I have never felt more like a fairy princess than I did during my visit to Mariposa Grove. Giant trees and tiny me. Talk about a cool first taste of Yosemite.
Our guide doesn’t typically start here when taking groups on the three day trip to Yosemite, because it added an hour of extra driving. I think it was totally worth it, because just wow! I’m not sure if I have ever seen trees this big, and definitely not so many of them! Absolutely massive! I was using the panoramic setting to capture height.
We started our afternoon in Mariposa Grove at the Welcome Plaza. There is a free shuttle bus that we used to get to the entrance of Mariposa Grove.
I’m not sure if we took one of the defined trail loops or if our guide just created our own. He described it as going to both the “lower groves” where the Grizzly Giant is as well as the “upper groves.” Our total hike was about 5miles. I forgot to turn on my garmin right away, but you can see what I did catch below.
The trail was easy to follow and there were a few maps along the way which made it clear how popular this destination is. Even the steepest climb was pretty mild compared to the rest of the hikes we experienced in Yosemite.
Last year this area reopened after a three year multi-million dollar restoration. Since the hike was mild and the shuttle bus made it easy for visitors to access the trails the first mile of our hike was pretty crowded. There were actual wooden barriers to keep people on the path and so many kids who wished they had just gone to Disneyland instead. Seriously, this is the only time during our adventure that I saw so many (or any) kids who didn’t want to be there.
We first saw the Grizzly Giant; the 25th largest living sequoia. Just insane. They estimate that it is up to 2,400 years old. It shows evidence of standing tall through fires and lightning strikes.
Then we came to the California Tunnel Tree. As the name implies, they have made the tree a tunnel that you can walk through. I regret not getting my own picture underneath, we took a group picture which was never shared my way.
Once we passed the California Tunnel Tree we were free from the crowds. We saw very few other people the rest of our hike.
The forest was just beautiful. Lots of purple and yellow wildflowers scattered below the absolutely massive trees up ahead. Our guide shared with us all sorts of stories about the groves and pieces of trivia. Our group hadn’t totally warmed up to each other just yet so once we got past the crowd, silence from our guide usually lead to some quiet reflection. My heart was so filled with gratitude to have the opportunity to walk among those beautiful trees.