Tuolumne Trails was conceived in 2002 when its founders, Jerry and Paula Baker, started looking for ways to give back. After enjoying a successful career in the semiconductor industry, they felt it was time to move into the world of philanthropy. Many years before, the seed of supporting children with special needs was planted when their youngest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While all turned out well, the traumatic experience of caring for a seriously ill child gave them a perspective that would affect the rest of their lives.
After retiring to the beautiful Sierra foothills, the concept of an accommodating and fully-accessible camp, purpose-built for individuals with special medical needs was born. In 2003 , after an exhaustive search, the current property was acquired. Other camps were benchmarked, plans were drawn, studies completed, permits acquired and finally, in October 2005, ground was broken for Camp Tuolumne Trails. Construction of the extensive infrastructure, Great Hall, swimming pool, and the cabins for campers and staff was finally underway.
We are not the first to take up residence here. During the Depression, a father and two sons traded their home in San Jose for the “ranch.” It then consisted of 160 acres, a barn and a one-room house with a dirt floor. They raised livestock (mostly hogs), grew hay, and largely lived off the land. Earlier, during the Gold Rush, this location was the site of placer mining. Stymied by the lack of surface water for mining operations, the 49ers dug a ditch several miles long to draw water from the Golden Rock flume. For many centuries before that, Native Americans found this a desirable place to live. As part of the archaeological study performed during the development of Tuolumne Trails, artifacts were found that indicate occupation from as early as 7000 BC. In June of 2008 Camp Tuolumne Trails welcomed its first campers, perhaps the best use of the land ever.
Eight years later, we continue our quest to be the most accommodating facility in the state. We have expanded from our initial focus on special needs children to include their families, returning veterans, and adults with disabilities. We have added amenities and services to enrich the experience of our campers. We hope you will join us in making new history at this special place.