Is it a competition? Like Sequoia National Park, Yosemite invites visitors to its own groves of giant sequoias, namely the Mariposa Grove near the park’s south entrance. Every giant sequoia grove is specoal, but does Yosemite have a tree that compares to Sequoia’s General Sherman Tree, the biggest tree in the world? The Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove is a massive tree to see. Trying to size up every giant sequoia in Yosemite is probably the wrong way to enjoy the park. The experience of walking through a forest of freakishly large trees should not be missed, whichever park you visit.
Several trails explore the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. A shuttle brings hikers right to the edge of the grove. Update: After 3 years of major restorations, Mariposa Grove is set to reopen on June 15, 2018.
There are numerous options for exploring the Mariposa Grove on foot. It is 1.6 miles out and back to the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree with 400 feet of elevation gain. To reach Wawona Point Vista at the top of the forest is a 6-mile hike with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Another trail to consider is the Outer Loop Trail, which provides sequoia solitude at the edge of the forest.
This map of the Mariposa Grove illustrates of the hiking options and named trees in the grove:
Head up the leisurely trail and revel beneath the enormous beauties. The trail crisscrosses the road passing a grouping of sequoias called the Bachelor and Three Graces to arrive at the Grizzly Giant after 0.8 miles. The 1,800-year-old tree is 209-foot tall with a 96-foot circumference and a diameter of 28 feet at the base.
A few paces from the Grizzly Giant is the California Tunnel Tree, a live Sequoia that was driven through in the old days and can be hiked through now. Both trees are sure to impress. Giant sequoias are the largest species of trees in the world by volume. Regular trees look like saplings standing next to them. An average giant sequoia can grow to be a thousand years old and more than twenty feet across. These special trees grow only in California on the west side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, this makes every sequoia grove a very special place.
From the California Tunnel Tree, it is another mile (and 200 vertical feet) to the Faithful Couple. This entangled pair of giant sequoias, classified by botanists as a twin, represents a fun growth pattern among sequoias. While many sequoias are close, two trees rarely reach this level of intimacy. To stay so close after hundreds of years, through thick and thin, and more wildfires than they care to remember must be an inspiration to the surrounding forest.
About wildfires, reach out and touch at least one giant sequoia. They have a soft outer skin that is designed to burn off during a fire while keeping the vital bark below intact. This survival technique is key to the sequoias longevity. Giant sequoias also require fires for germination and to clear away smaller (i.e. regular sized) trees. For this reason, you will see evidence of controlled fires that are burned throughout the grove. Prescribed burns conducted by the National Park Service replace natural wildfires while keeping visitors safe.
From the Faithful Couple it is 1.25 miles back to the trailhead via a section of the Outer Loop Trail. Of course there are more great giants farther up the grove, so carry on until you have had your fill. It’s impossible to get too much of Mariposa Grove.
Mariposa Grove is located near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park where an entrance fee is charged. Access to the grove may be limited during the busy summer months.
To get to the trailhead: From Yosemite Valley, drive 26 miles down Highway 41 to the south entrance. Just before the gate, turn left up Mariposa Grove Road. The parking area for the grove is 2 miles up at the end of the grove.
Trailhead address: Mariposa Grove Road, Yosemite National Park, CA 93623
Trailhead coordinates: 37.501462, -119.610862 (37° 30′ 05.26″N 119° 36′ 39.10″W)
Use the map below to view the trail and get directions:
|Wawona Meadow Loop Trail
This gentle 3.9-mile loop passes through forest encircling a verdant, mostly-natural meadow near Wawona Hotel at the south end of Yosemite National Park.
|Chilnualna Falls Trail
This 8-mile round trip hike ascends 2,200 feet past a raucous string of cascades to the top of a waterfall alongside Wawona Dome.
|Lewis Creek Trail to Corlieu Falls
This 0.8-mile round trip hike travels down along a rushing creek to a viewing platform in front of an enthusiastic, cascading waterfall.
|Shadow of the Giants Trail
This 1.1-mile nature trail visits giants sequoias and imparts wisdom about the great trees and their surroundings.
|Big Ed Tree Trail
This 0.2-mile hike is quite short, but visits a tree that is quite big – part of the Nelder Grove of Giant Sequoias in Sierra National Forest.
|Bull Buck Tree Trail
This 0.8-mile loop leaves from Nelder Grove Campground and leads to a single giant sequoia with an incredibly broad base.
|More trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Explore other destinations in Yosemite National Park and the rest of the range.
|North Grove – Big Trees Trail in Calaveras Big Trees State Park
This easy 1.5-mile loop explores the first giant sequoias discovered by settlers in California.
|General Grant Tree Trail in Kings Canyon National Park
This 0-8 mile loop in the Grant Grove passes through a Fallen Monarch to reach the General Grant Tree, one of the world’s largest sequoias.
|Trail of 100 Giants in Giant Sequoia National Monument
This paved 0.5 to 1.3-mile loop visits a grove of giant sequoias alongside Western Divide Highway.
|General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park
This one-mile hike visits the world’s biggest tree, a 275-foot tall Giant Sequoia that is 36.5 feet across at the base.
|Big Trees Trail in Sequoia National Park
This 1.4-mile stroll explores giant sequoias around Round Meadow on a paved nature trail that is easy, educational, and beautiful.
|Crescent Meadow in Sequoia National Park
This level 1.6-mile loop visits a Sequoia you can stand inside (Chimney Tree) and another that someone used to live in (Tharp’s Log).
|Yosemite National Park Campgrounds
There are 13 campgrounds with over 1,600 total sites spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.