Three per­fect pic­nic spots in the Sierra Ne­vada foothills

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Panorama: Weekender - By Jackie Bur­rell

There’s some­thing ir­re­sistible about au­tumn pic­nics. Sum­mer’s heat has waned and the crisp air makes us long for al fresco feasts — per­haps with a Ther­mos of some­thing warm and hearty to ac­com­pany those sand­wiches, cider and sides.

The foothills of Cal­i­for­nia’s Gold Coun­try are dot­ted with beau­ti­ful pic­nic spots. Here are just a few of our fa­vorites.

Hetch Hetchy Val­ley, Yosemite

At 3,900 feet, the Hetch Hetchy Val­ley en­joys some of the mildest weather and long­est hik­ing sea­son in the park. Tuck a sand­wich in your day pack to en­joy on your hike, or grab a perch at one of the pic­nic ta­bles closer to the dam or park­ing lot. Ei­ther way, grab that sand­wich in Grov­e­land, where Kevin and Randi’s Old-Fash­ioned Meat Mar­ket makes veg­gie wraps and sand­wiches ($8) to or­der. The Corned Beef Molly is es­pe­cially pop­u­lar.

De­tails: Pur­chase a pass to en­ter the park ($30 per car) at Yosemite’s Big Oak Flat en­trance or — even more con­ve­nient, if you’re there be­tween May and Oc­to­ber — at Grov­e­land’s Vis­i­tor Cen­ter, which is in the same shop­ping cen­ter as the deli. Find Kevin and Randi’s at 18687 Main St., Grov­e­land.

Columbia State His­toric Park, Columbia

Pic­nic ta­bles are tucked among the trees and mead­ows of this won­der­fully pre­served Gold Rush Town, be­hind the Fal­lon The­atre, near the City Ho­tel, by the Columbia En­gine Com­pany No. 1 fire­house and oh-so-con­ve­niently near Columbia Kate’s Bak­ery. So pack up that check­ered table­cloth and plan to pick up pic­nic fare when you ar­rive in town. The bak­ery of­fers quiche, pot pies and Run­sas, hot pocket sand­wiches whose fill­ings vary from ground beef and swiss to a break­fasty egg, ba­con and cheese. Brown’s Cof­fee House sells sar­sa­par­illa as well as lemon­ade, espresso drinks and ice cream on Main Street.

De­tails: Columbia Kate’s Bak­ery is open daily at 11256 State St., Columbia. Find Brown’s Cof­fee House at 22760 Main St.; www.vis­it­columbi­a­cal­i­for­nia.com.

Indigeny Re­serve, Sonora

The views alone would make this a per­fect pic­nic des­ti­na­tion: 160 acres of ap­ple or­chards, rolling hills and scenic vis­tas. That you can nip in­side Indigeny Re­serve’s tast­ing room to buy chilled hard cider and non-al­co­holic sips to ac­com­pany your pic­nic just makes it all the bet­ter. Stop off first in Sonora’s his­toric down­town to pick up pulled pork sand­wiches ($9.75) at the Light­house Deli — or, if you’re feel­ing spon­ta­neous — head for Indigeny di­rectly. The cider­house gift shop sells crack­ers and salami and cheese packs and, if you skipped the whole pic­nic bas­ket thing en­tirely, small sets of pa­per plates and nap­kins.

De­tails: Indigeny Re­serve is open daily at 14679 Sum­mers Lane on the out­skirts of Sonora. The Light­house Deli is open Mon­day-Satur­day at 28 S. Wash­ing­ton St., www.the­light­housedeli.com.

ARIC CRABB/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

Build­ings line Main Street at Columbia State His­toric Park in Fe­bru­ary.

JACKIE BUR­RELL/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP

Columbia Kate’s Tea­house and Cafe now has a bak­ery out­post across the street in Columbia.

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