Mariposa :Grizzly Giant,Tunnel Tree & Fallen Giant
Walk the Talk from Mariposa Grove.
This is about 2 Kms drive from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park.
Close places to stay are the hotels around Tenaya Lake and Mariposa Town.
Park the car at the designated Parking and take a hike of about 800 metres from the parking space.
You will see the well known sequia trees : Fallen giant, Grizzle Bear and the surviving Tunnel Tree through which you can drive a car....
Giant Sequoia trees dominate this part of Yosemite; not to be mistaken with Sequoia National Park, they are two separate entities. We arrived in the park early enough so we could not check into our hotel, we decided to go see the first stop on our map. We drove into the park after purchasing our annual pass, the grove is a short drive from the main entrance gate. There were a lot of cars and people, but we managed to get parking just fine.
Information about the trees and the grove are posted right next to the beginning of the hiking trail. The first thing you see as you get to the parking is this giant sequoia tree with semi red trunk and as tall as your eyes can see above.
We decided to hike in and see some of the other trees and learn a little more about them.
What was interesting to learn, was that the giant sequoias actually need fire to reproduce. We made stops along the way and saw the 'the Fallen Monarch', which is the giant fallen sequoia as you start the hike. The next stop was the 'Bachelor and three Graces', and then on to the 'Giant Grizzly' the biggest tree in the grove. Down slope from the giant grizzly was the tree with a hole in its trunk.
There are plenty of deer in the grove, many are unafraid of people, which I found quite interesting.
Mariposa, we visited the Lower Grove by car and took a shuttle bus for the final part of the road. Unfortunately we could not spend a lot of time here, because we had to take the last bus out of the grove again - at around six PM, if my memory serves me correctly. Pictures are of the giant trees Fallen Monarch and Bachelor & Three Graces. We were absolutely flabbergasted by the size of these trees.
First of all this is not Sequoia National Park which is a bit further south from Yosemite. This is just part of the massive Yosemite National Park at the southern edge of the park. Sue and I only had a few hours to spend here before meeting VTer Kathymof and her husband for dinner nearby, but we did do a little hiking to a couple of the marked trees along the trail. And that's about all we were going to be able to do as Sue did not bring her walking shoes not thinking we would do some walking in the woods today.
We took the drive down from Mariposa where we had spent a portion of the day. As stated in the general directions below the entrance is off Highway 41 near the town of Oakhurst. Once you enter Yosemite here you will have about a 2 mile ride on Mariposa Grove Road until you get to a relatively small parking lot where you can begin hikes or possibly take the tram. We thought about taking the 1 hour tram ride, but I think the cost is somewhere in the $20 range for about a 60 minute tour which I thought was a little steep.
Anyway we began our initial walk which I found out later increased about 500 feet over a little less then a mile hike (no wonder we were a little winded). We saw three of the named "tall tree attractions" in the Fallen Monarch, Bachelor and Three Graces and Grizzly Giant. You can see all three of these within an hour walk which is about what we did.
The forest is full of very unafraid deer. They are so use to people walking through that they almost don't give you a second thought as you traverse through their part of the woods.
Our first experience of the delights that Yosemite had to offer was a walk around and through the giant sequoias trees in Mariposa Grove.
The trees are incredible to walk around and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours here.
The Mariposa Grove of Big Trees is the top hike in the Wawona portion of Yosemite National Park. This 6 mile loop picks up 1000 feet of elevation as it meanders up and down and through a forest of huge sequoias which have to be seen to appreciate. These massive trees can reach up to 3000 years. Redwoods may be taller but these super wides are most awe-inspiring. The lower grove can get quite crowded so it's well worth the climb to reach the upper grove where it thins out considerably.
One of the highlights of a Yosemite vist, or any trip to California for that matter, is a visit to see the majestic giant sequois, the most massive of the three species of redwood trees (Coastal redwoods are slightly taller, but less massive). These trees live to be over 2500 years old and and are almost invulnerable. We humans are accustomed to viewing ourselves as the pinnacles of evolutionary achievement but that view seems SO anthrocentric in the midst of these giants. Clearly, if evolution were to have a highest achievent, it would be these giant trees!!
There are several hiking trails throughout the grove, connecting the lower grove and the upper grove, where most of the big trees are. There are only about 75 such groves in the world. Luckily, sequoia wood isn't really good for construction, so logging companies quickly moved on to other species, saving these beautiful creatures for future generations.
As we walked the paths dissecting Mariposa Grove, I felt like an ant moving through tall grass...expecting someone's big foot to flatten me.
