This site covers most old-growth giant sequoia groves with publicly-accessible trails. Some nearby non-sequoia hikes are also covered.
There are 67 small groves of giant sequoias, about 40 of which are in old growth condition; the largest grove is about six square miles. The groves occur in sheltered folds and shallow basins about halfway up the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, mostly in and around Sequoia National Park.
The sequoias’ strikingly massive, stout trunks are an arresting sight, often elegantly fluted and with an appealing light tan or salmon color that seems to glow against the dark foliage and grey trunks of the other trees around it. The canopy is usually open enough that the exceptional height of the trees can be fully appreciated. But the big trees are are widely scattered, usually growing as individuals or in small groups, so the forest as a whole tends to look rather mundane — like an ordinary Sierra pine forest studded with the occasional huge tree.
Walking among sequoias feels much different than coast redwoods. Redwoods envelop you with a welcoming, orderly garden-like appearance, lush green walls of redwood foliage, and redwood-needle-covered paths. Giant sequoia forests are less attractive overall, but there’s a thrill at encountering the massive trees that you don’t get in the redwood forest. Overall, it’s hard to choose a favorite.
The higher-elevation groves are usually the most scenic, since they tend to be more open. These groves often have a stark, otherworldly appearance, with little or no groundcover. Lower-elevation groves are more densely wooded and lush, so the understory tends to block the views.
Depite being in the Sierra Nevada, the groves don’t actually look that mountainous. You have to go to the high country to get real mountain scenery. But the groves do get a lot of snow, so the trails can only be hiked between June and October, and June and July can sometimes be extremely buggy.
Key to table colors
|Old growth sequoia hikes|
|Overall Rating||Distance, miles||Climbing, feet||Trail name|
|★||Placer County Grove (Tahoe National Forest)|
|★||0.8||140||Big Trees Trail|
|★★||Calaveras Big Trees State Park|
|★★||1.6||70||North Calaveras Grove|
|★★||5.4||610||South Calaveras Grove|
|Yosemite National Park|
|★★★★★||Yosemite National Park and Sierra National Forest|
|Sierra National Forest|
|Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks|
|★★★||Grant Grove area (Kings Canyon National Park)|
|★★★||10.0||2200||Redwood Mountain Grove|
|★||2.3||140||Little Boulder Creek Grove|
|★★★||Kings Canyon (Kings Canyon National Park)|
|★★★||11.7||1530||Mist Falls and Paradise Valley|
|★★★||15.7||5220||Copper Creek Trail|
|★★||11.7||3440||Lewis Creek Trail|
|★★||7.2||1910||Hotel Creek Loop|
|★||10.6||3760||Don Cecil Trail|
|★★★★||Giant Forest area (Sequoia National Park)|
|★★★★||9.6||1380||Wolverton Cutoff Loop|
|★★★||7.3||1360||Moro Rock and Crescent Meadow|
|★★★★★||22.6||3300||Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp|
|★★★||4.1||530||Tokopah Falls Trail|
|★★||9.6||2260||Middle Fork Trail|
|★★||7.8||1370||East Fork Grove|
|Giant Sequoia National Monument|
|★★||Mountain Home area (Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest)|
|★★||Camp Nelson area (Giant Sequoia National Monument)|
|★★★★||5.5||2220||Bear Creek Trail|
|★★||7.4||1390||Freeman Creek Grove|
|★★||19.3||1600||Black Mountain Grove|
|★||5.1||820||Red Hill Grove|
|★||1.0||150||Stagg Tree (Alder Creek Grove)|
|★★★||1.4||120||Trail of 100 Giants|
|★||1.5||690||Deer Creek Grove|
© 2012, 2014 David Baselt