Red Hills Recreation Management Area

Quick Facts

Red Hills Recreation Management Area

California

(916) 941-3101

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Red Hills Management Area represents a unique blend of cultural and natural history. It consists of 7,100 acres (slightly more than 11 square miles) of public land located near the intersection of State Highways 49 and 120, just south of the historic town of Chinese Camp in Tuolumne County.

In 1848 the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the war with Mexico, making this land that of the American public. Prior to the Gold Rush of 1849, the Management Area was probably lightly populated by the Central Sierran Miwok people. There are several grinding rocks near one of the intermittent streams, but no occupation sites have been found. The first Chinese miners arrived in the vicinity during 1849. Most of their activity was centered on the town of Chinese Camp to the immediate north of the Red Hills. A large fight between two feuding Chinese factions occurred in 1856, supposedly just to the south of the Red Hills in the vicinity of the historic Crimea House. Naturally, the vegetation of the Red Hills is unique. The assemblage of plant species found there, including 7 rare plants, occurs nowhere else in the world. In the early spring the seemingly barren hills turn yellow, white, lavender and pink, with a spectacular wildflower display. Recreational opportunities such as hiking, historical touring, bicycling, limited hunting, horseback riding, nature study and seasonal wildflower viewing can be enjoyed there.

Map of Red Hills Rec. Management Area

Latitude, Longitude: 37.869569, -120.433502

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    The trail system with various loops, total of about 17.3 miles.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    there is limited opportunities for automobile touring.

  • Hiking

    The trail system with various loops, total of about 17.3 miles.

  • Historic Sites

    Prior to the Gold Rush of 1849, the Management Area was probably lightly populated by the Central Sierran Miwok people. There are several grinding rocks near one of the intermittent streams, but no occupation sites have been found. This is in contrast to nearby areas where several occupation sites have been recorded. The Red Hills were probably not heavily used by the Miwok people because of the scarcity of game and the lack of acorns. It is possible that the Miwok people may have utilized the riparian areas along Six Bit Gulch; however, any trace of that use was likely wiped out years ago by placer mining activities, as were so many other sites in the Mother Lode region. Some evidence of Chinese habitation has been found at a few scattered sites. The first Chinese miners arrived in the vicinity during 1849. Most of their activity was centered on the town of Chinese Camp to the immediate north of the Red Hills. A large fight between two feuding Chinese factions occurred in 1856, supposedly just to the south of the Red Hills in the vicinity of the historic Crimea House.

    Red Hills Road, which bisects the study area, dates back to 1849 when it was a major route between Central Valley locations and the southern mining camps. The Crimea House, an inn which was located just to the south of the public land, provided lodging and food to early travelers. The Crimea House itself was destroyed in a fire in 1949. The site is marked by a plaque erected by the Fraternal Order of E Clampus Vitus.

    An abandoned railroad grade is located in the northwestern portion of the Red Hills. It was part of the old Sierra Railroad, constructed during the 1890s, to carry freight between the main railroad lines in the central valley and the mining communities of the Mother Lode region.

  • Horseback Riding

    The trail system with various loops, total of about 17.3 miles.

  • Hunting

    Limited hunting is available. Target shooting is prohibited.

  • Wildlife Watching

    In the Red Hills buckbrush and other shrubs provide browse and seeds for small populations of mammals, including mule deer, jackrabbits and rodents. Coyotes, bobcats and fox can also be found in the Red Hills.

    Eighty-eight bird species have been observed in the Red Hills. Some common species include mourning dove, acorn woodpecker, ash-throated flycatcher, scrub jay, wrentit, plain titmouse, bushtit, Bewick's wren, and house finch. Valley quail and mourning doves are the major game birds in the Red Hills. An abundant insect population supports insectivorous birds including western kingbirds, ash- throated flycatcher, tree swallows, barn swallows, black phoebes, and others. Raptors include the red-tailed hawk, Cooper's hawk, prairie falcon, and great horned owl. Fish-eating birds seen in the Red Hills include the belted kingfisher and great blue heron. Roadrunners can also be found.

Directions

Driving

From Sonora, take State Highway 49 south 15 miles to Chinese Camp, then drive south on Red Hills Road for 1/2 mile.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(916) 941-3101

Links