Evans Grove contains a small but superb patch of old-growth sequoias on a hillside overlooking the mountainous Kings River drainage. Although the rest of the grove has been logged, this little patch appears to be entirely untouched.
Typically for low-elevation groves, Evans Grove is lush and densely-wooded. The edges of the grove have unusually high concentrations of sequoias, including some monster trees, and are quite scenic. However, the center of the grove has relatively few sequoias, so there’s only about a half-mile of really good sequoias on this hike.
Just north of the recommended turnaround point is a huge area that’s mostly been logged and also, for the most part, has a naturally low density of sequoias. Starting at the turnaround point, route 13S05 winds north through the grove for about 5 miles, but the scenery is mostly open chaparral and sparse fir woods. Only about 15 old-growth sequoias, plus a similar number of large stumps, are visible from the road before it finally reaches a small cluster of old-growth trees at Lockwood Grove. However, it should be noted that the road, which was built for logging, avoids the most densely-wooded areas.
Start from the Kennedy Meadows Trailhead, which can be reached by an easy drive on smooth, well-maintained dirt and paved Forest Service roads. The trail descends through typical Sierra pine forest, then ascends to an open knoll. Although the views are partly screened by trees, the dramatic topography of the Kings River drainage is nontheless visible to the north, while to the south is the rolling, conifer-covered plateau of the National Forest.
The trail begins a gentle descent off the knoll. Soon the hillside drops off at a steeper angle and, at the same time, the trail enters relatively lush woodland. A few yards later the first sequoias appear.
From the southern edge of the grove to the 30E04A intersection are quite a few sequoias, including some that are pretty impressive.
The 30E04A is a faint trail, marked by a wooden sign that has been torn up by bears, that branches off to the left. Take this trail, which descends the steep hillside. Although the woods are still dense and lush, there aren’t any big sequoias in this area.
The trail reaches a T intersection with the 30E04, which is a level, better-used trail. The big sequoias re-appear at this point; in fact, this quarter-mile-long section of the 30E04 is perhaps the best part of the grove.
Turn left onto the trail, which is more or less level until it reaches a gully. The trail descends into the gully and climbs out the other side, where it turns into a dirt road. The gully is the most dramatic sight in the grove: there’s an unusual concentration of big, pinkish sequoias growing among the deep-green understory on its slopes, and the woods are open enough to give you a good view of it all, especially from the end of the dirt road. A short side trail from the end of the end of the dirt road leads to a fallen sequoia.
I suggest turning around here, but if you want to see a little more of the grove, the dirt road continues through old growth for only a short distance before abruptly entering a heavily-logged area. Huge stumps indicate that this area once looked much like the old-growth region to the south. There’s a short stretch of old growth sequoias to the left (which looks like it might have been logged of whitewoods in the 1980s), then the trail enters a much more open area of chaparral and pine forest with only a very few, widely-scattered sequoias for the next several miles.
Retrace your steps. At the first intersection, continue straight ahead, staying on the level trail. The trail continues to pass by some pretty impressive sequoias for a bit, then leaves the sequoias behind, instead entering a relatively dry, open area. Turn right at the next, unmarked intersection; the trail immediately begins to climb steeply. There aren’t any sequoias until just before the next trail intersection.
© 2012 David Baselt