A night spent at the Woolman A-Frames is a step back in time. If you’ve ever experienced summer camp as a child, or even found the idea close to your heart, a trip to the Sierra Friend’s Center will let you relive your childhood memories, and create more with other fun grownups.
The center itself dates back to the 1960’s where it began as a boarding school, and then eventually continued as a summer camp until very recently.
When you first arrive, signage will point you to an administrative building. Our host Laura was there waiting for us and took us on a tour.
The grounds are dispersed. When we visited everything was covered in fresh spring grass. There are many gigantic oak trees, and we kept pointing out our new favorites.
Behind the administrative building is lots of open space, where you will eventually come upon a soccer field, volleyball net, and kids playground.
On the other side of the grounds is a dining hall, a Quaker’s meeting hall, and a kiln and ceramics studio. Laura mentioned that with enough advance notice, it would be possible to use the kiln.
Finally for the main attraction, the 12 A-frames. They’re dispersed on the far edge of the property. Each one has a bit of it’s own character reflective of their past inhabitants…nothing that would keep you from choosing one over the other, but you truly feel like you’re the next camper behind whoever doodled a pink heart by the door, or propped up a plastic bird on the front porch.
The A-Frames themselves are simple: No more than 2 twin beds on opposing sides, separated by a wood stove in between. There are shelves built into the walls and 2 desks on either sides of the front door.
Laying in my bed with the blazing fire by my side was relaxing on a chilly February night. I watched the flames peek through the vent on the stove door and dance around the ceiling as a I drifted off to sleep. Everything was completely quiet except for the roar of the fire. I could glimpse the sliver of moonlight from the 2 slender windows above the front door.
The location itself has hiking trails to explore, and Laura said you can hike to the Yuba River from camp. Our favorite part was that our dogs were welcome, on leash on campus and free to room with us in the A-frame.
There are not bathrooms in the A-frames, but there is a large bath house with flush toilets and a hot shower a short walk away.
At this time there is no kitchen. They have plans to eventually build an outdoor kitchen.
Beyond the A-frames and past staff housing is another group of eight cabins. These cabins house 6 people each and also have an outdoor bathhouse.
We enjoyed our stay at the Sierra Friend’s Center so much! If being in nature with your dogs is what you like to do, this is the place! Add a good nights sleep with a roof over your head and you have a great weekend planned!
The Refuge is a peaceful and beautiful spot to savor a meal, rest from a fun day of rock climbing or exploring, and lay your head.
When we arrived, the host Erin greeted us with warm hugs and genuine enthusiasm to meet us. She excitedly told us all about The Refuge. Together with her husband, they have big plans for their special space. Currently there is a well-stocked outdoor kitchen, composting toilets, bathroom sink, tent camping, and RV/campervan camping.
The kitchen has any and everything you could ask for. You don't need to pack pots/pans, utensils, plates, or even salt and pepper. There's a gas stove and large kitchen sink. It's bright and open, with a wrap around counter for prepping food and hanging out with friends as you make dinner. As Erin and Jakob mention in their description, they are "operating on the belief that the moment has arrived for humanity to shift into a new paradigm." I couldn't agree more, and they are putting their words into action by encouraging us all to leave plastic products behind, organic farming, composting, and hosting community events.
On the back side of the outdoor kitchen building are two shower stalls in the works! They aren't yet completed, but when they are they will be solar heated! A hot shower is always such a treat when camping!
Down a gentle slope from the kitchen there's a couple of tables to enjoy your meals under a big oak tree. And nearby there is a perfectly clean (and odor-less!) bathroom with 2 composting toilets and a a sink.
You can pitch your tent anywhere you like under another nearby oak tree. There you are nestled against the oak and a little grove of eucalyptus. It's a very peaceful spot.
The RV/Campervan parking is behind the kitchen and a simple, but flat spot to park.
The Refuge is lovely on it's own, but it also has a lot going for it in terms of location! It's about an hour from Yosemite National Park gates. However closer there's Table Mountain which is a hike with amazing views, and popular among climbers. There's also Columbia State Park which is a historic gold mining town. Big Trees state park (giant sequoias) is another hour (opposite direction of Yosemite). The small town of Jamestown is just 5 minutes away and has a big gas station and Frosty (which is super convenient but you won't feel like your close to town at all The Refuge!) And Sonora (which has big grocery stores) is just 15 minutes away!
This is a wonderful place to spend a few restful evenings! Erin's joy overflows to her campers and I'm so excited for her (and her husband) and the positive things they're doing with their space and community.
Aimee and her family are delightful hosts and our time at The Bluff and Curtis Creek was easy and peaceful.
The drive in follows a country road among rolling hills and plentiful oaks. Once to the entrance to the camp, campers should know that the gravel road is steep and is a little difficult to get moving again. The hosts say they have plans to improve it in the future.
Past the hosts home, and then past the water tanks, there's a downhill slope that goes under the "hangman" that brings you to the common area and the tent camping site. There's lots of signage in case you're wondering if you're in the right spot. If you're in a big rig or a high top camper van like we were, you'll need to stop a few yards from the tent camping parking. There's a sign for full size rigs parking, but it does add a bit of distance to your setting up.
Before you get to the tent camping site, the first thing you'll see is the large "common area" trailer. The hosts plans to renovate further and make it a kitchen for campers to use. It also has the wifi.
Beyond the common area trailer is the the short trail that leads to The Bluff, which is the best view in the place and also, the tent camping site. At the beginning of the trail is the main fire pit, picnic table, and hammock. It's worth mentioning that the main fire pit is not at the tent site, although it's nearby. We asked permission and were able to use the much more scenic fire pit on The Bluff and right next to the tent site.
Once at the tent site there's a large picnic table, a mini shed, and a fillable water cooler. We set up and got right to exploring the swimming holes.
We went to the The Little Pools first, an easy walk down a few steps. It's winter now, so we didn't swim, but it looks amazing. Second we went to the Big Pool, which is a bit steeper walk without any steps. Another good spot we can't wait to take advantage of in the summer.
Back at our site we whipped up some campfire chili and we're able to watch it simmer on the The Bluff fire pit while the sun set and delighted us with some beautiful colors.
In my opinion, the highlight of this spot is surely The Bluff view and fire combo. It's such a beautiful lookout that requires no effort to get to. In the summer, I'm sure this might change to private swimming hole however!
This is a great spot with wonderful hosts and I can't wait to stay again!
This was such a peaceful getaway. Even the drive in was beautiful! Once arriving you drive through all the rescue horses and you already feel like you're in a special place. Once there, you can make full use of the sheltered kitchen, stocked with utensils, plates, spices, and left over goodies from past campers. There is a fire pit with windshield. The RV was super clean and very comfortable, had electricity and running water.