Mariposa Grove is home to the Giant Sequoias, known to survive for more than 3,000 years. When they topple, they can last decades upon decades before rotting.
The FALLEN MONARCH is an example of this phenomenon (picture 4). It's roots rise high in the air, while its trunk has laid for over a hundred years on the forest floor undecayed. Why? Fungi and bacteria are repelled by the tannic acid inside its trunk.
Although Giant Sequoias are true natural sky scrapers, their root systems are typically no deeper than six feet, but these can extend for 150 feet. (picture 3).
Young Sequoias can reach an impressive girth--these trees are capable of developing bases that grow to 40 feet. (picture 2) Amazing facts!
Located less than 2 miles east of the south entrance to yosemite national park, mariposa grove is a must visit place in the park. With minimal hiking to do, there are several giant living fossil living in the grove. Approximately 500 giant sequoias are in the grove. These giant sequoias can live up to thousands of years.
One of the first you'll see is the "Fallen Monarch". It fell around 300 years ago and it still hasn't completely decayed yet. As you can see from the picture, these trees are HUMONGOUS! Hike a little east and you'll encounter the "Bachelor and three graces". After that it's the "Grizzly Giant" and "California Tunnel Tree". There are plenty more famous sequoias in the grove. It's about 1.6 miles from the parking lot to the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. With an hour or two of hiking, you can enjoy and appreciate these living monuments!
When you think these giants are hard rock and deeply rooted, you're wrong! These are actually gentle and fragile creatures. Touch one and you know what I mean. The bark is very spongy, not as hard as I thought it would be. And the roots are very shallow. They require a lot of delicate balancing in their life time. Please take care and give them the respect they deserve.
If you're too lazy to hike, there are tram tours available in the grove.
The towering Sequoia trees have been around longer than millenium. They are a treasure to behold. Look at them, smell them and touch them. Feel the bark and the ground in which they have held for over 1,000 years, sometimes more than 2,000 years. Don't just walk past them, give them the respect they deserve. Leave it as you found it, except for the realization that you are witnessing the largest living creature in the world.
At the very south end of the park (just a two mile spur road from the South Entrance), you can enter into Mariposa Grove. This is a grove of Giant Sequoia trees. Some of the trees in the grove are over 2,500 years old. The spur road can close due to heavy traffic, so if this happens, you can catch a shuttle at Wawona. Once here, there are several trails you can take to view a number of the giant trees, or you can hop on a tram and be given a hour-long guided tour. There are also ranger led tours throughout the day. Through many parts of this section of the country, there are some huge trees (including Redwood National Park) - and you may get your fill pretty quickly. Worth it to see some of the giant trees in the parking lot itself, and a fallen tree just beyond that. The fallen tree and it's root system will clue you in to just how fragile these monsters truly are.
Please see my travelogues for more pictures from Mariposa Grove.
Mariposa grove was so extraordinary. You rarely experience trees of this magnitude. Unfortunately, it was raining when we went and did not have alot of time to wander.
However, we got a good idea of the grove and will definately put this region first when we come back.
From the Mariposa Grove Museum, a short 1/4-mile nature loop trail leads through a meadow and many giant sequoias. This trail is often empty of people but full of sights. While walking this short path, take the time to appreciate your surroundings; the wildlife, the trees, the meadows, the streams flowing around you. Notice that the upper grove is basically confined in a small basin between two low ridges. Interpretive signs along the trail will tell much of the story of this sequoia forest; how it benefits from fire, the sequoia's weaknesses, and its strenghs.
On an alternate trail from the Mariposa Grove Museum back to the Lower Grove parking area, you'll find two rarely visited trees: The Clothespin and the Faithful Couple. The Clothespin is a giant sequoia that has been badly burned many times, creating a natural tunnel in its trunk. The hole is actually large enough for a car to drive through (the size of the tunnel in my photo doesn't show how big the it really is). The Faithful Couple, about 0.2 miles away, is a pair of giant sequoias that began growing very close to each other and eventually merged at their bases.
Seeing a "living fossil" actually growing is an experience that everyone should have, but even the majestic and long lived (Sequoia can live a thousand years) trees can come to an end. They can be brought down by soil erosion as seen in the first picture, or toppled by a lighting strike as seen in the second.
But by far the worst enemy of these beautiful tress is MAN, especially with the starting of forest fires, many times by a cigarette thrown from a passing car...here you can see several pictures of short immature trees in a burnt out area trying to recover some of its lost beauty in a "man made" disaster. Everywhere we walked in Yosemite we found evidence of smokers, cigarette butts on the roads, on the walks and even in the forests....I sometimes worry about when people will ever learn to protect the wonders we have.