South Fork Merced River

 

New Article - Sierra Wild Trout

American Angler MagazineLook for my feature article - Secrets of the Sierras 4 Classic Walk-In Trips appearingin the current May/June issue of American Angler.

You'll learn more about the wild trout fisheries of the South Fork of the Merced River.

 

Directions

From Fresno From Fresno, take Highway 41 North. It's roughly 65 miles until you reach the historic town of Wawona located in Yosemite National Park. Access to the South Fork Merced River will be apparent along Highway 41 for a couple of miles or from the Wawona Campground.

 

The South Fork Merced River

From its origin in the alpine snows of the Clark Range, the South Fork of the Merced River follows a rugged forty-one mile route through steep and narrow canyons until joining the main Merced River at Savage's Trading Post. Its descent slightly moderated by the broad Wawona Valley.

California poppies along the Hite Cove trail on the South Fork Merced River

Some thirty miles down from its headwaters, the South Fork bends west and cuts through the contact zone between the granite rocks of the high Sierra and metasedimentary rock of the Sierra foothills. This zone produces the goldfields, lupines, and poppies from late winter through spring that stretch for miles along the north size of this wild river.

Wild and Scenic

In 1987, grassroots efforts led by the Merced Canyon Committee resulted in a large portion of the Merced (including the South Fork) just beyond the Yosemite Park boundary being added to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The South Fork of the Merced River supports an abundant community of aquatic life including significant hatches of stoneflies and caddisflies.

Salamanders are common on the South Fork Merced River

Trout Species

The South Fork of the Merced is primarily a rainbow trout fishery in its upper reaches around Wawona (Wawona - is a small, historic town in the southern end of Yosemite National Park).

Wild and Scenic section on the South Fork Merced River

That said, the river holds a good number of brown trout. These browns can be found in some of the larger pools in the lower canyon before the South Fork flows into the main Merced.

The Botanical South Fork Merced

Wildflowers peak in the Spring along the Merced River More than one thousand species of plants are known to grow within the confines of the South Fork's canyons. In addition to its prolific wildflowers, the South Fork Merced contains several rare and endemic plants. These include the Yosemite onion, Congdon's wooly sunflower, and Congdon's Lewisia.