With the closure of the Generals highway in Sequoia National Park for the summer of 2023, access to some of the worlds largest trees will be limited to summer travelers. Turning your attention North, to Yosemite and Calaveras big tree state park, might be the perfect vacation alternative is you are seeking the biggest trees on earth.
Yosemite National Park is home to three groves of impressive ancient giant sequoias. Giant sequoias are an iconic species, being among the rarest, oldest and largest living organisms in the world.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
Visitors can access the Mariposa Grove via shuttle service from the new parking lot just past the south entrance off Highway 41/Wawona Road. A large restoration project was recently completed at the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias by the National Park Service and Yosemite Conservancy.
Highlights of the Restoration:
- Restoring giant sequoia and associated wetland habitat
- Constructing a transit hub at South Entrance which will allow for the relocation of the current parking area from Mariposa Grove
- Adding a shuttle service between the South Entrance and lower Grove area during peak use periods
- Building accessible trails to allow for improved access without impacting the sequoia trees and other sensitive areas
- Restoring natural hydrology
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Trails
Big Trees Loop Trail (Easy)
0.3 mile (0.5 km) round trip – 30 – 45 minutes – wheelchair accessible
Begin at Mariposa Grove Arrival Area. Winding through a forest with many giant sequoias, this trail features the Fallen Monarch and interpretive panels on the life and ecology of giant sequoias. This loop is relatively flat and is wheelchair accessible.
Grizzly Giant Loop Trail (Moderate)
2.1 miles (3.4 km) round trip – 1.5 to 2 hours
Begin at Mariposa Grove Arrival Area. Hike past notable trees such as the Bachelor and Three Graces, the Grizzly Giant, and the California Tunnel Tree. Visitors with accessibility placards can drive as far as the Grizzly Giant parking and enjoy the grove via a section of trail that is wheelchair accessible.
Guardians Loop Trail (Strenuous)
6.5 miles (10.4 km) – 4 to 6 hours
Begin at Mariposa Grove Arrival Area. From the tranquil upper portion of the grove, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) loop takes hikers past many unique features such as the fallen Wawona Tunnel Tree, the Telescope Tree, and the Mariposa Grove Cabin.
Located on the Big Oak Flat Road east of Big Oak Flat Entrance, the Merced Grove has about two dozen mature giant sequoias. Sequoias are only visible after a 1.5-mile hike with 500 feet of elevation loss. (The 1.5-mile hike back to the parking lot gains 500 feet and is strenuous.) Water is not available; bring drinking water for everyone in your group who will be hiking this trail. The drive takes about 1.5 hours from South Entrance. Parking is extremely limited.
Located on the Tioga Road just east of Crane Flat, the Tuolumne Grove has about two dozen mature giant sequoias. Sequoias are only visible after a one-mile hike with 500 feet of elevation loss. (The one-mile hike back to the parking lot gains 500 feet and is strenuous.) Water is not available; bring drinking water for everyone in your group who will be hiking this trail. The drive takes about 1.5 hours from South Entrance. Parking is limited.
Calaveras Big Tree State Park
Another alternative is to head a little further North to Calaveras Big Tree State Park which is home to two large groves of Giant sequoias.
The North Grove
The North Grove is open year round and features a great interpretive trail experience with access for all visitors near the visitors center at the entrance of the park.
The South Grove
The south grove is typically open only int he summer season for vehicle traffic but after a short 1 mile hike features some of the largest trees in the park. this trail is a moderate hike and will bring visitors through several ravines and hill side tree locations that put you up close and personal with these large giants.
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