Peach Tree Bar is an old mining camp located on the South Fork of The Merced River.
It is completely inaccessible by road and lies about half way between Hites Cove and the Town of Wawona. I usually get to Peach Tree Bar by taking the Hite’s Cove 4 wheel drive road near the Jerseydale Ranger Station in Mariposa County. I’ll usually go in on a Friday morning and drive as far as Hites Cove where I spend Friday night. Then I’ll take a light pack and hike upstream past Owl Creek and Devil’s Gulch. I can usually reach Peach Tree Bar by noon and then enjoy uninterrupted fishing till nightfall.
Once when hunting bear, I and my compatriots, Jimmy Chapman and Larry Dooley arrived at Peach Tree Bar in the late evening without the benefit of sleeping bags or camping gear. We scrounged around in the wreckage of some of the old collapsed buildings and found a discarded sheet of plastic left by prior visitors. We dug a trench fire pit in a sand bar and when the fire had burned down to coals, we covered them with sand and slept on top with our salvaged chunk of plastic as a blanket. The heat from the buried coals filtered up through the sand and kept us toasty warm all night. Dinner was fresh trout and miner’s lettuce. Although we didn’t get a bear that trip we were mightily pleased with our wilderness survival skills.
The water at Peach Tree Bar is a series of riffles, and pocket water broken by huge pools. The stretch is populated primarily with wild Rainbows and an occasional monster Brown Trout. As usual I use a two fly dropper rig with a black Wooly Worm on the bottom and a Bumble Bee as the top fly. I recommend using a stout leader of at least 6 pound test, since these are unsophisticated wild trout that will slash a fly and snap fragile leaders.
You can stay Saturday nite on your sandbar and fish until about 10:00 am Sunday morning before you need to begin your hike back downstream to Hites Cove & the drive up the canyon wall beck to civilization. For some fascinating history on the area be sure to read “Treasures of The South Fork”, by my friend Ralph Mendershausen. Among other things it tells the story of John Hite and his wife, Indian Lucy, a Miwok who showed him the area. If you are a gold mining buff, be sure to put a gold pan in your pack, because there’s still a lot of gold in the South Fork near Peach Tree Bar. You might also want to keep your eyes open and look for Indian arrowheads and bedrock mortars. Good Luck!
Until Next Week