Railroad Flat Campground

Remember your OUTDOOR ETHICS when enjoying your public lands. Please RECREATE RESPONSIBLY.


At the end of Briceburg River Road and 4.5 miles from the suspension bridge within the BLM, Merced River Recreation Area is the Railroad Flat Campground. Popular with gold prospectors and hikers alike, there is always interesting campfire talk in this campground. It also serves as the trailhead for the BLM, Merced River Trail. The Merced River Trail is a spectacular wildflower walk in spring, has great scenery, fine fishing, and amazing swimming during other times of the year.

Know Before You Go


  • Camping is first come, first served. No reservations available.
  • There are 9 campsites available.
  • Maximum 8 people and two vehicles per site.
  • Quiet Hours: After 10 PM (No loud music, generators, etc.)
  • There is a self-pay system available to pay for sites.
  • A campsite is rented ONLY once it has been paid in full, pay-stub is properly completed and attached to campsite post, and site is occupied by campers (tent up).
  • All sites have a picnic table, grill, and food storage lockers.
  • No potable water available at the campsites. There is potable water available by the information kiosk, across the Briceburg Bridge.


  • Parking Area
  • Restrooms
  • Dumpsters
  • Recycling Cans


Seasonal fire restrictions apply.

  • Fires must be in a metal fire ring.
  • No fires on the beach!


  • There are no lifeguards on duty at the Merced River! Please wear a life jacket.
  • The Merced River is undammed, and the flow changes dramatically.
  • Trailers/RV's over 18 feet are not recommended crossing the suspension bridge.
  • Dogs must be on a leash.
  • No discharging of fireworks or firearms.

Helpful Links:


Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA
Merced River RMA

Adventure is at Your Fingertips


Merced River Trail:

The Merced River Trail follows the old Yosemite Valley Railroad Grade for 28 miles from Bagby, on Highway 49, to El Portal, near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park.  The trail is not maintained for that entire distance.  The BLM manages the lower 18 miles, while the USFS manages the remaining 10 miles closest to El Portal.  This trail is primitive and is constantly subject to rock and mud slides.  It is common for trees to fall across the trail at any time of year.  All side-creek crossings are rough and will require a mountain biker to “carry” across the gulches.  

The BLM does try to maintain two sections of this trail to a more use-friendly standard.  But, even within these two sections, there are rough patches, portages, and re-routes that traverse rock slides etc.  Every season presents new challenges and wash-outs so expect the unexpected.  The maintained sections of the Merced River Trail are from Railroad Flat to the North Fork, and from Briceburg to the Forest boundary.

Merced River Trailhead (Railroad Flat):

From Briceburg, cross the suspension bridge and head downstream on the Briceburg River Road past all three campgrounds and park at the road’s end (4.5 miles).  Do not block gate. 

This trailhead serves hikers, and mountain bikers access to the North Fork Merced and continues downstream to Bagby.  (Equestrian riders will have difficulty passing Halls Gulch which is only 1/8 mile from the trailhead).   This is a very good wildflower viewing trail during spring (February through April).  There is no bridge at the North Fork so expect to get wet if you are heading all the way to Bagby.  The North Fork Merced can get too high to cross during rainy periods in winter and spring.  By summer, the flow is usually modest enough to cross knee high to ankle deep.  Trail condition deteriorates rapidly downstream from the North Fork along the main Merced River Trail.

The main attraction from this trailhead is the North Fork Merced which offers excellent wildflower viewing in spring and great swimming late spring and summer.  The main Merced River has great swimming holes near the confluence with the North Fork.  Backcountry camping is allowed here.  Make sure you have a valid fire permit if camping overnight.  Check fire restrictions before your trip—usually no fires by early summer.

The trail up the North Fork is narrower and steeper than the main Merced River Trail.  Poison oak and rattlesnakes are common here.  The North Fork Trail leads to a beautiful bedrock gorge with a small cascade about ¾ of a mile upstream from the confluence.  The trail deteriorates rapidly after the falls, eventually disappearing in a distance.


Iconograph of a fish head and a fishing hook on a line
Iconograph of two people wearing backpacks and using walking sticks
The letters OHV
Iconograph of a tent


From the city of Merced, located on U.S. Highway 99, travel 40 miles east on State Highway 140 to the town of Mariposa. Then travel another 15 miles along Highway 140 to the Briceburg Visitor Center at the Wild & Scenic Merced River.

There are three developed BLM campgrounds along the Merced River between Briceburg and Bagby. The campgrounds are accessed by crossing the suspension bridge just past the Briceburg Visitor Center and heading down river along Briceburg River Road (old Yosemite Valley Railroad Grade). Trailers over 18 feet and large RV's are not recommended crossing the suspension bridge.


Camping Fee: $10.00 per site, per night

Recreation Pass: $5.00 per site, per night