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Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

November 16, 2023

Local Treasures

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Moonlight Special (May through October)


This past August I received a call from my daughter Ashley asking for my thoughts on a family trip up to Sugar Pine Railroad in September for Luke (our son) and his wife Dasha’s birthday, which are both in September. Ashley realized that 9 years had gone by since we last had taken this little excursion and she was excited to start sharing it with her daughter (our granddaughter) Alaia who is two years old. How could I say no to this request? We went ahead and made our reservations and looked forward to revisiting a spot where many memories have been made and now it’s time for some new ones to be made as well!


Linda and I have been taking Ashley and Luke up to the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad now since they were both very little and it’s become a family tradition. They are open from May to October, so I admittedly need to apologize for being so late in getting around to writing this Blog post as they’re now closed for the season.


They have a variety of different excursions and train rides to choose from, but we have always just done their Moonlight Special where you arrive around 5 pm and they BBQ a frontier-style steak dinner with beans, salad, and some other fixings. All the while, they have a group of several folk singers singing some classics. It makes for a nice ambiance while you eat dinner and enjoy your family and the cooler mountain air. It’s always a welcome change from coming up from the hot Central Valley.


Once dinner is finished, you board one of their two Narrow Gauge Trains. On this trip, we were on their Shay #10 Steam Locomotive which was built in 1928 and used by the Pickering Lumber Corporation for logging operations in Tuolumne, CA up until 1967 when it was purchased by The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.


Check out this 1-minute Video Highlight of our Trip:


Once everyone is “all aboard,” the train starts up and meanders on 4 miles of narrow-gauge train track from the old Madera Lumbar Company. The conductor narrates your trip and gives you information on the train, its use in the lumber industry as well as information on the native trees and habitat of the location.  


The train eventually comes to a stop down at Lewis Creek Canyon where they have an amphitheater constructed with a large campfire roaring. Everyone disembarks the train and heads down to sit around the campfire where you are then led in a variety of folk and campfire songs by the band.


For this trip, it was fun to see everything again for the first time through our granddaughter Alaia’s eyes. Being two, she was happy to dance and sing right alongside the singers and unabashedly enjoy herself. It was such a joy to see her having so much fun and enjoying the evening.


As the singing wraps up, you head back to the train for the 4-mile trek back. On this evening, we were treated to an "almost" full moon which lit up the forest. It truly was a Moonlight Cruise.


If you’ve never experienced this magical evening for yourself, put it on your calendar for a 2024 excursion. It is a great way to spend an evening with your family.


Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need any additional information.


All our best,


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