The name rolls off the tongue quite easily once you know how to say it, but don’t try to sound it out! Tuolumne (as in follow me) is 117 miles southeast of Sacramento. Most people in the county center around the town of Sonora with 4,500 of the total county population of 57,000.
The main highways 108 and 120 lead to incredible natural vistas approximately three-hours drive from the Bay Area. Highway 49 is considered to be the most scenic and direct routes coming from the North and West into the North Yosemite entrance.
The two mountain passes in Tuolumne County, Sonora Pass (9,628-feet) and Tioga Pass (9,941-feet) are the highest in the Sierra Nevada range and are closed from November through May. Tuolumne County’s transit system, TCT, serves the larger communities in Tuolumne County: Sonora, Jamestown, Columbia, Tuolumne, Twain Harte, Sierra Village, and Groveland.
The county is served by 12 public school districts, one main library and 7 branch libraries. Most students (about 1,000) attend Sonora High School, followed by Summerville with about 700 students and Tioga High school with 130 students. There are four private schools in the county with enrollments over 50. Columbia College is located in Tuolumne County and provides access to higher education for 2,700 students. It is located on more than 200 acres of forest land adjacent to Columbia State Historic Park.
The Motherlode Round-up in May features a rodeo and parade bringing people from all around to experience this beautiful County. See the annual events page for more, and the recreation guide for all the activities.
Tuolumne County Communities
Big Oak Flat is an old mining town located adjacent to Groveland. Population estimates often group residents with Groveland but the 2000 U.S. census recorded 149 residents in the Big Oak Flat zip code: 95305.
Chinese Camp is a sleepy village located at the junction of Highway 49 north and Highway 120 west. The population today is about 150 but during the gold rush it is estimated that 5,000 called it home.
Columbia is a Gold Rush town with a population of 2,405 located off Historic Highway 49. You will find the brand new Columbia Elementary School modern restaurants and bistros, and one of two theaters run by the award-winning Sierra Repertory Theater.
Dardanelle is located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. A resting point before the climb to the second-highest pass in the Sierra Nevada range at a lofty elevation of 9,628 feet.
Gold was discovered here in 1849, and thousands of dollars in placer gold were taken from mines on Garotte Creek, Big Creek, and other diggings. Among the buildings remaining from the Gold Rush is the Iron Door Saloon built in 1852, still flourishing and claiming to be the oldest saloon in California!
Jamestown is known for its architecture, including dry-laid stone buildings, one with iron shutters that protected it from fire in the 1850s. There are also Queen Anne style buildings from the latter 19th century, with wooden boardwalks and balconies on the second floor.
Long Barn got its name from a long barn built there in the gold rush days. Miners crossing Sonora Pass between Sonora and Bodie would house their animals in the barn for shelter from the cold winter.
Five minutes east of Twain Harte is a little town called Mi-Wuk Village. The name comes from the natives who lived in the area, it is their word signifying “people.”
A company town, Moccasin is entirely owned by the City and County of San Francisco. Homes are for employees who work for the city or state. There are no stores or even a gas station, the most striking feature of Moccasin is its massive water pipes.
Pinecrest Lake is cradled in what was once a meadow surrounded by granite outcroppings. Emigrants called the area Strawberry Flat because of the wild strawberries that grew there.
Sonora lies in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Foothills, just three miles from Jamestown along HWY 49 and 108. Highway 108 leads east into and across the Sierra Nevada and provides access to many recreation areas. Highway 49 continues north to Angels Camp.
Soulsbyville is located eight miles east of Sonora on the right side of Highway 108. On the left of HWY 108 is the Outpost, and Crystal Falls which are considered part of Sonora. The town is all residential with one local market and a post office.
Standard is located a few miles east of Sonora. It is undefined as a town, blending with Sonora along highway 108 where you turn to head out to Tuolumne. The large Sierra Pacific lumber mill operates in Standard.
There are three towns names Strawberry in California; one in El Dorado County, one in Marin County, and the quite mountain town along highway 108 in Tuolumne County. The population is 674 but many homes in the area are vacation get-aways.
The city of Tuolumne has endured over the years changing its name with the times. It was equally a home to native people, gold miners, loggers and now an expanding casino and lively community events.
Twain Harte is currently one of the fastest growing areas in Tuolumne County. Since the close of World War II when it was summer retreat of a few hundred, the population has grown to 2,586. The Twain Harte golf course, with its banquet hall hosts popular events drawing residents from all over the county. Twain Harte is also a family oriented community with fun activities for all ages.