A nice hike--about 4.5 miles in each direction, along the South Fork of the Merced River. The trail starts where the South Fork meets the Merced coming out of Yosemite, and the flowers in the spring along this trail can be stunning.
Here's a short report from the trip logs section of our website:
Hite Cove, Sierra National Forest (Highway 140 near Yosemite) This one is good just about any time the weather is nice, because the elevation is only about 1800 feet, and there are no prolonged climbs anywhere on the trail.
You leave from the trailhead at Savage's Trading Post off Highway 140, between Mariposa and Yosemite, and then follow the South Fork of the Merced River about 4.5 miles into an old mining camp on the river.
The only steep part is right where you start the trail, althrough there are some tricky sections where you realize how good the trails are in the rest of California. There are some nice views up and down the river, and during fishing season this must be even more fun.
But the real spectacle comes during the wildflower season, when some of the early slopes of the hike are simply covered with poppies and other flowers.
This trail will get a lot of traffic on the wildflower weekends, but we hiked it on a Friday in March, and saw about ten people as we hiked in--and they were all on their way out. We had the campsite and old mining equipment to ourselves for the evening. And on the way out, we saw crowds heading up the trail...but by that time we were on our way home...and into Yosemite for a little sight-seeing in the spring.
If if you have to get into the Sierra during the winter, this might be your best bet! 9 miles rt.
lots of photos on our website at backpackthesierra.com