Why you should visit the Giant Sequoias in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite?
Any visit to Yosemite is all about seeing something big. There is nothing more breathtaking than looking from the main valley and seeing the immense power of nature. It’s one thing to know the valley was formed as a result of a glacier carving-through. Seeing this modern miracle in person gives you a sense of just how small we are as people. When it comes to another incredible gem of Yosemite, the Giant Sequoias are often lost on the big-ticket tours.
There are some facts you probably didn’t know about this area of Yosemite. It was one of the first areas that had been signed into US legislation for public use and recreation. At a time when America was involved with the Civil War in 1864, President Lincoln foresaw another kind of freedom. Historically, Yosemite wasn’t added to the national list until 1906, making the Mariposa Grove an absolute must-visit.
Giant Sequoias Mariposa Grove Hike
Difficulty- Intended for easy to strenuous hikers
How to get there- Take Mariposa Grove Road off Highway 41 near the South entrance
Distance- 2 miles hike on the Washburn Trail to reach Mariposa Grove Road and trails
Transport services to the trail
· Free shuttle
There is a free shuttle bus that takes travelers who want to visit the trail from Highway 41. Along the Mariposa Grove Road, this shuttle bus will take you to the trailhead at the end of the road itself where the Washburn trail begins. This is where there is a parking lot that allows up to 300 cars to park. There’s also the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Welcome Plaza this is one of the first things you’ll see.
· Commercial bus
If there are bus tours that are bringing more than 16 or more people to the Mariposa Grove, these buses need permission. Commercial operations need a CUA (Commercial Use Authorization) from Yosemite National Park in advance. This includes schools and tour groups that are independently operated outside the park itself.
Things you want to know before taking this hike
· Bring the appropriate supplies
Like any other hike you take in Yosemite, you need good hiking shoes. Because the trail up to the grove is an elevation of 500 feet, you want to have good tread. Obviously, wetter months will present slippery soil and mud, while winter conditions will be icy. You want to bring drinking water bottles, snacks and food, and a good-sized backpack to store everything. Other items are essential to bringing along for your safety.
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A first-aid kit is without a doubt an item you cannot forget since cuts and scrapes can happen. Extra clothes or spare clothing items if it’s rainy, and sunglasses and bug spray. Spring and summer months can have heavier numbers of flies or mosquitoes. If there is one thing that is going to be important it would be a good camera to capture these memories.
· Bikes, horses, and pets
It’s allowed to bring mountain bikes along the Grizzly Giant trail as long as you are mindful of others. This is only when this trail is open for the season. Those who are on the trail on foot deserve as much warning that you’re approaching from behind. Aside from that, bicycles are not allowed on any other trails in Mariposa Grove. As for pets, they are allowed in the parking lot on a leash.
Anywhere else in the Grove, they are not allowed at all. For this reason, if you have a pet, you’ll have to have someone watch your pet in the parking lot area for a while. As for horses, there is one trail established for horses called the Perimeter Trail only.
· Restrooms and food services
You will find restrooms in the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and within the Arrival Area. There is also one located at the Mariposa Grove Cabin and at the Grizzly Giant Trailhead. Since there’s not going to be any kind of food or snacks available, what you bring with you is essential. The Welcome Plaza center does sell gifts and books but you shouldn’t expect any snacks. As far as drinking water, the Welcome Area does offer this in the summer only.
For this reason, you should bring plenty of drinking water so you can keep hydrated. Especially when hiking at this altitude, you don’t want to walk more than a few miles without adequate water.
· If you go in the winter
Even in the winter, there are still visitors that come to Mariposa Grove. An interesting note is that there are toilets that have been converted for winter. These will be vault toilets only, so expect they’ll be as expected. I suggest you bring toilet paper just in case. Another interesting part of the winter hiking schedule is the popularity of skiing and snowshoeing. Camping is allowed with a wilderness permit obtained from Yosemite Park in advance.
Good portable snowshoes like these would be a good idea to bring:
In this case, you can only set-up camp above the Clothespin tree location 0.2 miles up the Mariposa Grove Trail. These trails make for exciting cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking. Like anything else, you should bring winter clothes that are suitable for snowy and icy weather. The Mariposa Grove Yosemite cold weather is not very forgiving, so you must be prepared.
Various hikes you’ll encounter
· Mariposa Grove trail (Strenuous)
Not that this trail will be especially hard to walk along, the trail is mostly smooth the entire length. It is rather long since it covers over 7 miles as a round trip so expect that you’ll be spending 4-6 hours on this trail by itself. The E-Ticket sights on this trail include giant Sequoias like the Bachelor and Three Graces and the Faithful Couple. There is also the Clothespin tree and a hike up to Wawona Point.
This gives excellent panoramic views of this overlooking point that’s 1200 feet above the Grove. Many other side trails will take you to hidden sights within the Grove but will require moderate hiking skills. Don’t forget to bring your camera with a wide-angle lens, these giant Sequoias are quite tall.
· Grizzly Giant Loop Trail (Moderate)
This trail is still a popular attraction that also begins at the Arrival Area. You’ll also see the Bachelor and Three Graces and encounter a 3000-year-old tree called the Grizzly Giant. This is a two-hour loop that takes you up 300 feet of elevation along this trail. It’s also suitable for wheelchair access for portions of the path up to the Grizzly Giant. This trail spans mostly the edges of the Grove.
The best part of this trail also covers the tunnel tree that has a hole cut right through the center. Since this point intersects with the Perimeter trail, you can see horseback riders on the other side of the Tunnel Tree.
· Guardians Loop Trail (Strenuous)
One side excursion trail is the Guardians Loop that is found along the Mariposa Grove Loop Trail. This trail is also an intensive hike that can only be accessed by walking up the Mariposa grove trail. This will also take at least 4-6 hours of your day, so plan ahead if you want to enjoy this adventure. Among the highlight seen here are the Wawona Tunnel Tree, The Columbia Tree, the Telescope Tree, and the Mariposa Grove Cabin.
To return back to the Mariposa Grove entrance you’ll need to walk back down the Main Grove trail. Along many portions of this trail you may spot at points, horseback riders on the Perimeter horse trail not too far away.
· Big Trees Loop Trail (Easy)
Right at the entrance of the Grove, you will find one of the easiest trails. This trail will only take half an hour or more to walk. It’s also very flat, making it wheelchair accessible for many who are still interested in seeing the big Sequoias. Along this path, you can find little panels that tell you about the ecology of the area. It’s highly informative and fun for little kids who probably aren’t up for several miles of hiking.
The big highlight to this trail includes the Fallen Monarch and shows you exactly how extensive these Sequoia roots stretch-out.
Our final thoughts
This is an excellent opportunity for hikers who are adventurous and love walking through a massive ancient forest. Some of these Sequoias are more than 3000 years old, making them a living lesson in human history. At the time when these were little saplings, this is when the Bronze Age was just beginning. Ironically, this is when Camels in Egypt were just starting to be domesticated.
As mentioned before, of all the things that you can enjoy in Yosemite, you shouldn’t miss the Mariposa Grove Sequoias. It might take a little extra driving to get to, but is one part of the park that is unique to itself. I highly recommend that you take the time to see this Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias at least once in your lifetime.