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South Grove at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Learn about the natural and historical features of the giant Sequoias along this 6 mile hike

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.4 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  This hike through the south grove at Calaveras Big Trees State Park is one of the most popular areas of the park (the other being the ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trailhead

The trail starts as a wide trail that gently slopes down. Near the start of the trail you'll pass a structure that features a plaque with the preserve donors.

2. Beaver Creek Bridge

Cross over the footbridge and take a second to listen to the creek below. At the other end of the bridge you will find a sign thanking the many people who donated for the bridge

3. Western boundary of preserve

After this point you will enter the South Grove Natural Preserve where you will see some of the biggest trees in the area.

4. Footbridge

Cross the small wooden footbridge and continue along the trail. Soon you will start to spot the first Giant Sequoias

5. First giant sequoia

You have arrived at the first of many giant sequoias in the grove. Take a few minutes to stare up at these massive trees. You can tell which trees are sequoias by looking for the following:

Bark: the bark of sequoia trees is soft and can be pulled apart quite easily, and is usually brown or red in color.

Leaves: the leaves are bluish gray and ... More

6. Sequoia with burn scar

Look at the large burn scar on this tree! This was caused a while ago by a natural wildfire in the area. Sequoia’s are very resilient to fire. Because the outer later (inside of the fire-resistant bark) is the only layer of the tree that is growing, the center of the tree can burn away and the tree can continue living and growing for centuries... More

7. Fallen tree

No one is sure what caused this tree to fall. Sequoia trees are very resistant to disease, insects, and fire, but gravity may have been this tree's downfall (pun intended).

The roots of sequoias can stretch 100 feet to the side, but only reach about 6 feet down into the ground. While this makes it easy for the trees to soak up water from a very ... More

8. Palace Hotel Tree

This tree was named the Palace Hotel Tree after the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, because the opening where the burn scar is reminded them of the Grand Court of the hotel. it was thus named in the 1870s and its name has not changed since.

9. Agassiz tree

This very large tree was named after Louis Agassiz who was one of the leading naturalists in America. This tree is one of the largest in the grove, measuring over 25 feet in diameter, and around 250 feet tall.

10. Kansas group

Here you will see a number of large sequoias growing very close to each other. Unlike coastal redwood which can sprout from roots or stumps, these sequoias need very rich soil to grow, which is why you see many in the same area--it was the best or only place for them to grow.

Sometimes, you may see two trees grow so closely to each other that ... More

11. Bradley Grove Trail junction

The Bradley Grove trail branches off to the left here. This is a 2.5 mile loop through a grove of young giant sequoias planted in the 1950s.