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com, follow him at recordnet.com/travelblogStay, and travel, safe!

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