There Are Giants Hiding Deep In The Forest Of Yosemite National Park.
Sequoia trees are ancient, massive, and are some of the oldest living things on our planet. To put it simply they’re impressive, really, really impressive.
Giant Sequoias are at the very heart and soul of our public lands. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Mariposa Grove (now located within Yosemite National Park) into federal protection for, “public use, resort, and recreation” marking the first time in the history of the United States that land was set aside for protection and preservation, kicking off the National Parks movement. In fact, these trees are so important to the history of the US National Parks, if you take a close look at the National Park Service’s emblem, you’ll find a giant sequoia tree!
Want to see giant sequoias up close and personal for yourself? There are three fantastic jaw-dropping options in Yosemite National Park:
The Mariposa Grove– The Mariposa Grove is by far the largest grove of sequoias in Yosemite, home to over 500 mature giant sequoias, and is the most universally accessible for hikers of all capabilities. Due to its location, the Mariposa Grove cannot be visited year-round, because of heavy snowfall and road closures. Visiting in the summer months is your best bet to guarantee you to get to see this historical grove, however, be prepared for crowds! The Mariposa Grove is a 1 hour and 15-minute drive from Yosemite Valley and is located near the South Entrance to the park.
Unfortunately for us, we were a little too early in the season on this last visit, and the road was still blocked by snowfall so while we missed out on the Mariposa Grove, we got to experience an awesome alternative!
Merced Grove– If you’ve already watched our video, then you know how much we loved, loved this grove! Not only did the trees here blow us away, but the best part was because of the insane amount of snow left on this trail (we visited in April, let that sink in) we had the entire hike all to ourselves, just not something that usually happens in Yosemite National Park!
Getting to the giant sequoias of Merced Grove requires a 1.5-mile hike out. This trail descends 500 feet in elevation and opens up to a stunning grove of 2 dozen mature sequoia trees. The trailhead for Merced Grove is located on the Big Oak Flat Road, a 45-minute drive from Yosemite Valley; the parking area is extremely limited, so go early to make sure you get a spot!
Tuolumne Grove– This small grove located off of the Tioga Road, was described to us as similar to Merced Grove. Unfortunately, due to limited time in the park, and seasonal road closures we didn’t get to explore this area the way we had hoped to- just a guess given that it’s a smaller grove of trees and requires a 1 mile hike along a strenuous trail, it’s most likely going to be a less crowded option then visiting the Mariposa Grove, if you’re looking to get away from it all this could be a great trail to check out!
Quick Facts About Giant Sequoia Trees:
When visiting someplace new we always like to know a little something about what we’re seeing and experiencing so we can fully appreciate the moment, we think these quick facts on Giant Sequoias is a great jumping-off point!
- They are the largest living organism on Earth; The General Sherman weighs in at 2.7 million pounds, is 275 feet tall and has a circumference of 102 feet at the ground.
- They are not the tallest trees on Earth; The largest living Giant Sequoia Trees are as tall as an average 26 story building, however, their cousins the Coastal Redwoods, can grow even taller!
- They are fire-resistant (mostly); their bark which can grow up to 3 feet thick protects their heartwood ( the interior of the tree) from damage from fires.
- They need fire to survive; Giant sequoias only reproduce by seeds found in their tiny pinecones which sometimes remain in the cone for 20 or more years. Forest fires allow the cones to open, the seeds then grow from the burnt nutrient-rich, bare soil.
Other Places In California To See Big Trees:
Yosemite National Park is a great place to get up close and personal with these giants but there are also loads of other great places in California to experience the wonder and amazement of being dwarfed under the shadow of a Giant Sequoia.
Our Favorite Gear For Hiking In Snow:
For us, the idea of leaving Yosemite National Park and not having the opportunity to have seen these magnificent giants would have been heartbreaking. This hike would not have been possible without the proper gear to make it happen.
- Foot Traction Devices- If there is one piece of gear that we have undoubtedly gotten our monies worth out of its these little handy dandy traction devices! We’ve used them everywhere, in fact, they saved us missing out on a hike all together in the Grand Canyon. They’re light, come in a carry case to make them easy to toss into your bag just in case and universally fit over hiking boots; heck we even tried them over a pair of trail runners once and they worked great!
- Down Jackets- If you plan on traveling to somewhere with cold weather and you don’t already own a down jacket, stop what you’re doing and order one right now! We have both owned our Patagonia Down Sweaters for over 10 years, they’re our go-to jackets in cold weather. There’s a reason 10 years later Patagonia is still making the same product because it works, nowadays they also make the several other down style jackets depending on if you’re looking for something lighter weight or perhaps even something warmer.
- Merino Wool Socks– For over 100 years wool was the adventurer’s fabric of choice because it keeps you warm even when it’s wet. Even better, Merino Wool will wick moisture away from your feet keeping them dry and warm in any condition. There are lots of great brands out there ranging in price from the kind of expensive, to empty your savings account. Personally, we have been more than happy with REI’s brand. Smartwool also makes a fantastic product!
- Hats & Gloves- Fortunately our hike through Yosemite didn’t require these but there have been plenty of other cold-weather hikes where heading out without a hat and gloves would have been a costly mistake. When it comes to hats REI offers tons and tons of great choices. For gloves both love our OR Sensory Gloves, they are super warm but lightweight.
- Hand Warmers- These are just great little backups to throw into your bag, on chilly weather days
- Double Walled Insulated Bottles- Just as many people suffer dehydration hiking in cold weather as they do in scorching hot temperatures. Why? Well, it’s easy to forget to drink when you aren’t sweating to death. We adore our Hydroflask bottles they are the perfect bottle for keeping cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot. So whether you’re carrying ice water or warm tea with you on the trail, make sure you toss it in one of these!
- Solar Battery Pack- Cold kills batteries, fact. Over the years we have tried all sorts of tricks to keep our batteries warm and working, from stuffing them into the inside pockets of our jackets, all the way to cozying up with them in our sleeping bag at night. A small solar battery charger keeps the worry away. This small but might device turns solar power into charging power and hold enough to recharge a cell phone of GoPro batteries.
Interested in learning more about the gear we use, love, and trust? Hop on over to our Gear + Gadgets page for a full list- there you’ll find all our favorite hiking gear, RV supplies, and sources of inspiration for adventure!