Hiking in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
On my list of favorite things to do Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove ranks near the top. The Mariposa Grove is a large, virgin stand of sequoia trees located in Yosemite’s southern high country. The grove is just off highway 41 about 2 miles from the southern entrance to the park.
Mariposa Grove is worth a visit at any time of year that snow doesn’t prevent it. There is a parking lot but at the busiest times of year it may be full in which case a shuttle bus will take you to the grove from parking at the south entrance. Restrooms and a gift shop are available.
The grove was first visited by non-natives in 1857. No outsiders at first believed the reports of trees over 200 feet tall with diameters of 30 feet at their base. Even today visitors who have never seen grown redwood trees are awe struck by their size and age. The giant sequoias in Mariposa are closely related to the taller but more slender coastal redwoods found along the coast of North America.
Things to Do – Yosemite Hiking
Fortunately the wood of the giant sequoias splinters too easily for construction use and so the trees were left alone by early settlers. A relatively easy 2.2 mile trail takes you through the most accessible of the trees in about an hour. The adventurous can take the longer 5-6 mile hike through the upper grove in about 4 hours.
An option is to buy tickets for the frequent tram tours and ride both trails in open cars with a tour guide explaining what you are seeing.
Things to Do – Yosemite Noteworthy Trees
The number of huge trees you will see is impressive but several of the individual trees would be worthwhile things to do Yosemite all by themselves. At the head of the list is the 2,700 year old Grizzly Giant. This is the oldest of the trees in the grove and the largest limb on the tree is larger in diameter than the trunk of just about any other species of tree.[sam id=1 codes=’false’]
This tree started life about the time Rome was founded making it almost as old as western civilization. It has been estimated that 50 billion humans have been born and died during the life of the Grizzly Giant. The Grizzly Giant gets its name from damage to the top of the tree caused by countless thousands of lightning strikes throughout its life.
The California Tunnel Tree is about 300 feet beyond the Grizzly Giant and has a manmade tunnel cut through it that you can walk through. In fact crowds of people could easily walk through it at once since the tunnel is so large. The remains of another tunnel tree can still be found that had a tunnel big enough for a full sized car to drive through. That tree fell in 1969 in a storm.
The Fallen Monarch fell more than 300 years ago but because redwood decays so slowly it is still impressive laying on the forest floor.
The Bachelor and Three Graces are a family of four impressive trees growing near each other with intertwined roots.
The Faithful Couple is two trees that started growing so close together that their trunks have fused together.
The Washington Tree is the largest of the trees in terms of volume containing nearly 36,000 cubic feet of wood.
If you’re not sure Mariposa Grove is one of your priority things to do Yosemite Park has created a series of videos on various aspects of the Park. Check out this video featuring Mariposa Grove.