Thursday, July 4, 2013

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias at Yosemite National Park, California

Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias Trailhead
The Mariposa Grove, just two miles inside Yosemite National Park's South Entrance, (off Hwy. 41) contains about 500 mature Giant Sequoias which are said to be the 'largest' living things on Earth

While the Giant Sequoias aren’t the tallest or biggest around (basal diameter)--in total volume they are the 'largest' living things known to humans.

The tallest tree in the Mariposa Grove is about 290 feet (88 meters). The biggest in basal diameter is just over 40 feet (12 meters). The oldest is around 3,000 years.

After finding a parking slot at the trailhead (above--notice the size of the cars versus the size of the trees), we purchased a brochure (50 cents) written by NPS Ranger Jon Kinney (1946-1986) which included a map of the Grove trail system. (Both brochure and map are available for download online.)

'Grizzly Giant' (Julianne G Crane)
We hiked the 0.8 miles from the parking lot to the Grizzly Giant. There is about 500 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead which sits at approximately 5,500 feet.

What grabs one's attention first about the Grizzly Giant (right) is its girth. It is one of the largest trees in the Mariposa Grove and, at an estimated age of 2,700 years, one of the world's oldest living Sequoias.

As you approach its base and look up, the lowest limb is almost seven feet (2 meters) in diameter, and that mere branch is larger than the trunk of any non-Sequoia in the grove.

Some 50 yards beyond the Grizzly Giant is the California Tunnel Tree, cut in 1895 for stagecoaches.

Julianne & Jimmy at Tunnel Tree
Most visitors don’t know that two trees in this grove were tunneled, one of which is still standing--the California Tunnel tree. Walk down and stroll through a tree.

Further up the trail is the Mariposa Grove Museum, fine cabin, built in 1930 and restored in 1983. It occupies the site where Galen Clark built a small cabin in 1861. Inside are exhibits on the ecology and history of Giant Sequoias.

According to the brochure, "It’s these trees’ resistance to fire, disease, insects and decay that allows them to live through the centuries. Only by toppling do they finally succumb."

Mariposa Grove sign (Julianne G. Crane)
More Information:

Learn more about visiting this unique area by clicking on the Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove.

You can visit Yosemite all year, though some areas of the park are inaccessible by car from approximately November through May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around the park.

When the Mariposa Grove Road from the South Entrance (about 5,000 feet elevation) is closed during winter, you can still walk, snowshoe, or ski up the road (two miles with about 500 feet of elevation gain).

You don't need reservations to visit or enter Yosemite National Park, but reservations for lodging or camping are essential if you plan to spend the night in the park.

The park entrance fee is $20 per vehicle. This is valid for unlimited entries to Yosemite for seven days, and includes all occupants of the car. If you have a Senior Pass entry fee is waived.

To read more by Julianne G Crane go to RVWheelLife.com

Click on photos to enlarge: (Top) The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias trailhead's parking lot. Notice size of cars in comparison to these largest living trees on the planet.  (Second) Grizzly Giant. (Third) Julianne G Crane and Jimmy Smith at the California Tunnel Tree. (Fourth) Entry sign to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. (Photos by Julianne G. Crane)

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